Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At Jacksonville Jaguars
- QuarterbackThe Texans are just playing for dignity at this point, and they are not going to recapture much of it by going up against the Jaguars. However, they can at least register a shred of dignity by ending their 10-game losing streak and coming up with the road win. Case Keenum has good mobility and that gives him time to get away from the rush and find open receivers.While the Jaguars rank among the least talented teams in the league and their record shows it, they generally play hard for rookie head coach Gus Bradley and should be primed for a top effort in a prime-time home game against a beatable opponent. Chad Henne lacks arm strength and velocity, but he is smart and will take advantage of Houston coverage breakdowns.
- OffenseThe Texans are dependent on injured running back Ben Tate (ribs) for the bulk of their ground game. Tate’s pain tolerance is off the charts, and he is a solid back. Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been among the most frustrated Texan because of their losing record, but he is still formidable. DeAndre Hopkins has some talent at the other WR spot, but he is inconsistent.One of the reasons the Jaguars have been so limited on offense this season is the play of running back Maurice Jones-Drew. While he has been better in recent weeks, he has been a disappointment in his yards per carry and his impact plays. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts is a hard worker who finds a way to get open. Clay Harbor is an adequate tight end.
- DefenseThe Texans have had difficulties coming up with key stops at big moments, and that’s one of the reasons their losing ways have continued for so long. Strangely, they still have been among the stingiest defenses in terms of yards allowed. Defensive end J.J. Watt is the Texans’ best pass rusher by a wide margin and his forceful hitting often results in opponents’ fumbles.The Jaguars are not comparable to the Texans in terms of yards allowed since they rank in the bottom third of the league, but they are surprisingly tough against the pass. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is a force to be reckoned with every week and he is one of the best tacklers in the league. Cornerback Alan Ball can break up passes, but he does not have the hands to come away with interceptions.
- Special TeamsThe Texans have a tendency to give up big plays in the return game. This has been part of their make-up for several years, and it could cost them if the Jaguars keep this game close. Randy Bullock is one of the most inconsistent placekickers, but punter Shane Lechler still has a big leg.The Jaguars have given up some yardage on punt and kickoff returns, but they rarely allow big plays. Jordan Todman is a threat on kickoffs, and he has a 57-yard return to his credit. Bryan Anger is a decent punter who knows how to kill the ball inside the 20 with great frequency.
The Texans have more talent throughout their lineup than most of their opponents, and that’s definitely the case against the Jaguars. However, they make too many mistakes and they are far too defeatist. Look for the Jags to come up with the win at home. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor