Know Your Foe: Changes in Jacksonville

There were some...okay, there were many skeptics and analysts who thought the AFC South was the weakest division in the NFL in 2015. The Texans won the division with nine wins and no other team had a winning record. The Titans earned the first pick in the draft and the Jaguars were right behind them.

But through free agency and the draft, the division was dramatically altered. We all have seen the changes here in Houston, but how will the three other AFC South teams look by the time the Texans meet them in the fall of 2016?

This is the first part of a three part series looking at the AFC South changes and what that can all mean for the Texans in 2016, starting with the flavor of the month for many analysts...the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

OFFENSE 2015 Unit Profile

Rush Offense - 92.1 ypg (27th in the NFL)
Pass Offense - 256.8 ypg (10th)
Total Offense - 348.8 ypg (18th)
Scoring Offense - 23.5 ppg (14th)

Here's what the Jaguars offense looked like the last time the Texans faced them in week 17 in 2015:

WR - Allen Robinson
TE - Julius Thomas
LT - Luke Joeckel
LG - Zane Beadles
C - Stefen Wisniewski
RG - A.J. Cann
RT - Sam Young
TE - Marcedes Lewis
WR - Allen Hurns
QB - Blake Bortles
RB - Denard Robinson

Here's what the Jaguars offense COULD look like in 2016:

WR - Robinson
TE - Thomas
LT - Joeckel/KELVIN BEACHUM
LG - MACKENZY BERNADEAU/JEFF LINKENBACH
C - LUKE BOWANKO
RG - Cann
RT - JEREMY PARNELL
TE - Lewis
WR - Hurns
QB - Bortles
RB - CHRIS IVORY

ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER**

Check out the snapshots from the Week 17 matchup between the Texans and Jaguars.

If Beachum beats out Joeckel, and there are a few people who think that can happen including Beachum, the offensive line takes on a completely different look.

Most significant improvement on the offense 

Adding Ivory to T.J. Yeldon who didn't play in either game against the Texans in 2015. Ivory was voted by the NFL players as a Top 100 candidate.

When teamed with Yeldon, the Jaguars running game could take another step in a position direction to help Bortles.

Most impactful players that the Texans didn't face in 2015 

Yeldon.

Even though Yeldon was a member of the Jaguars, he didn't face the Texans either time in 2015. Even though Ivory was not a member of the Jaguars, he did face the Texans as a member of the New York Jets.

What will worry Texans fans the most? 

Bortles takes that next step and Ivory is as good as advertised.

What will worry Jaguars fans the most? 

Bortles doesn't take that step and regresses behind a still sub-standard, bottom third of the league offensive line. Injuries slow Yeldon like last year. If Robinson misses any time, the passing game takes a

The Texans' faithful showed up to support their favorite football team at NRG Stadium.

severe hit.

DEFENSE 2015 Unit Profile

Rush Defense - 106.8 ypg (15th in the NFL)
Pass Defense - 268.2 ypg (29th)
Total Defense - 375.0 ypg (24th)
Scoring Defense - 28.0 ppg (31st)

Here's what the Jaguars defense looked like in that last meeting of the 2015 season:

LEO - Andre Branch
DT - Tyson Alualu
DT - Roy Miller
DE - Jared Odrick
WLB - Hayes Pullard
MLB - Paul Posluszny
Nickel - Nick Marshall
LCB - Davon House
FS - Josh Evans
SS - Jonathan Cyprien
RCB - Aaron Colvin

Yeah, well, don't get used to that lineup at all.

Here's what the Jaguars could look like on defense in 2016:

LEO - DANTE FOWLER
DT - Alualu
DT - SEN'DERRICK MARKS
DE - MALIK JACKSON
OLB - TELVIN SMITH
MLB - Posluszny
OLB - MYLES JACK
LCB - PRINCE AMUKAMARA
SS - Cyprien
FS - TASHAUN GIPSON
CB - JALEN RAMSEY

ALL CAPS INDICATE POTENTIALLY DIFFERENT STARTER**

Holy transformation, Batman! Marks and Smith have been valuable members of the Jaguars defense for the past two years, but neither played against the Texans in that last game. Regardless, the Jaguars defense will look incredibly different at all levels, and in all facets, moving forward.

Most significant improvement on the defense 

Uh, better question is what wasn't significantly improved? The secondary seemed to get the biggest face-lift, with the additions of Amukamara, Gipson and Ramsey. Then again, the unit that was 29th in the league in pass defense needed it.

Most impactful players that the Texans didn't face in 2015 

Fowler, Gipson, Jackson, Jack and Ramsey.

 

The best tailgaters in sports had a great morning outside of NRG Stadium.

What will worry Texans fans the most? 

Fowler is the perfect fit at LEO and provides pass rush pressure to complement the changes in the secondary. The secondary face lift is a positive for the Jaguars and the Pos and Telvin Smith stay healthy all season long.

What will worry Jaguars fans the most? 

Mostly, the biggest concern is the health of this entire defense. Fowler is coming off of an ACL tear, missing all of 2015. Jack's injury was one of the biggest storylines in the entire 2016 Draft and he only played a handful of games in his final season at UCLA. Posluszny is no spring chicken and missed 12 games over the past three seasons.

The other worry is the pass rush. Fowler's health and return are tied into that, but no one else on this roster can consistently rush the edge, including $90M man Jackson. He's not that type of player, although he should still be able to impact the defense and the pass rush. Regardless, the best teams in the AFC have at least ONE guy.

Denver - Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware

Oakland - Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin

Kansas City - Justin Houston and Tamba Hali

Houston - JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney 

Pittsburgh - Bud Dupree and James Harrison

Baltimore - Terrell Suggs (when healthy)

New England - Tom Brady (they don't need anyone with this guy still at QB)

The Jaguars know it too because they made a run at Olivier Vernon in free agency, but Vernon chose the Big Lights of the New York Giants. Essentially, Fowler MUST be that guy or else the secondary will take the brunt of the aerial assault, no matter what four or five guys are in the back.

The Houston Texans roster in photos. (Updated 9/7/2020)

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