The Jaguars walked all over the New York Jets in Jacksonville in Week 4 of this season. That win moved them to 3-1 and they had loads of confidence heading to Kansas City for a showdown with the dynamic Chiefs offense. From that point forward, the 2017 AFC South champs hit road blocks at every turn. They scored all of 28 points (three fewer than in that win over the Jets) over the next three weeks before heading to London. A loss to the Eagles had the Jaguars in a tailspin from which they would never recover.
After the bye, the Jaguars had plenty of opportunities to turn it around but close losses dominated the landscape. Three-point loss to Indy. Late four-point loss to Pittsburgh. Three-point loss to Buffalo. But, just when it seemed as if the wheels would fall off, they found a way to shut out the hottest team in the league - the Colts. Then, last week, they mustered enough offense to outlast Miami on the road. Clearly, this team continues to compete until there are zeroes on the clock every week.
Telvin Smith is still playing with some juice. Calais Campbell is still wrecking shop. Yannick Ngakoue is still turning and burning the edge. Jalen Ramsey is as feisty as ever and loves seeing DeAndre Hopkins on the other side of the field. And, the offense hasn't quit, but, unfortunately for those in Duval County, it's a shell of what it was when these two teams met in Week 7. The good news for the Jaguars, though, is that Leonard Fournette will play in this contest and Blake Bortles is back as the starter. However, the offensive line has just one starter remaining (right guard A.J. Cann) from the group that started the season against the Giants. The Jaguars are on their fourth starting left tackle and had to move recently-signed guard Patrick Omameh to right tackle after Josh Wells got hurt again during last Sunday's win over Miami.
That's been the secondary story of this team, though. The main story has been the play at quarterback. Blake Bortles will start again and that might give Jacksonville more of a shot in the arm because he can run, making a myriad of plays with his legs. Last week's starter Cody Kessler was a sitting duck against Miami behind that makeshift offensive line. Bortles won't be, though, and he's THE major factor in this one.
Without further ado, let's get to Know Saturday's foe - the Jacksonville Jaguars, for a second time.
Schedule - Record (5-10)
W, 20-16 @ New York Giants
W, 31-20 v. New England Patriots
L, 9-6 v. Tennessee Titans
W, 31-12 New York Jets
L, 30-14 @ Kansas City Chiefs
L, 40-7 @ Dallas Cowboys
L, 20-7 v. Houston Texans
L, 24-18 v. Philadelphia Eagles
L, 29-26 @ Indianapolis Colts
L, 20-16 v. Pittsburgh Steelers
L, 24-21 @ Buffalo Bills
W, 6-0 v. Indianapolis Colts
L, 30-9 @ Tennessee Titans
L, 16-13 v. Washington Redskins
W, 17-7 @ Miami Dolphins
Rushing yards per game - 112.9 ypg (18th in the NFL)
Passing yards per game - 201.3 ypg (26th)
Total offense per game - 314.2 ypg (27th)
Turnovers lost - 27 (12 INT, 15 fumbles lost) - Jaguars are -11 in TO margin (T-29th in the NFL)
Jaguars Starting Offense Last Sunday vs. Dolphins
QB - CODY KESSLER (Blake Bortles will start vs. Texans on Sunday)
RB - Leonard Fournette
FB - Tommy Bohanon
WR - Dede Westbrook
WR - DONTE MONCRIEF
TE - James O'Shaughnessy
LT - ERECK FLOWERS
LG - PATRICK OMAMEH (started vs. Texans in Week 3 as a member of Giants, moved to RT late in first half)
C - Chris Reed
RG - A.J. Cann
RT - Josh Wells (left game vs. Miami in first half with an injury)
Other Key Offensive Pieces
G - Tyler Shatley
RB - CARLOS HYDE
WR - Rashad Greene
WR - Keelan Cole
TE - BLAKE BELL
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to Stopping the Jaguars Offense
1. Stop Blake Bortles, the running back.
2. Bring your big boy pads to stop Leonard Fournette. He's going to challenge every defender to a 1-on-1 fight every time he carries the ball. STEP UP TO THE CHALLENGE but finish him every time he carries it.
3. Keep the deep threats in front at all times. Make Bortles have to be accurate and on time for 10 to 12 plays every drive.
4. Bortles in the well vs. Bortles on the run is like comparing a hamburger to filet mignon. He becomes a whole different weapon when he can escape and create.
5. SCREEEEEEEENS are coming in all shapes and forms.
Rushing yards allowed per game - 115.7 ypg (18th in the NFL)
Passing yards allowed per game - 193.7 ypg (2nd)
Total offense allowed per game - 309.4 ypg (5th)
Turnovers generated - 16 (11 INT, 5 Fumbles recovered)
Jaguars Starting Defense Last Sunday vs. Dolphins
DE - Yannick Ngakoue
NT - Abry Jones
DT - Marcell Dareus
DE - Calais Campbell
WLB - Telvin Smith
MLB - Myles Jack
CB - Jalen Ramsey
S - Tashaun Gipson
S - Jarrod Wilson
CB - A.J. Bouye
Nickel - D.J. HAYDEN
Other Key Defensive Pieces
DT/DE - Malik Jackson
LB - Lerentee McCray
DE - Dawuane Smoot
ILB - NICK DeLUCA
DT/DE - TAVEN BRYAN (rookie)
**All caps indicates a 2018 addition
Keys to Winning vs. the Jaguars Defense
1. Please, please, PLEASE block Yannick Ngakoue to the whistle - do not let him wreck the game because of his relentless nature getting to the quarterback.
2. Although nickel D.J. Hayden has been better, he's still the one player in the Jaguars secondary that the Texans can attack with some success. Trying Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye repeatedly isn't a recipe for success.
3. Run downhill and right at those fast linebackers. The more that the Texans offense allows Myles Jack and Telvin Smith to run sideline to sideline to make plays in the run game, the less the Texans will be able to run the ball effectively.
4. Occupy Calais Campbell with a man and a half or two men each time Deshaun Watson goes back to pass. He might be 32, but he's still able to take over the game as he did in Miami.
5. Smoke and mirrors can impact undisciplined eyes. Jacksonville's defense wants to play fast and without hesitation. Ball fakes, orbit motion, play action - anything to counter their over-aggressiveness could help the Texans offense.
Check out the best Week 16 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.