Getting right to the chase, there was nothing honestly to take out of this 31-3 onslaught that the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars unleashed on Sunday afternoon. I wanted desperately to interview a player on the field following the game, which I do in wins at home, but eight games at home ended with no interviews in front of the home folks. There'll be some next year, but that's a long way off.
Let's dive right in.
DB Jalen Pitre didn't have his best game, but he did rack up his fifth interception in the second half. In fact, the Texans won the turnover battle, finishing with two picks to one takeaway for the Jaguars. The difference? The Texans didn't register a point on either turnover drive and the Jaguars took the one Texans fumble back for a score.
Either way, back to Pitre, the rookie continued his rise as one of the best safeties to ever don a Texans uniform. The rookie racked up 13 tackles to give him 139 on the season and the one interception to give him five on the season. Last week, I noted (with some help from our great PR department) that Pitre was one of three rookies to rack up 125+ tackles and four interceptions since 1991. LB Kiko Alonso racked up 159 tackles and four interceptions for the Bills in 2013. Our own Brian Cushing had 133 stops and four interceptions. So, with Pitre's pick and tackle performance, he's the first player since 1991 to have 135+ tackles and five interceptions as a rookie. That's incredibly impressive.
The Houston defensive trio showed up today. Pitre, from Stafford, TX, posted those 13 tackles and an interception. Jerry Hughes from Austin HS in the Fort Bend ISD had a sack, his ninth of the season, four tackles, one TFL and a QB hit. Alief's Ogbo Okoronkwo had the other sack on the day, two TFLs and a QB hit. The two DL had the only sacks on the day and Pitre led the team in tackles.
The offensive line that had been so good lately didn't give up ten sacks like the opener against Jacksonville in 2017, but two sacks and 12 QB hits were enough to slow this Texans offense throughout the day. The Jaguars were well aware of the fact that the Texans out-physicaled them back in Duval County in Week 5. That was flipped on its head as the Jaguars opened a can of you-know-what physically and the entire Texans offensive unit struggled.
It did appear as if Texans RB Dare Ogunbowale was going to gash the Jaguars run defense as he started the game with a nine-yard run and a seven-yard run on the first drive. But, he had five more carries for just five yards as the Jaguars adjusted and completely shut the run game down.
The Texans had their best drive early in the second quarter following a Desmond King II interception. The Texans picked up a first down on a Davis Mills to O.J. Howard bootleg. I thought that was going to kickstart the offense as Howard roared up the field for 26 yards. But, a drop, an incompletion and lack of execution stalled the drive before the Texans could put points on the board.
There were numerous open receivers on deep routes down the field and that was just one of the big issues today for the Texans on Sunday. The offense was out of sync after the first drive stalled following a missed 4th-and-1 conversion. After that, it was start and stop, mostly stop, though, all day long on the offensive side of the ball.
I do really like the way that Texans DL Roy Lopez Jr. is playing on the interior. He seems to be creating chaos and knifing into the backfield routinely over the past few weeks. He had a TFL early in the game. The run defense was gashed on a 62-yard run, but had some bright moments in the first half slowing the Jaguars running attack. But, missed tackles and bad run fits/positioning cost the defense mightily on Travis Etienne's 62-yard touchdown jaunt.
Weird stat of the day - In a 28-point loss, the Texans had just one fewer trip to the red zone than the Jaguars. They had two, scoring TDs on both red zone drives, while the Texans ended their red zone drive on downs and no points.
This was just not a fun day on the first day of 2023. The home schedule is over and hopefully brighter days are ahead in 2023 at NRG Stadium. LOTS 'o work to do before that, though, as there's still one to play next week in Indianapolis. See ya then, everyone!
Browse photos from the Texans-Jaguars Week 17 matchup.