The Jaguars can end a decade-long playoff drought with a win over Houston on Sunday. Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper preview the game and what the playoffs would mean to the Jaguars community.
by Cole Pepper
November 24, 2013
The Jaguars handed the Texans their 9th straight loss with a 13-6 victory in Houston, the Jaguars second win in three games. Jacksonville (2-9) and Texans now have the same record.
1. Jaguars Effort Remains Good-If you look around the league at the other teams who are struggling, most of them are in a whirlpool of uncertainty. The Jaguars are not, at least not with the decision makers. Yes, there will be changes and additions to the roster in the off-season, but Gus Bradley is going to be the coach and Dave Caldwell is going to be the GM. Of all of the teams struggling, the Jaguars appear to be in the best place with regard to stability and certainty moving forward. Things could have unraveled with Cecil Shorts’ comments earlier this week and the benching of defensive end Jeremy Mincey for violating team rules, but the Jaguars seem to have captured something that will go unnoticed by most of the rest of the league because they aren’t winning enough: they appear to believe that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. That reflects well on Bradley.
2. Cecil Shorts play after his comments-Cecil Shorts was outspoken last week, saying that he wanted the ball more. Against the Texans, Shorts was targeted 11 times (the most of any player in the game) and caught eight passes for 71 yards. In the fourth quarter, Shorts had back to back chances to make big plays, but couldn’t hang on to a deep pass by Denard Robinson, then a Chad Henne 3rd down pass. It’s find for Shorts to want the ball more, but he must raise his game, even against top cover corners like Jonathan Joseph.
3. Andre Branch making strides – Branch is a perfect example of what this season is about for the Jaguars: evaluation. You would have been hard pressed to find a Branch supporter a month ago, but Gus Bradley talked to the second year defensive end about his effort and began working on his repertoire of pass rush moves. Since then, Branch has been a factor for the firs time in his career. In fact, he may have shown enough to save his career with the Jaguars going forward.
4. Draft Implications – With the Texans loss and the Jaguars win, there are now four teams with two wins. If you like handicapping the race to the #1 pick, note that Minnesota (with a tie), Atlanta, Jacksonville and Houston all have two victories, and Tampa Bay is also in the mix with 3 wins, including a victory over Detroit Sunday. Of those five, all but Atlanta need a quarterback. We’ll keep an eye on it.
5. Gus Stays Bold – Last week, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley vowed to remain bold and aggressive. The Jaguars showed boldness, going for it on 4th and goal from the 1. Maurice Jones-Drew plunged in for the first touchdown of the game. The Jaguars also used some bold play calls, including a creative pass rush from defensive end Andre Branch, who looped all the way around from right defensive end, around the left side of the defensive line, to get to Case Keenum.
Play of the Game (Jaguars Edition) – Ace Sanders 51 yard slant in the first quarter put the Jaguars in scoring range and led to the first touchdown of the game.
Player of the Game (Jaguars Edition) – Quarterback Chad Henne completed 23 of 32 passes for 239 yards, and despite not throwing a touchdown, his willingness to hang in against the rush allowed the Jaguars to convert 7 of 17 on 3rd down, which is not a great number, but consider that the Jaguars came into the game converting on just 27% of third downs and it shows marked improvement.