by Richard David Smith III
Houston, we have a problem: The Jacksonville Jaguars.
If you haven’t been following, Jacksonville-you may want to sit down for this-your Jaguars are now the proud owners of an AFC best three game winning streak. This time, Duval faithful got to witness the victory firsthand. The Jaguars won at home for the first time in over a year as they ran with the night and played in the shadows of the Sunshine State in front of a national Thursday night audience on the NFL Network. The Big Cats poured more misery gravy onto the Houston Texans’ nightmare season for the second time in the last three games, this time issuing the beating at EverBank Field in front of an official “tickets distributed” crowd of 60,414. The actual attendance didn’t look nearly that large in person but, sure, why not?
Though it was officially their fourth victory in the books for the 2013 season, in my humble opinion, this was their first complete game victory of the year. Sure, the final score reflected a mere seven point margin of victory at 27-20, but the game was never really that close and the Jaguars were well in control of this one from start to finish. By the time the final gun sounded, there were plenty of highlights and heroics to go around on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars started things off with a steady eight minute drive that was capped by a Chad Henne to Marcedes Lewis one-yard TD pass during which the 6’6″ Lewis exploited a large height advantage over his 5’10” defender (candy from a baby). Cecil Shorts III quickly followed with a TD reception, making it 14-0 early. Maurice Jones-Drew even got in on the fun with his first 100+ yard game of the year, saving his best for prime time before being lost to an ankle injury late in the fourth quarter. This game also featured more trickery from offensive coordinator/mad hatter Jed Fisch. Last week it was MJD with a TD toss, this week it was WR Ace Sanders taking a lateral from quarterback Chad Henne and firing back across field to RB Jordan Todman for the TD in the third quarter. With that bit o’ wizardry, the Texans got trick-daddy-daddied and were given a little taste of the new way we do things in the Dirty South.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Paul Posluszny continued his fine season and had a beastly 13 tackles on the night. Poz would be my Jaguars MVP if the season were to end today, and he and strong safety Johnathan Cyprien are becoming the types of defensive players who seem to be involved in almost every play. The Texans gained a little momentum in the third quarter when “benched starter” Matt Schaub came off the bench after half-time to take over for an ineffective Case Keenum (who Schaub had been benched for earlier in the year-confusing enough?). No matter, the real Matt Schaub finally revealed himself and was intercepted by linebacker Geno Hayes and then sacked by defensive end Ryan Davis as time expired on the Texans’ final two respective drives of the game.
Truth be told, as stalwart as the Jags were, the Texans biggest enemies in this game were probably themselves. The Texans had an astounding 14 penalties for 177 total yards as they fell to a record of 2-11. The Texans-the very definition of implosion-are now losers of 11 straight in a season that many had predicted may end in a Super Bowl appearance for them. Almost needless to say, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was fired after the game.
What we learned: Winners of four of their last five, you don’t need me to tell you that the Jaguars are a team on the upswing. Though they are not yet a playoff caliber team, had they not started off so horrendously (and with such a brutal schedule), they may have realistically found themselves in the wildcard picture in December and are not technically eliminated now (I’ll wait until at least one more win until I get into those complex mathematical scenarios). The Colts clinched the AFC South last Sunday, but they fell to 8-5 after being pummeled by the Cincinnati Bengals and are clearly a team that is wearing down as the season progresses. Given that the rest of AFC South is nothing but a collection of junkyard parts, a wild card birth and even the division-albeit hilariously-would still be in play to anyone flirting with mediocrity. Let this not be forgotten going into next season when you are pondering whether or not to purchase your season tix, as this weak division may lend itself to a quicker turnaround for the Jaguars than perhaps other divisions would.
The team is not giving up on Coach Bradley, and their fight is a great sign. Because of the state the Jaguars were in going into this season, I was skeptical of the hiring of a young and inexperienced Bradley, but hopefully GM Dave Caldwell knows a little more than I do about this stuff (which would be refreshing after the last two clueless GMs).
Miscellaneous News & Notes: Maurice Jones-Drew was pleased with the results of his recent MRI but his status for Week 15 vs. Bills is questionable.the lights at EverBank briefly went out at halftime of the Jaguars game for some reason (giving me flashbacks of the last Super Bowl in New Orleans).a member of the US military proposed marriage at EverBank during the third quarter of Thursday night’s game. The answer: “YES!”. Wondering where the hell mysterious (once designated as “Offensive Weapon”) WR Denard “X” Robinson has been lately? Well, judging by the freshly printed press-issued depth chart that was distributed before last Thursday night’s game, Denard X is not injured, nor is he inactive, he’s just BURIED.I swear I saw Saturday Night Live’s Keenan Thompson in a tilted Jaguars hat on the Fan Cam.
Next Up: The 4-9 (in the other direction) Buffalo Bills look to be the next victims of the red-hot Jaguars. The Jags have been proficient on their first one or two drives of the game over the past month. Teams usually script their initial 15 plays from scrimmage, so perhaps the Jaguars should keep scripting? Seemingly on a trick-play kick, it will be interesting to see what sort of magic Fisch has up his sleeve to keep the season interesting in the remaining weeks ahead vis a vis three very winnable games. The first pick of the draft may now be a distant memory, so just get on over to the stadium and enjoy the wins of the moment!
Jaguars vs. Texans Recap
by Richard David Smith III