Breaking down five plays from the Jaguars’ 29-7 win over Houston on Sunday:
1. BRINGING THE PRESSURE
Situation: Trailing 3-0 on its opening possession, Houston had second-and-nine from its 26.
In hindsight, nobody could have blamed Texans starting quarterback Tom Savage had he stayed on the Houston turf after this play and never gotten up. Because it would only get worse from here. The Jaguars rushed four with Savage alone in shotgun and got home in 2.7 seconds. Calais Campbell, coming from Savage’s right from more of a five-technique spot, completely overpowered right tackle Breno Giacomini while nose tackle Abry Jones dominated guard Jeff Allen from the three-technique position. Giacomini and Allen were each back pedaling nearly the moment the ball was snapped, leaving Savage little time to survey what looked to be a zone defense deployed by the Jaguars. Campbell and Jones split the sack, which was the first of franchise-record 10 on the day by the Jaguars’ defense.
2. PUNCHING IT IN
Situation: Leading 6-0 in the final minute of the second quarter, the Jaguars had fourth-and-goal from inside the Houston 1.
Going back to the days of Toby Gerhart at running back, the Jaguars have struggled to run effectively in short-yardage situations. Leonard Fournette could change all of that. Precisely the reason the Jaguars drafted Fournette fourth overall came late in the first half. The Jaguars lined up in a goal-line formation with tight end Marcedes Lewis on right tackle Jermey Parnell’s right hip with an extra lineman (Tyler Shatley) and a tight end (Ben Koyack) to the left of tackle Cam Robinson on the opposite side and fullback Tommy Bohanon in front of Fournette in the backfield. At the snap, right guard A.J. Cann pulled to meet linebacker Brian Cushing in the A-gap, and Fournette did the rest. Originally contacted at about the 1 (the Jaguars did not get a great push up the middle), Fournette lowered his head and got just enough drive to get into the end zone. A running back with the balance and power combination of Fournette can make up for an offensive line’s shortcomings. Case and point here.
3. DEFENSE MAKES AN IMPACT
Situation: Trailing 12-0 in the final minute of the first half, the Texans had second-and-16 from the Jaguars’ 37.
Three plays (two defensive pass interference calls and a sack) after the Jaguars had a defensive touchdown erased following a review, defensive ends Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler left no doubt. With Savage in the shotgun and a running back next to him, the Jaguars rushed five with linebacker Myles Jack coming on a blitz. Safety Tashaun Gipson had good coverage on tight end Stephen Anderson’s out route, allowing Ngakoue, who was coming from the quarterback’s left, to use a speed move and shake past left tackle Chris Clark, who had replaced the benched Kendall Lamm. Nearly untouched, Ngakoue stripped Savage in 2.1 seconds. Fowler picked up the ball as it squirted on the turf and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the first half.
4. ANSWERING BACK
Situation: Leading 19-7 midway through the third quarter, the Jaguars had third-and-8 from the Houston 46.
After the Texans scored on the opening drive of the second half to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 19-7, the offense answered back with maybe its most important drive of the game. Blake Bortles lined up in shotgun with running back Chris Ivory next to him. Bortles had one receiver (Keelan Cole) to his left and two (Allen Hurns in the slot, Marqise Lee wide) to his right. Houston rushed just four, and the offensive line provided a clean pocket for Bortles to step up and hit Hurns (covered by cornerback Kareem Jackson) on a dig route after 3.2 seconds for a gain of 13 yards to the Texans’ 33. The completion was the second third-down conversion on the drive. Five plays later, Bortles found Bohanon for a 1-yard touchdown.
5. FINISHING IT OFF
Situation: Trailing 26-7 late in the fourth quarter, the Texans had second-and-goal from the Jaguars’ 20.
Truthfully, the game was decided by this point. But considering only Chicago forced fewer takeaways than the Jaguars’ 13 last season, putting an exclamation point on a dominant defensive effort with an interception by Gipson is exactly what this team needed. The Jaguars rushed four and dropped into zone, and defensive end Dawuane Smoot continued a rough day for Giacomini by showing good bend to get around the edge to the right of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who replaced Savage after halftime. Watson forced a throw (in 2.3 seconds) to Anderson, setting up an easy opportunity for Gipson to step in front of the pass and grab an interception and return it 67 yards to set a Jaguars field goal.
Phillip Heilman: (904) 359-4063