Trap game. This is a term that can be used for the Texans week one match-up with the Jaguars. Outside of Jacksonville, there is not a lot faith that the Jaguars will be able to win, Houston is favored by nearly every sports outlet, analyst etc. However all of these factors combine into the trap game scenario.
After the 2015 season, the Jaguars appeared to be a time on the rise, Blake Bortles appeared to be an above average quarterback and Jacksonville selected standout defensive back Jalen Ramsey in the draft. Things appeared to be looking up before what ended up a disappointing season. Bortles regressed, the defense was unable to stop anyone and head coach Gus Bradley was fired after a 2-12 start.
With new coach Doug Marrone, the Jaguars look to rebound and find similar success that was found throughout the 2015 season. A key addition to their offense is rookie running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette was a star at LSU and hopes to build upon his success at the next level. Fournette has the talent to be a top-level running back in the NFL. A combination of Bortles and Fournette could prove troublesome for the Texans defense. Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns were unable to duplicate their success from 2015, but look to bounce-back from a sub-par 2016 season.
The Texans offense will also have to make adjustments as they have a new starting quarterback in Tom Savage. Savage is still a relative unknown in the NFL and has only thrown a small amount of passes. What is also playing against Savage is the fact that he will be without wide receivers Will Fuller and Jaelen Strong. Fuller suffered a broken collarbone while Strong is suspended week one for a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. This leaves Savage with receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Braxton Miller, Andy Jones and Bruce Ellington. Outside of Hopkins none of these receivers will strike fear into the Jaguars. Savage must rely on heavy use of tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz and Ryan Griffin in the passing game.
Houston’s offense will be focused on the running game for two reasons; it is their strength and it will be a necessity with injuries to the receiving corps. Running back Lamar Miller will see the bulk of the carries while Alfred Blue comes in to spell him occasionally to give him a breather. Even with this temporary offensive plan there will be issues when the game starts.
Jacksonville is entirely aware of the lack of targets for Savage and their potential focus on the running game. It is entirely possible that the Jaguars defense will stack the line of scrimmage to force Savage to pass to unproven targets such as Miller, Jones and Ellington. Houston will have to adjust to the Jacksonville defense to ensure that they are not playing into their defensive plans. It’s important to establish the run, however if the defense is constantly showing and eight man front, it is time to change the play calling.
The Texans are a better team than the Jaguars and should come away this Sunday with a win. Houston matches up well with Jacksonville and should have the advantage on both sides of the field but this does not mean they should dismiss their opponent as a threat. Stranger things have happened in the NFL and the Jaguars pulling off an upset in week one would be one of them.