In preparing for this post, I decided to watch the Itty Bitty Glitter Kitty Committee play against the Ravens on Monday night. First of all, let me just say that I, along with whatever poor souls sat down expecting to watch football, expect an apology and financial restitution by ESPN for the three hours of my life that I'll never get back.
While watching the Jaguars game on Monday night and the horrible, horrible play between them and the Ravens (seriously, ESPN owes anyone who watched that game an apology and possibly punitive damages), I started thinking more and more about this movie called "Broadcast News" starring Albert Brooks. It's not because I like this movie, or that it's particularly funny, or well written, or any of those things. It's because one line from that movie seemed to sum up the entirety of Monday night's game.
"At some point, somewhere, things got so bad, they became funny."
And you know, it might have been when Guy Whimper (no, really, that's his name) slapped, or open-hand punched as Kevin Harlan called it, Brendon Ayanbadejo, prompting him to punch back and get ejected; maybe it was when the subsequent penalty and ejection landed the Jags on first and goal at the Ravens' three-yard line and they still couldn't get the ball into the end zone; or maybe it was the fact that at halftime their combined offensive efforts didn't even total 100 yards or the 739.6 fumbles (rough estimate), but I have never laughed during a single football game so much in my entire life. And I watched the Texans play defense last year.
This is the Texans' next opponent. Just take a moment to let that sink in.
Now that we've gotten some cheap laughs, let's hit the jump and look at ways the Texans can exploit the Twilight Sparkly Kittehs on both sides of the ball.
The Jaguars Offensive Line, or, How The Texans Will Commit Murder on Live Television and Get Away With It.
I really wish Mario Williams was healthy for this game. Because going up against this offensive line might have given him a year's supply of unicorn blood. Their ability to pass block has been, to put it kindly, abysmal. Football Outsiders ranks them 31st in pass protection. Pro Football Focus shows that they've given up 19 sacks on the year so far, 10 of those coming on the shoulders of two players: right tackle Guy "Slappy" Whimper (5), and rookie left guard Will Rackley (5).
The Jaguar o-line has also been racked with injuries since Week Two. Since then, the Jags have trotted out five different starting lines. If Monday night's game is any indication of what's to come, we may see yet another line configuration this Sunday. Rackley has been filling in for Eben Britton, and there's no word as of this posting whether Britton would be ready for Sunday's game. Slappy Whimper, however, is certain to play, and I would not be surprised to see, assuming he lines up at his usual right tackle spot, Connor Barwin get into the Jaguars backfield frequently.
Here He Comes To Save The Daaaaaaaay...That Means That Mighty MouseMaurice Jones-Drew Is On The Way...
The Jaguars' line is a lot better at run blocking than they are at pass blocking, in the sense that ptomaine poisoning is better than contracting Ebola. Football Outsiders has the Jags' o-line ranked 18th in the league in run blocking, and with the second most rushing yards in the NFL (677), Maurice Jones-Drew has made every run count. According to PFF, Drew's runs have been spread pretty evenly throughout the line. Of the holes he hits (I'll wait for y'all to stop laughing...okay, can't wait THAT long), he runs mostly on the outside of the line. Almost 1/3 of MJD's runs have come on either the left (22 carries) or right (24 carries) ends of the line. It's also where he gets most of his yardage from (262 yards).
This worries me, since the Texans' run defense isn't as stout as it has been in the past, but I think it won't be much of a worry. Because the Texans are going to stuff the box and force Gabbert to pass.
Submitted for your approval, one Blaine Gabbert, a rookie quarterback out of Missouri whose luck took a severe turn for the worse when coach-for-life Jack of the River Del Rio drafted him to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though early in his career, his play has inspired tears of pity and tears of laughter, which will likely only get worse as he steps into...the Toro Zone (What? They can't all be winners, y'know).
Mediocre Rod Serling impressions aside, Gabbert has been pressed into service in a terrible situation. His numbers bear that out. Gabbert is ranked 34th in completion percentage at 48.3%. To give some context, Kerry Collins and Rex Grossman have...okay, had, better completions rates than Gabbert. Gabbert is also 32nd in passing yards with 803. With numbers like these, you'd think that this was a run-first team, and to some extent they are, but not as much as you'd think. The run/pas ratio is roughly 45/55 in favor of the run. What damage Gabbert does do through the air almost entirely occurs within the first 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, with him having the most luck with the right side of the field. So expect to see a lot of short, right-favoring passes from Gabbert...assuming he doesn't get sacked into oblivion.
So...thoughts? I know y'all have them. Make comments until your heart's content!
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