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Texans-Jaguars Preview: Five Things To Watch

We break down the key matchups and storylines to watch for during Sunday’s game.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the opening game of the season for the Texans tomorrow. Before the action kicks off tomorrow, it’s time to take stock of some of the key issues facing both teams heading into their Week One tilt.

What kind of offense will we see from the Jaguars?

Jacksonville offensive coordinator Natheniel Hackett came into the job during the middle of last season once former head coach Gus Bradley was fired. The offense went through a series of noticeable changes. Hackett worked heavily on getting the ball out of his QB’s hands and into the hands of his WRs and RBs. Specifically, players like Marqise Lee, who lined up in and out of the slot, were used often on fake jet sweeps or as receivers for quick screen passes. It was offense built to work on the fly with little to no preparation. With an entire offseason behind them, the structure of the Jags’ offense is going to be interesting to study, especially considering the talent they have at their disposal at WR and the struggles their QB has had throwing the ball downfield.

What will the full strength Texans defense look like?

Kick ass, presumably. Jokes aside, we have seen precious little of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney together at the same time to really get a grasp for what the ideal Houston defense might look like. New defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel is a complete unknown as well. How he utilizes that front seven and arranges alingnments is going to be fascinating to watch. How will the DBs tend to line up?. Under Romeo Crennel, there was a lot of off-man coverage to take away deeper passing routes in case the pass rush struggled to get to the quarterback. Watt’s return could lead to a lot more press man coverage looks.

How will Allen Robinson and DeAndre Hopkins factor into their respective offenses?

To say that both Robinson and Hopkins struggled last season would be an understatement. Both suffered from poor QBs who couldn’t push the ball down the field to the areas where both receivers do their best work. The Texans did well to generate touches for Hopkins towards the end of the season via some shallow crossing routes and comeback routes; that allowed for potential yards after the catch. Robinson excels deeper down the field with his route running and his big 6’3” frame winning contested catches. With Blake Bortles’ struggles, how will the Jags generate touches for Robinson?

How will the Texansoffensive line hold up?

The Texans; offensive line is one of the biggest concerns heading into the season. With Duane Brown continuing his holdout, the offensive line will be under even more stress than usual. The Jags have made upgrades to their defensive line with the addition of Calais Campbell, and he may match up against the Texans’ (essentially) rookie center Nick Martin. Meanwhile, Brown’s replacement, Kendall Lamm, will presumably face off against second-year pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who is coming off a promising rookie campaign of his own.

Will the Texans special teams improve?

It has to happen eventually, right? RIGHT?!?!?!?

Houston’s special teams has long been a sore spot for the team, with multiple instances of the Texans giving points and excellent field position to opposing teams due to poor tackling or miscommunication. The punt and kick-off return game has struggled. Tyler Ervin is the presumed return man and will hopefully bounce back, putting the woes of last year behind him to finally help the special teams turn the corner.

Those are just some of the storylines heading into the game on Sunday, and there are plenty more worth watching out for, too. What match-up or player(s) are you most excited to see tomorrow?