The NFL season marches on whether we are ready for it or not. The Houston Texans have not been ready the first two weeks for a variety of reasons. It might be a young team. It might be an inexperienced coaching staff. Most of it is probably a rash of injuries that few teams could overcome. Either way, the league stops for no one. The Jaguars will take full advantage as we would if the roles were reversed.
In roses and thorns we look at PFF scores first just to get an idea of which players are playing the best football on both squads. PFF scores are just one data point. Other sources might feel differently. Scores of 80 and above usually denote a Pro Bowl type performance. Scores above 70 usually denote a solid starter. We usually don’t profile scores far below 70 and if we did it would a harbinger of very bad things.
Houston Texans Top Five
WR Nico Collins— 89.2
CB Steven Nelson— 84.2
DE Will Anderson— 72.1
OT George Fant— 70.8
WR Tank Dell— 69.8
Technically, Tavierre Thomas has a PFF over 80. He is not included because he has a broken hand. That somehow seems a fitting microcosm of the 2023 Texans season. Anyone that is any good at their job is probably hurt. Those left are doing the best they can, but just aren’t quite up to the job. The players above are notable exceptions. In particular, seeing Anderson and Dell on the list is heartwarming. C.J. Stroud has been good too, but PFF doesn’t like him for some reason.
Jacksonville Jaguars Top Five
QB Trevor Lawrence— 81.2
DE Josh Allen— 79.7
CB Darious Williams— 79.5
CB Tyson Campbell— 78.1
S Andrew Cisco— 76.1
When you see good players clumped together in the same position groups it is alarming. The Jaguars held a healthy Chiefs team to 17 points. The offense just couldn’t produce more than ten points. However, this becomes dreadfully important when we start looking at strategy.
What Will the Jaguar Offense do the Texans?
Trevor Lawrence is the best player on the Jaguars, but they have struggled so far to score points. The running game hasn’t been good and if you believe PFF the blockers haven’t been either. Yet, this is a team with Calvin Ridley and Evan Engram in the passing game. Christian Kirk and Zay Jones will be good eventually, but they haven’t shown much yet. If the Texans are missing Thomas and their safeties again this could be a very long week for the Texans defense.
What will the Jaguar Defense do to the Texans?
Let’s assume that Laremy Tunsil is back. Let’s assume that George Fant could play a whole football game. From there we still have the middle of the offensive line that is a huge problem. Shaq Lawson appears to be solid enough at right guard. From there you are playing your third string center and goodness knows how many left guards have already rotated through in just two games. The Jaguars will stuff the Texans running game and dare Stroud to beat them. If Allen and Walker are able to apply pressure then it could be a very long day for Stroud.
What will the Texans offense do to the Jaguars?
Obviously, the inverse of what you see above would be ideal. If the Texans could establish a running game it would make life easier for Stroud. More than likely, Stroud will have another game where he throws the ball 50 times. If they can set up a quick passing game he might survive and make some big plays. If the defense shows up they could keep this game close enough for him to make a few key plays.
What will the Texans defense do to the Jaguars?
Let’s assume that DeMeco has cleaned up some issues and the Texans at least look better against the run. They still have to contend with the best quarterback in the division. Lawrence isn’t Anthony Richardson, but he is more athletic than most quarterbacks. Will Anderson and Jonathan Greenard simply have to get more pressure on him than they got this past week. Lawrence has shown that he can make some mistakes, so applying pressure is key for the Texans to have any chance.