The Houston Texans (0-4) begin the post-Bill O’Brien era Sunday as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) from NRG Stadium. Will the Texans’ offense break out of its funk without Bill O’Brien overseeing the gameplan and playcalling? We will find out together. For now, here is how the BRB staff sees this game playing out.
Tim: Texans 31, Jaguars 24.
I expect Tim Kelly to default to what Houston should have been doing all along—let Deshaun Watson make plays. Look for more shots downfield and less of an emphasis on running between the tackles. The Texans’ defense is still bad, but I don’t think the Jaguars have the personnel to take advantage of it the way they other teams can. The first victory of the campaign is nigh!
Chris: Texans 30, Jaguars 23.
I expect the Texans to let it all hang out Sunday. The offense will look better and Deshaun Watson will look improved, but I don’t see a whole lot of hope for the defense to suddenly turn it around. The truth of the matter is - it’s the Jaguars. The Texans are more than a new coach away from being a good football team, but at least now we are on the path of not knowing what the future holds rather than knowing exactly where we were going, which was nowhere.
Matt Weston: Texans 30, Jaguars 27.
I have Houston scoring 30 based on whether Myles Jack is out. If he is, Houston should have no trouble running the ball off tackle. Although the Texans’ run game is bad, their run blocking is bad, and David Johnson hasn’t made anyone miss when given the chance to (aside from that one run against the Chiefs), the Bengals’ inept rushing attack was able to put 200+ yards on Jacksonville by exploiting runs off tackle. This is the one time ESTABLISHING THE RUN and getting the run game back on track, like Tim Kelly and Romeo Crennel mentioned this week, actually makes sense.
Plus, Jacksonville’s safety play is atrocious. C.J. Henderson and Josh Allen may not play either. The Texans should be able to finally throw the ball downfield this week, even though this was true last week as well.
Houston’s pass defense is bad enough that the Jaguars can still score. If Jack doesn’t play, it should be a blowout. If he does, I could see this being a fun and meaningless Sunday afternoon.
bfMFd: Glitter Kitties 20, Texans 19.
From what we’ve heard from Tim Kelly this week, there is little reason to believe the offense will be even a little different. Considering Kelly sat by BOB’s side for three years “learning” this “offense,” this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Even with the weak link defense, I don’t see the Glitter Kitties putting up a ton of points.
One of the most amazing aspects about the BOB era was the ability of the team to win one score games. This was, in large part, by design, as BOB had no ability to finish off opponents. Thus, in a lot of ways, it seems like the Texans as a franchise are due to regress in one score games. This is one of those.
l4blitzer: Texans 30, Jaguars 25.
This game is a hard one to get a read on, especially with the massive upheaval on the Texans’ side. Everything from a Texans blowout to the Jags coming in and winning by 7-10 pts seems reasonable. As of late, when Jacksonville comes to town, you can figure on the Texans winning, but the game usually deteriorates into a brutal slog, with the only thing of beauty being the increase by 1 in the win column. If the events of Monday afternoon in Houston had not come to pass, I might have called a repeat of the usual pattern.
However, Black Monday came early for BO’B, and the team is under new (interim) management on the field. It seems apparent that the last few weeks were especially brutal on the team, and not just because of the brutal schedule. Will the change in attitude help the performance on the field? It might. It is likely that the practices were no longer a time for achieving perfection, but a time to actually learn and improve for Sundays. In particular, if Watson and Watt come out with a new attitude of hope and joy, this could bode well.
Changes in leadership can help, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are still significant issues on both sides of the ball. Jacksonville will be able to move the ball on the Texans, and they will score some points. However, the Jags are not bringing the defense of old. If the Texans could actually maximize their time in practice learning and not in fear, we might see more than just a few flashes of brilliance.
Maybe the offense will be all hoped for, at least for this week. The offense will score more than 23, and the defense will have its best game of bend-but-don’t-completely-shatter. Or at least the Texans best hope that happens. A loss here might shatter the new Era of Good Feelings, and the Game-of-Texans winner Jack Easterby might just decide it is time to Red Wedding the team, trading more players for draft picks and cap relief.
I think people are genuinely excited to see what will happen with the team, on and off the field. That’s not something you could say for the past few weeks. Oh, and I am calling the for the Texans to get their first turnover of the season, so they should have that going for them.
Mike Bullock: Texans 31, Jaguars 27.
It would be the most Houston Texans thing ever to come out and totally dominate in every phase of the game, equally so to let Jacksonville back in the door late in the 4th quarter.
As we often see when teams make head coaching changes mid-season, the next opponent doesn’t know what to expect and gets taken by surprise. The talking heads will declare that the change was the best thing ever and ultimate shade will land on the outgoing coach. A mini-celebration will ensue post-game and the world will naively declare all is right with the Texans.
While everything is lining up for that to happen again, nothing is near right in Houston right now and won’t be for quite some time. Bill O’Brien left the team a mess. With little assets available to clean up what Romeo Crennel inherited, the interim Houston Texans head coach will have to dig deep and make some lemonade with his lemons. As the old adage goes, winning cures all. Houston goes in and gets their first win of 2020 this weekend and while it won’t cure all, for at least a few hours to days, we’ll have a little oasis from the pain of Houston Texans fandom.
Thankfully, players like Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Justin Reid and Will Fuller are used to winning games in spite of their head coach. Now that they don’t have to overcome poor clock management, bad play calling, and sideline confusion leading to wasted timeouts, expect the stars of the Texans to do what they do best and start winning.
Anyone know the over/under on whether Crennel has a play for 4th and 1?
Carlos: Texans 28, Jaguars 21.
This game should be a lot more fun to watch. With his puppet master gone, Tim Kelly should open up the playbook and treat the remainder of this season as his creative sandbox.
On the defensive side, I’m guessing that we’ll end the game with two turnovers—a fumble recovery and an interception. Minshew will have some flashy plays, but not enough sustenance to lead the Glitter Kitties to victory.
The sun is shining on the Texans (literally), I think the biggest thing that we’ll notice is a mood swing from the players. Keep an eye on the warmups. I’m willing to bet that the guys will have some fun and seem more relaxed.
I’m going to throw in an extra guess: We’ll convert a 4th down on our side of the field. Is there a reason? Not really. I’d just love to see the Texans have a successful play on 4th down.
Joe Critz: Texans 24, Jaguars 21.
This will be less of a case of Houston actually playing good football and more of a case of Jacksonville just completely collapsing. Jacksonville can’t stop a nosebleed on defense, so as long as we pass the ball (God willing), scoring points will not be difficult.
Jay Gruden has set up a good system for Gardner Minshew II and James Robinson; Gruden has been a fairly effective playcaller already, similar to what he was in Washington. The challenge for Anthony Weaver will be containing D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault Jr., and Robinson, who are all game-changing weapons. Cincinnati did a good enough job at preventing Jacksonville from busting the game wide open, and I expect Houston to do the same.
On a more somber note, who would’ve thought we’d be entering this game with Deshaun Watson being the worst quarterback in the AFC South? That streak has to end this game, The Texans will be in a serious uphill battle if they let Minshew dice them up and Watson can’t do the same.
Kenneth L.: Texans 32, Jaguars 27.
Houston will come out firing on all cylinders as they showcase what they really can do without O’Brien. Expect trick plays, gadgets, and sorcery throughout the game. I bet this is very much like the Atlanta game last year where the Texans are leading and the dominant team, but they can’t maintain a comfortable lead at any moment. I’ll be curious to see if the defense shows up or not. This is a must-watch game as a pivotal moment in Texans history.
Will the Texans break out with a huge win? Or will they flop around on the NRG turf like a dying fish? Use the comments section to predict the outcome, and above all, enjoy the game!