Jaguars lackluster offense leads to a 20-7 loss

Drew McDonald, Sports Editor

The Jaguars had a week to prepare for the elusive Deshaun Watson and Jaguars linebacker Donald Payne revealed the key to containing the former Heisman award winner.

“We have some of the best pass rushers in the league, Dante (Fowler Jr.), Malik (Jackson), Calais (Campbell), Yannick (Ngakoue). Deshaun is a dual threat quarterback and I think we contained him pretty well today. This defense runs on a high motor, if we keep that high motor, we keep quarterbacks in the pocket,” Payne said.

However, it was Lamar Miller that would expose the Jaguars defense, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown.

On the first drive of the game, Blake Bortles scrambled for a run up the middle on a third and four but fumbled, giving the ball away to the Texans.

The Texans capitalized on the fumble by kicking a 44-yard field goal, putting the Texans up 3-0.

Throughout the rest of the first quarter, the Texans were driving down the field. The biggest play of the drive was a 31 yard one-handed reception by wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who was in man coverage with cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The drive resulted in a made 48-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 6-0.

The Jaguars had potentially successful drives, but dropped passes by wide receiver Keelan Cole hindered the team from moving the chains.

On the Texans last drive before the half, Deshaun Watson fired a pass to a crowded back of the end zone, safety Tashaun Gipson couldn’t hold onto the pass and missed out on the opportunity of an interception. The very next play, Lamar Miller plunged into the endzone for a touchdown, the score 13-0 Texans.

In the Jaguars first drive of the second half, Bortles fumbled again, rushing up the middle. The fumble was recovered by Texans cornerback, Kareem Jackson.

“It’s all about keeping the ball in front of us, being good tacklers. As a defense, I think we executed the game plan and it’s always good to get a win, “Jackson said.

The Texans extended the lead to 20-0 on a 10-yard touchdown reception by Hopkins.

The Jaguars took a new approach for the offense by subbing in Cody Kessler for the fumbling Bortles. In his first drive, Kessler had a nice pass up the middle to wide receiver Dede Westbrook but couldn’t drive down the field due to the Texans heavy pressure. Texans linebacker, Whitney Mercilus discussed the defense’s objectives against the Jaguars.

“The biggest thing is doing our job. We got to set an edge, build a wall out front, play the technique,” Mercilus said.

On Kessler’s second drive, the USC graduate was firing on all cylinders. Kessler was acting as a game manager, throwing short passes and having the running backs churn through for first downs. The Jaguars got on the board when Kessler fed running back T.J. Yeldon a pass in the end zone. The call was initially an illegal forward pass, but after the Jaguars challenged the play, the referees ruled the play a touchdown, Jaguars clawing back to a 20-7 deficit.

The Jaguars were driving again in the fourth quarter until Kessler threw a direct pass to Yeldon, who couldn’t hold on to the ball, resulting in an interception by Texans safety, Tyrann Mathieu.

That drive was the Jaguars last hope of becoming first place in the AFC South, losing their third straight game.

On the contrary, the Houston Texans are scorching hot, winning their fourth straight game and becoming the sole frontrunner in the AFC South.

Kessler finished the game completing 21 of 30 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown and is making a case to start week eight against the Philadelphia Eagles in London.  

Before the Jaguars head across the pond, the offense has to keep trying out new plays in the book and the rush defense has to tighten up, stacking the box to avoid big runs up the middle.

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