4:00 p.m. ET
70 Degrees/ Partly Cloudy/ 13 MPH E-NE Wind
Key Coaching Decision #1: (HOU ball, leading 3-0 / third-and-21, JAC 45 / 3:24 Q1)
• Facing third-and-long, the Texans lined up in the shotgun and with one running back (Lamar Miller) in the backfield. Rather than try to throw the ball desperately down the field, QB Deshaun Watson handed the ball off to Miller and he ran for 16 yards. Even though he was short of the first down, he did manage to get the Texans into field goal range. Kicker Kai Fairbairn then kicked a 48-yard field goal to increase the Texans’ lead to 6-0.
• This showed that the Texans could run the ball on the Jaguars, and they did so throughout the game. Head coach Bill O’Brien recognized there would not be many scoring opportunities in this game. The Texans would have to take advantage of every opportunity to win a road game against an AFC South rival and they did just that.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (JAX ball, trailing 13-0 / third-and-7, JAC 4 / 11:37 Q3)
• The Jaguars stopped the Texans on the first possession of the second half and forced a Texans punt. On the Jaguars’ third play of the second half, quarterback Blake Bortles, a decent runner, tried to scramble for a first down, but was instead caught and the ball was knocked loose. The Texans recovered the fumble on the 12-yard line and later scored a touchdown. This puts the Texans ahead by three scores and the Jaguars coaching staff sits Bortles in favor of backup Cody Kessler on the next series.
• The Texans, who began the season 0-3, have now won their fourth consecutive game and are in sole possession of first place in the AFC South.
• The Texans have a short week, as they play the banged-up Dolphins at home. This could be an early knockout game for a Wild Card spot.
• Quarterback Deshaun Watson took a 12-hour bus ride to and from the game so as to not aggravate or complicate some pre-existing lung and chest injuries by flying. This was smart on the part of the team.
• Watson was just 12 of 24 for 139 yards and a touchdown, yet he threw no picks and was not constantly under siege. He was sacked once and hit only five times, a considerable difference from what had been occurring in the previous six games (he came into the game having been sacked 25 times and hit 70 times). Part of the improvement may be because the Texans have appeared to take out many of the designed quarterback runs from the offense to try and keep Watson healthy for the entirety of the season.
• The Texans running game stepped up versus the Jaguars and pounded away for 141 yards, with 105 of them coming before the half.
• This is a team in freefall. They head to London for their yearly game “across the pond” — however, this year’s trip probably won’t be festive. The plane will be filled with a team that has a rift growing between the offense and the defense. The locker room reportedly was a loud and contentious place after Sunday’s loss. No word yet on if the two units are taking separate planes.
• The issue with Jacksonville is at quarterback. This might be the first time that the team has acknowledged it by benching Bortles. It just could not be ignored any longer on Sunday as Bortles was 6 of 12 passing for 51 yards, and lost two fumbles that led to 10 Texans points. Bortles wasn’t helped by key drops by his wide receivers, but the offense stagnated under Bortles and seemed to get a charge with Kessler at quarterback.
• Who starts at quarterback in London this week has yet to be determined. The Jaguars may stick with previous starter Blake Bortles or backup Cody Kessler. It’s a different game plan for each as Kessler doesn’t appear to throw with the distance or the velocity that Bortles does. There’s a danger in losing the team if Bortles is the starter and the same lackluster results are achieved.
• For the third straight game, the Jaguars did not score in the first half. Not only have they not scored, they’ve had double-digit deficits in each of the games. They were down 13-0 at home Sunday against Houston, and down in two road games — 24-0 against the Cowboys and 20-0 against the Chiefs. Early deficits aren’t a formula for winning football.
• The running game was a non-factor. This team desperately needs Leonard Fournette back and for newly acquired Carlos Hyde (inactive for Sunday’s game) to make a contribution. The Jaguars ran for 70 yards on 22 carries during the game (30 of them by Bortles).
• After the Jaguars scored a touchdown late in the third quarter, we never got the impression that the Jaguars played with any sense of urgency or pace to put more points up. They didn’t concede defeat, obviously, but they didn’t do anything with their small momentum change.