In a battle between two two-win teams, the only losers were the viewers. The Texans outpaced the Urban Meyer-less Jaguars 30-16 through the rain on Sunday, picking up their eighth straight win in the series.
Always the top story in Jacksonville, Trevor Lawrence had a forgettable day. It's hard to blame the first overall pick for his struggles. Urban Meyer's departure didn't magically turn the Jaguars' receivers into studs. Between their lack of downfield separation and the heavy rainfall, Trevor never found his rhythm. He threw five inaccurate passes, two of which had no chance of being completed due to tight coverage. His receivers dropped five balls in the second half, too. He still made some big-time throws in this one and looked good on the run. The Texans' defense was ripe for the taking, but Trevor and his receivers couldn't get the job done.
The 33rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft continues to impress down the stretch. Thrust into the starting lineup from day one, Campbell has shown significant improvement throughout the year and may have had his best performance to date. He picked up his second interception of the season. Campbell dropped into zone coverage and read the quarterback's eyes the entire way and then exploded towards the ball, setting the Jaguars' offense up with tremendous field position. He broke up two more passes, one of which could have been intercepted as he locked up Brandin Cooks deep down the field. Campbell also played well in run support and in pursuit. He's making a strong case for being the Jaguars' number one outside cornerback in 2022.
The Jaguars number one cornerback has a horrific outing against the Texans. He surrendered a perfect passer rating on the day. He got beat by Brandin Cooks on the first score of the game. Griffin was peaking in the backfield and that's all it took for Cooks to cook him for the touchdown. Griffin also got burned by Phillip Dorsett on a third and long, giving up 33 yards. And on the final drive of the first half, the Texans were trying to get into field goal range and Griffin was matched up with former Jaguar Chris Conley on the outside. Conley jabbed toward the sideline and then exploded towards the middle of the field on a slant, easily picking up the necessary yardage. Griffin needs to show much more than this over the final three contests.
The Jaguars' special teams were supposed to be a strength entering the season, but they've been far too inconsistent. Logan Cooke struggled on kickoffs, and the coverage units did a poor job limiting returns. The Texans returned their first kickoff for a touchdown since 2009 and had a few more big returns on the day. Surrendering a return TD is an easy way to get behind the eight-ball. Logan Cooke, the punter, had a strong game, and Matthew Wright made each of his field-goal attempts, but as a whole, special teams let the Jaguars down in a big way. An illegal hands to the face on a punt return play extended the Texans' first drive, allowing them to keep the ball and eventually score. Back breaking.
Offensive Game Plan
The Jaguars' offensive game plan looked more cohesive than it has in a long time. There were some play-calls and looks that actually built off each other. A heavy dose of James Robinson was the smart play, and he finished with 21 touches despite a negative game script at times. Of course, it's challenging to be impressed with a performance that netted just 16 points against one of the worst defenses in football. Still, outside of a couple of questionable situational play calls, the problems for the Jaguars' offense were all about execution, not the game plan.
The Number One Pick
After losing to the Texans, the Jaguars are now in position to pick first overall yet again. Going into the day, the Lions held the top pick, but they took down the Cardinals, and with two wins and a tie, they have a better record than the Jags. This isn't a spot many expected the Jaguars to be in, but if the draft was today, they'd be up first. They also hold the top pick in the second round. I dropped my Top 25 Big Board last week, and that should provide a good baseline level of understanding for some of the prospects the Jaguars might land early in the draft.
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