Richard Miller: A Very Big Win for the Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) defeated the Houston “Battle Red” Texans (1-2) 31-24 in front of a sellout crowd (although there were empty seats) at Reliant Stadium.
Led by Maurice “Superman” Jones-Drew, Jacksonville moved the chains 24 times for first downs. Out of the Jaguars’ five scoring drives, no drive lasted longer than six minutes. The offense was as efficient as could be. With Superman finding the end zone three times, head coach Jack Del Rio’s smile stretched nearly as wide as every Jaguar fans’ on Sunday. Jacksonville is 1-1 in the AFC South heading into next week’s home matchup versus the Tennessee Titans.
The first win is under the belt. Starting Monday, consistency will be the talk. Was I a football coach in another life?
Now, on to the Awards…
Best Play of the Game: To start the fourth quarter, head coach Jack Del Rio’s bold call on fourth down to go for it. He could have settled for a field goal to make it 27-24, but he did not. Maurice Jones-Drew converted the fourth down with a four-yard run. It was quickly followed by an 8-yard Jones-Drew touchdown dash. Credit Del Rio for a play call that summed up the entire game: POOR DEFENSE.
Best Director (goes to Jaguar coach or coordinator): Dirk Koetter, Offensive Coordinator – He must have learned a thing or two after seeing the Colts and Cardinals do whatever they pleased against the Jaguars. Koetter’s offense generated 398 yards and converted three scores in the red zone. Earlier this week Koetter talked about explosion plays (pass plays of 16 or more yards, runs of 12 yards or more). Well, Jacksonville had eight explosion plays (five passes, three runs), if my math is correct. Koetter has to be proud. It’s the best the offense has looked since the preseason.
Best Jaguar in a Leading Role: Maurice Jones-Drew, starting running back – He ran the ball 23 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns. Jones-Drew added four receptions for 28 yards. His 61-yard burst emotionally fired up the whole team on the sidelines. I saw a smile on Jack Del Rio’s face that I haven’t seen in awhile. Del Rio knows the potential of this ball club. Although, you have to understand that the Texans’ rush defense is the worst in the league. But, Jones-Drew needs multiple games similar to this one.
Best Jaguar in a Supporting Role: David Garrard, starting quarterback – He looked very impressive at times. The best games Garrard will have are ones where he doesn’t have to win them on his own. Garrard was 18/30 for 214 yards. His passes were occasionally high, but he rocketed the ball to nearly all of his targets. I was truly pleased by Garrard’s performance, especially since he was hit eight times and had five balls deflected at the line. He also had a nice two-yard touchdown run.
Jaguar who will receive the most heat: Mike Sims-Walker, starting wide receiver – Even though No. 11 caught six balls for 81 yards, he’ll be torn a new one for fumbling the ball in the fourth quarter at the 50 yard line. However, cornerback Dunta Robinson made a quality strip of the ball. Sometimes a player can’t protect the ball any better. Sims-Walker should be hailed for his promise, not for the fumble. I know that won’t be the case this week. Plus, it’s so strange seeing a Jaguar wearing No. 11 making plays with the ball. (Last year it was Reggie Williams. He’s currently not on an NFL roster.)
Best Texan in a Leading Role: Matt Schaub, starting quarterback – We saw firsthand what Schaub can do when healthy. He can be a top-ten quarterback, but he’s on a .500 ball club at best. Schaub’s stat line is worth noting: 26/35, 300 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 116.4 passer rating. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his production slip throughout the year. It seemed as though Schaub’s frustration was getting to him when his teammates struggled. It happens to the best.
Best Texan in a Supporting Role: Kevin Walter, starting wide receiver – What is the purpose of injury reports? Walter was listed as questionable (limited participation during practice) with a hamstring. And, out of the blue, he has seven receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown catch. I’ll never understand it. But, the 28-year old Walter sure loves playing the Jaguars. His coming-out party was in 2007 against Jacksonville when he had 12 catches for 160 yards. Sadly, it wasn’t a “Battle Red Day.” It was played in Jacksonville.
Best Sound Editing: “I don’t really care to understand the fans’ frustration or elation, whichever it is.” – Head coach Jack Del Rio on Thursday’s Lamm at Large radio show. In my opinion, no malice was meant by his statement. It is funny though when a coach slips up once, and everyone jumps on it. I’m glad Del Rio doesn’t care about fans’ emotions. He has a football team to coach.
Best Animated Short (goes to the player with the most passion on the field): Maurice Jones-Drew – He is the heart and soul of this team. Jones-Drew plays with a passion that rubs off on everyone. I think it’s because you can see he loves his job. Not many people have the luxury of loving what they do.
Tweet of the Week (Twitter post): “I wonder who is up this time of morning on a Sunday besides me??? Can’t sleep!! I hate these hotel beds.” – Outside linebacker Quentin Groves on Sunday, September 27. Groves posted the thread at 8 a.m. His uncomfortable bed might be the reason he limped off the field twice on Sunday.
Eight Jaguar inactives:
Offensive tackle Jordan Black
Offensive guard Kynan Forney
Safety Courtney Greene
Linebacker Brian Iwuh
Cornerback William Middleton
Defensive end Jeremy Navarre
Linebacker Adam Seward (groin)
Cornerback Brian Witherspoon (hamstring)
Other Jaguar notes:
Rookie wide receivers Jarett Dillard, Mike Thomas and Tiquan Underwood made their NFL debuts.
Thomas had the best day of the three. He touched the ball three times on offense for 45 yards. Thomas also fielded two kickoffs. With Witherspoon out, Thomas will get the start as the punt returner.
Underwood returned two kickoffs as well. He did muff the second one. It was a mistake that was bound to happen. Underwood will still have a roster spot.
Reliant Stadium was sold out for the 74th consecutive time for a Texans’ game.
Steve Beuerlein was the color commentator during the CBS broadcast. Beuerlein, 44, was the first starting quarterback in Jaguars’ history.
Cornerback Rashean Mathis was assigned to Andre Johnson. Johnson was somewhat-contained with 86 yards on four catches. Mathis had one interception on a poorly-thrown jump ball by Schaub.
Safety Sean Considine left the game with a groin strain.
In the second quarter, right tackle Eben Britton hobbled off the field with a knee sprain.
Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton was helped off the field in the second quarter. His ankle appeared to get rolled on by a Texan. He was immediately taken to the locker room. The play eerily reminded me of the injury to Reggie Hayward against the Colts. Knighton returned in the third quarter.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis had one drop. He only caught one ball for 18 yards.
Kicker Josh Scobee made a 52-yard field goal in the first quarter. It was one yard shy of the Jaguars’ team record. Scobee converted all four of the extra points.
Jacksonville’s defense allowed 111 yards on the ground to a horrible running team. The defense still needs better push up front. It’s nothing new!