Jags wrap up season in Houston


HOUSTON – It'll take one solid coaching job to have the Jaguars ready to play the Houston Texans this afternoon in Houston. From landing in a far away and nearly desolate Air Force Base in Houston to the dreary weather that's bee hovering over the city for the weekend, the Jaguars will need to keep their heads down and play one of their better games to beat the Texans.

"It's about our culture," Head Coach Gus Bradley said earlier in the week. While Bradley is trying to build a winning, self-motivated culture in the Jaguars locker room, it'll be a pretty good test for his team to see how they perform against Houston.

For the final game of the year, the Jaguars are only playing to win their 4th game. Houston on the other hand, has an outside shot at the playoffs and a win would leave the 2014 season as a winner at 9-7.

"We've had a good week, a different week with Christmas and all, but a good week of practice and we've talked about finishing as a team," Josh Evans said at the team hotel last night. Evans is one of the players the Jaguars will evaluate in this game to see if he's part of their future. In fact, the team will be looking at just about every position, except quarterback, to see which players could be part of what the Jaguars hope is a solution to their many problems.

They've identified what some of the problems are and they're pretty evident. On offense the Jaguars will look to add players at running back, tight end, offensive line and wide receiver. On defense, they'll need somebody else on the defensive line, a linebacker and safety, both strong and weak are question marks. They have more money to spend than any other team for free agency in the off-season, but the question is, who's out there?

And then there's the conundrum of winning or losing today and what that does to the draft. By beating Houston, the Jaguars most likely will finish third in the AFC South, meaning Baltimore and Kansas City could be on the schedule next year instead of Oakland and Cleveland if the Jaguars had finished 4th. A win today could drop the Jaguars to the 6th spot in the draft, a place they could get a solid, if unspectacular player. A loss on the other hand, leaves them at 3rd, with the possibility of Leonard Williams, the DE from Southern Cal or a trade for other picks if somebody else wants a quarterback because Williams is gone.

All are intriguing possibilities, but today is about a game against the Texans and the continued growth of a young team. While they're still called "rookies" the Jaguars young players are hardly that, having seen good teams and bad at home and on the road all year. They've beaten themselves, and they've been thoroughly thrashed as well.

Bradley and GM Dave Caldwell are at the controls for at least another year but it's an important year for both of them. They've hit and missed on draft picks and free agents but in 2015 they have to hit more than they miss. They might not have to have a winning record, but if we're having this same discussion on the last weekend of next year, they'll all be planning to leave on the same day.