It is now Week 3 of the NFL season and the Jaguars are looking to get back on track after a disappointing 17-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Jaguars have a chance to bounce back this Sunday as the Houston Texans come to town for an AFC South divisional matchup.
The Texans are looking to get in the win column for the first time this season. They lost last week to the Indianapolis Colts 31-20, and they fell 25-9 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1.
These two teams know each other pretty well.
Historically, the Texans have had the Jaguars number. They lead the all-time rivalry 28-14. The Texans have also won three out of the four matchups with Trevor Lawrence.
Last season, Jaguars and Texans played in two very different games. In Week 5, the Texans came to Jacksonville and won 13-6. And in Week 16, the Jaguars had a dominant win in Houston (31-3).
The Jaguars are looking to tun the rivalry around and redeem themselves after a disappointing showing where they were unable to score a single touchdown.
This matchup has some similarities to the Week 1 game against Indianapolis. It’s a divisional opponent that the Jaguars are very familiar with, and Texans have a new first-year head coach as well as a rookie quarterback.
Back in January, the Texans announced that they were hiring 38-year-old DeMeco Ryans as their head coach. Ryans spent the last six seasons on the 49ers coaching staff and was their defensive coordinator for the last two years.
Ryans is no stranger to the Texans organization.
Houston drafted him out of Alabama in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft. Ryans spent six seasons with the Texans, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year making two Pro Bowls before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012.
Then, in this year’s draft the Texans used their No. 2 overall pick to draft Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. The Texans hope Stroud can be the team’s franchise quarterback for many years to come.
Even though the Texans are winless through the first two weeks of the season, Stroud has put together fairly impressive back-to-back performances in the losses.
In Week 1, he was 28 of 44 passing for 242 yards. He followed that up with an even better performance last week, completing 63.8% of his passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns.
Stroud is definitely not happy losing his first two NFL starts as the Texans quarterback, but he remains optimistic for their future.
“I’m excited,” Stroud said. “Once we play together as a team, watch out. I definitely think this team is ready to win, and we’ve just got to put it together — offense, defense, special teams coming together as one. I’m excited.”
Ryans also had good things to say about Stroud following the loss to the Colts.
“C.J. is a competitor, and he shows that,” he said. “He continues to fight no matter what odds are stacked up against him, no matter who’s in front of him. It doesn’t matter. He has a winning mindset. Now, we need everybody around him to continue to have that winning mindset and go play winning football, and that’s when things will get better for us.”
Stroud also played through the pain of a shoulder injury that he suffered earlier in the week, but the Texans are confident his shoulder will not be an issue moving forward.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,’ Stroud said. “I think there’s hope. I think we showed … that we’re going to fight, and we’re not just going to turn around and lay down just because the score flips early. We’re going to keep fighting till the end.”
He is going to have to continue to play well if the Texans want to win against the Jaguars and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“Jacksonville is a great place to play as I have been told. It’s loud and we got to be on our A-game in the huddle, out the huddle, getting to the ball, getting set,” Stroud said. “I got to be right with everything I have to do on my table and get guys ready to win.”
Stroud believes the team has taken steps towards winning in the past two games and that it’s time to put everything together.
The Texans have allowed the most sacks in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season. Stroud has taken 11 sacks and been hit 19 times.
The Jaguars only sacked Patrick Mahomes once last week so they hope this trend continues and they are able to get pressure on the rookie quarterback.
On Thursday, Ryans talked about the offensive struggles and what the team needs to do to get better.
“It’s all about the protection, we have had good protection at times and it is not only just our offensive line, it’s the backs, it’s the tight ends, it’s the quarterback, it’s the receivers. Protection involves all 11,” he said. “We just have to make smart decisions with the football, we have to block the guys in front of us, make sure we are giving our quarterback time in the pocket.”
One thing that will help the Texans offense is the return of Pro Bowl left offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a Columbia High School product from Lake City.
Tunsil returned to practice on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s loss to the Colts with a knee Injury.
The Jacksonville defense is coming off another impressive performance this past week, holding Mahomes and the high octane Chiefs offense to just 17 points in the loss.
The Texans also used the draft to try and help improve the offense.
Right after they drafted Stroud, Houston traded up nine spots to draft pass-rusher Will Anderson out of Alabama with the No. 3 overall pick.
However, through the first two games of the season, the Texans players and coaches know there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
The Texans defense allowed the Colts to score four red zone touchdowns and convert six of their first eight third-down situations.
They also didn’t record a single sack throughout the game.
Anderson was voted by the team as a captain before the start of the season and Ryans likes the leadership he has shown throughout the first two games.
“Will, another guy who’s a young guy, who’s a leader, just like C.J.,” Ryans said. “They bring good energy, great energy to our team. They have contagious energy, and everybody else needs to pick it up around those guys.”
The Texans were also without several starting defenders in the matchup against the Colts, including safeties Jalen Pitre and Jimmie Ward.
Houston also lost safety Eric Murray to a concussion and as of Thursday he is still remains under the concussion protocol.
There’s a real possibility on Sunday that the Texans will be without Pitre, Murray, and Thomas.
Ward was able to practice on Wednesday for the first time since the preseason after injuring his hip and missing the first 2 games of the season.
On Thursday, Ryans indicated that Ward will play safety on Sunday against Jacksonville and Grayland Arnold will play nickel.
Ryans knows what the team needs to do against the Jaguars to get its first victory.
His message to the entire team remains consistent, start faster and finish stronger, adding that it is all about execution.
“No matter what play call it is, no where you are on the field, it will always come down to execution, guys being on the details of their job, doing what they’re supposed to do, being where they’re supposed to be,” Ryans said. “And doing it as physical and as fast as possible.”