JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars began the 2017 season in Houston with a 29-7 win over the Texans, Before the game, we asked four big questions. Here's how the Jaguars answered them Sunday.
1. Is Leonard Fournette ready to be an offense-defining player?
In his NFL debut, Fournette ran 26 times for 100 yards and a touchdown. Maybe the question should be whether the Jaguars offensive coaches are willing to let Fournette be the defining player. Twice near the goal line, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hacket used Fournette as a decoy: once on a handoff to fullback Tommy Bohanon that got stuffed and another on a touchdown pass to Bohanon. At it's core, the touchdown pass on first down to Bohanon is not a major problem, but the is that if you are trying to establish that you are a physical, tough team, you don't try to fool the opposition. Just give it to Fournette and let him do his thing.
2. Can the Jaguars handle the Houston defensive front?
Yes, they can, and they did. In his NFL debut, Cam Robinson and company kept J.J. Watt from being a factor. In fact, Houston didn't have a single sack. They didn't overpower Houston, but they did enough. While the Jaguars offense totaled only 280 yards, but they didn't put the quarterback in jeopardy.
3. Does Blake Bortles have something more than he showed in the preseason?
The best thing that Bortles did Sunday was to avoid turnovers. While he finished 11 of 21 for 125 yards and a touchdown, he didn't give Houston any fuel to get the crowd into the game. The scoreboard could have looked much more impressive if Jason Myers hadn't missed a filed goal and an extra point, and if Tashaun Gipson had returned his interception for a touchdown, instead of getting tackled by Houston quarterback DeShaun Watson. However, if we're going to hold Bortles accountable for the losing record, he has to get credit for the win.
4. Will the defense rise to the occasion?
A resounding yes. The Jaguars set a franchise record with 10 sacks of Houston quarterbacks. Calais Campbell set a Jaguars single-game record with 4 sacks and Houston managed only 203 yards of total offense. The Texans also were forced to change quarterbacks at halftime when head coach Bill O'Brien pulled Tom Savage and inserted Watson. The one matchup that didn't favor the Jaguars was DeAndre Hopkins vs. A.J. Bouye. Hopkins, who is one of the best receivers in the NFL drew three pass interference calls against Bouye. other than that, the Jaguars defense dominated.
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