GameDay Preview | HoustonProFootball.com
Jacksonville Jaguars 2002 Record: (3-3)
10.27.02 | 3:15pm
October 24, 2002
Texans Skid Into Jacksonville
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans continue their quest for their second win this Sunday when they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars at Alltel Stadium. The Texans have lost five in a row after defeating the Cowboys in week one, but have lead in each of their last two games in the third quarter. The Jaguars have lost their last two (both on the road) to drop to 3-3. This week against the Texans, the Jaguars look to extend their home win streak to three games and, more importantly, keep pace with the first place Colts, who play at Washington.
The Jaguars have 24 new players on their roster and 10 new starters this season after a disappointing 6-10 record last year. Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith and Fred Taylor continue to lead the Jags’ offense (ranked 16th in the NFL) but they have had scoring troubles of late. The Jags have scored a total of 24 points in their last two games after scoring 23 plus in each of their first four games. The Jags were inside the Ravens’ 31-yard line seven times last week, scoring on only two of the possessions. Part of the blame lies with their kicker (former kicker as of Tuesday), Hayden Epstein, who was 0-4 from 39+ yards this season. Former Cowboy, Tim Seder, was signed on Wednesday to take over the kicking duties.
The Jaguars defense is ranked 20th in the league and is considered weak up front. Defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson are filling the void left by Seth Payne and Gary Walker. Stroud and Henderson are getting manhandled upfront, so the Texans may have a chance this week to run up the middle.
The Texans come into this week looking for their first road win in franchise history. With a defense ranked in the top ten and David Carr and the rest of the offense showing signs of life, the Texans could keep this one close. But the Texans are still committing too many ill-timed penalties and, now, they have to be somewhat worried about their special teams. Against the Browns, Jermaine Lewis handed the Browns a touchdown when he fumbled a punt at the Texans’ 13-yard line. Later, when the Texans took their first lead, Andre Davis returned a kickoff 95 yards to give the Browns the lead for good. Even so, each of the last two games have been within the Texans grasp giving the fans hope.
When the Texans have the ball…
The Jaguars are weak against the run; allowing three straight 100-yard rushers, so the Texans will probably test the middle of their line early. The running game will depend on the health of Ryan Young, who left last week’s game as a precaution but is expected to start. If the running game gets going, Carr could have his fourth productive game in a row. Helping Carr’s cause is the play of WR’s Corey Bradford and Jabar Gaffney, who have come up with big catches on third down. The Jags pass rush is averaging two sacks per game, but All-Pro Tony Brackens has been lost for the year. Chester Pitts has to do a better job protecting Carr’s backside; expect the blitz to come from his side.
When the Jaguars have the ball…
RB Fred Taylor has been the most productive offensive player for the Jags this year. He is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has 24 catches in 6 games. WR Jimmy Smith is disgruntled that his number isn’t being called enough, but he still leads the team with 29 receptions for 400 yards. Since the departure of Keenan McCardell in the off-season, Smith is drawing constant double teams without a legitimate #2 receiver to lighten the load (TE Kyle Brady has not been a factor). QB Mark Brunell’s numbers are off this year as a result; he has just 5 TD passes in the five plus games he has played. If the Texans hold court and double Smith, Fred Taylor will be relied upon to carry the load. Last week against the Ravens he piled up 151 yards on 25 carries.
Contain Fred Taylor
Taylor ran at will last week, and for the season, he is averaging right at 100 yards per game. He is also a threat through the air, with 241 receiving yards. The Texans will need to shadow Taylor at all times with Jamie Sharper, who, if he can’t stop him, needs to go Cobra Kai on Taylor’s hamstring. If the Texans defense can slow Taylor down, this game is winnable.
Win the 3rd down battle
The Jaguars allow their opponents a nearly 50% success rate on 3rd down; on the other hand, the Texans are dead last in 3rd down efficiency. Last week, the Texans converted 8 of 18 third down plays, their best production of the season, which gives them hope to control the ball this week. The key will be holding the Jaguars on 3rd down. The Texans defense has committed too many penalties allowing opponents to continue drives that would have otherwise ended.
Until last week, this was a positive in the Texans’ repertoire. Jermaine Lewis single-handedly changed that last week. The Texans can’t afford for the special teams to turn the ball over or allow a kick return for a touchdown or miss any field goals. The offense has trouble enough scoring points as it is. Field position will be important, especially on the road against a team like the Jaguars. A shorter field will ease the pressure on the offense. Jimmy Smith vs. Aaron Glenn & Marcus Coleman
The Jaguars offense can be rendered one dimensional if Glenn and Coleman can limit the effectiveness of Smith. Matt Stevens will be providing the help on the double team, so needless to say, Glenn and Coleman better show up to play. All of the load will fall on Fred Taylor’s shoulders if Smith is shut down. The second leading WR on the roster is Patrick Johnson with nine catches.
Fred Taylor vs. Jamie Sharper
The Texans’ leading tackler will be looking for the Jaguars’ leading rusher come Sunday. The Texans defense has cracked the top ten in total defense and Sharper is a big reason for their success. If Walker, Payne & Jerry DeLoach can wreak havoc up front, Sharper will have the opportunity to make Taylor work for every yard.
Dom Capers vs. Tom Coughlin
In 1995, both of these men began the season as the head coach of an expansion team. Both men took their teams to their respective championship games in just their second season in existence. Capers now returns as the head coach of a new expansion team after being fired by the Panthers after the 1998 season and working under Coughlin in 1999 and 2000. Coughlin has more than proved himself after seven seasons as the head man in Jacksonville, Capers on the other hand has more to prove. The two coaches, while friends, would like nothing more than to beat one another. HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Jags say thanks for taking Tony Boselli by sacking David Carr eight times. Jags 21, Texans 17
Dave: A healthy Taylor and Brunell are too much for the Texans. Jags 21, Texans 14
Jimmy: Texans keep it close, but come up short on the road once again. Jags 23, Texans 17
Keith: Payback for that Oilers loss to the expansion Jags would be sweet for a first-ever Texans road win, but alas, no dice. Jags 24, Texans 20
Ric: Call me crazy, but I sense Houston’s due. Texans 21, Jags 17
Warren: The Texans continue to make progress, but not enough to put away the Jags. Jags 27, Texans 21
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 4-2; Dave 3-3; Jimmy 4-2; Keith 6-0;
Ric 4-2; Warren 3-3
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 157 78 1004 6/6 TEAM 159 80 1048 8/6 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 70 257 3.7 0 TEAM 164 629 3.8 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 20 428 21.4 5 TEAM 80 1048 13.1 8 JAGS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Brunell 162 97 1180 5/4 TEAM 169 101 1233 5/6 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Taylor 130 597 4.6 4 TEAM 184 844 4.6 10 REC NO YDS AVG TD Smith 29 400 13.8 1 TEAM 101 1233 12.2 5 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review