Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans entered this game at 1-6 through eight weeks of the 2020 NFL season. For Jacksonville, that was to be expected as one of the preseason favorites in the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.
The fact that Houston’s only win of the season came against this Jaguars team back in Week 5 was a surprise, though. The Texans were finally able to notch their second win of the season here in Week 9 against the same opponent that handed them their first of the year.
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STORY OF THE GAME
These were the two worst defenses in the NFL by EPA per play coming into the week. The glaring difference heading into this game is that one offense had Deshaun Watson at the helm. The other saw sixth-round rookie quarterback Jake Luton make his first career NFL start. We didn’t see a massive gap play between the two here, however.
It’s been somewhat lost in the poor start to the season for Houston, but Watson has played like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His 86.3 PFF grade coming into the week ranked fifth among 32 qualifying quarterbacks.
This performance against Jacksonville isn’t going to be one of Watson’s best of the season from a grading standpoint, but the results were strong thanks in part to contributions from his playmakers and the futile efforts of the Jaguars defensively. Two long touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller with a combined 111 yards after the catch will go a long way to padding the stat sheet. Over 70% of Watson’s passing yards in the game came after the catch — the highest single-game mark in his career.
Luton made several mistakes with two turnovers — an interception and a fumble — in the second half, but it wasn’t all bad for the Oregon State product. He started things off with a bang and a 73-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Chark on a pretty deep ball, and Luton nearly led the Jaguars all the way back with a late touchdown drive capped off by his first career touchdown run.
That comeback fell just short as Luton put the two-point conversion attempt behind his receiver on a pass to the sideline. That pass sealed the win for Houston and brought the Jaguars one step closer to an early 2021 draft pick, where it seems likely they’ll target their quarterback of the future.
Luton wasn’t the only rookie to play a significant role for the Jaguars. James Robinson continued to serve as the clear lead back with 49 offensive snaps, but the Jaguars weren’t able to create a lot of push in the running game. Sixty-eight of Robinson’s 99 rushing yards came after contact, and it took him 25 attempts to reach those totals. Laviska Shenault Jr. — the other major rookie contributor on offense for Jacksonville — left early with a hamstring injury after just one reception.
Defensively, Davon Hamilton was a standout on the interior for Jacksonville. You typically think of run defense with Hamilton, but he was able to get some pressure on Watson in the game, with a few additional pass-rushing wins that didn’t lead to pressure. That makes two straight impressive games for Hamilton now after a strong showing before the bye against the Los Angeles Chargers.
C.J. Henderson’s day was marred by a lengthy touchdown given up to Will Fuller, and he gave up just under 100 passing yards total into his coverage on initial count. Henderson was active at the catch point in Week 1 with four combined pass breakups and interceptions, but he has just two pass breakups since with one of those coming in this game.
The only two Texans’ rookies to see significant action were Jonathan Greenard and Ross Blacklock. Each was awarded one quarterback pressure pending review, but neither made a big impact on the game. It continues to be a disappointing performance from the 2020 rookie class for Houston.
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