AFC South: Lance Briggs

Reading the coverage of the Jacksonville Jaguars ...

We linked Wednesday to David Fleming’s piece from ESPN The Magazine about the Jaguars' analytics department. In that piece, the Jaguars shared three numbers they used to make the case that Blaine Gabbert deserved another opportunity to be the team’s quarterback. Here, however, John Parolin and Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Info deconstruct those three points and tell us why they aren’t as significant as the team may think.

Playing with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs opened the eyes of linebacker Geno Hayes, who now stands to start for the Jaguars.

Allen Reisner started camp just wanting to make his coaches know his name. They know it now, and Vito Stellino of the Times-Union says Reisner is in no danger of being cut.

“There are plenty of ‘winnable’ games and, given Jacksonville’s baseline for improvement (two victories), the chances for finishing 2013 with a greater sense of accomplishment are high. Doubling last season’s win total is a fair expectation,” says Chris Johnson of Sports Illustrated.

Rapid Reaction: Texans 13, Bears 6

November, 11, 2012

CHICAGO -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 13-6 win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field:

What it means: The Texans won on the road against a top NFC team in bad weather to boost their record to 8-1 and should get even more attention as a potential Super Bowl team after this effort in Chicago.

What I liked: After all the talk about the Bears’ propensity for creating turnovers, it was the Texans who proved to have more of the playmaking defense with four takeaways -- two fumbles and two picks of Chicago’s Jay Cutler. Running back Arian Foster did yeoman’s work, with 29 carries for 102 yards. He also scored the game’s lone touchdown with a pretty diving catch of a 2-yard pass from Matt Schaub with linebacker Lance Briggs covering him well. While Brandon Marshall made a big 45-yard catch, there were hardly any instances when you felt like a run or short pass by Chicago had a chance to turn into something significant and damaging.

Other good things: While a potential big return by Keshawn Martin was washed away by a holding penalty, and Donnie Jones wasn’t crushing his punts, the Texans' special teams had a reasonably good night. Coverage teams contained Devin Hester, making several one-on-one tackles. And while Chicago’s Robbie Gould missed a 48-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have made it 10-9 Texans, Houston’s Shayne Graham hit his attempts from 20 and 42 yards.

What I didn’t like: On a rainy, windy night, Schaub and the Texans couldn’t find much through the air. A deep, bootleg pass for Andre Johnson on their first series went off his fingertips. Kevin Walter's 23-yard reception in the third quarter was the long pass of the day for Houston.

What I want to know: How much linebacker Tim Dobbins is going to get fined for the hit above the shoulders to Cutler that left the Bears quarterback with a concussion that kept him out of the second half.

What’s next: The Texans host Jacksonville at Reliant Stadium in an AFC South matchup. Houston won the first matchup at EverBank Field on Sept. 16, 27-7.

Wrap-up: Bears 41, Jaguars 3

October, 7, 2012
Thoughts on the Jaguars' 41-3 loss to Chicago at EverBank Field:

What it means: The Jaguars actually looked good for a half as they were part of a defensive, 3-3 struggle. It didn’t take long after that, however, for the opportunistic Bears to bury the Jaguars and make them look ever bit a 1-4 team with talent that simply doesn’t match up to quality teams around the league.

What went wrong: With the Bears up 5-3, Blaine Gabbert threw a terrible pass that never had a chance to get to Justin Blackmon. Charles Tillman easily picked it and took it back for a 36-yard touchdown broke the game open and the Jaguars never recovered while Chicago poured it on. Gabbert threw a ball that was tipped and returned by linebacker Lance Briggs for another 36-yard score and lost a fumble. The second-year quarterback wound up with a 37.7 passer rating. The defense allowed the Bears to convert 61 percent on third and fourth downs.

No enough time for enough chances: It doesn’t matter how good Maurice Jones-Drew is if you’re only going to be able to get him 12 touches in the run game on a Sunday afternoon. He carried a dozen times for 56 yards. The Bears average a full three yards more per carry than the Jaguars did and Chicago held the ball for 36 minutes.

Have to have more early: The Jaguars didn’t score in the first quarter and have have a grand total of six first-quarter points though five games this year. That’s a terrible mark for a team that needs to play from ahead to have a chance to utilize its best player in the best fashion.

One good thing: Receiver Cecil Shorts made the most athletic, playmaker-like catch by the Jaguars I can remember in some time by Jacksonville, a great one-handed stretch and fall.

What’s next: The Jaguars have arrived at their week off. I don’t know what drastic changes are available to them, but it’s sure hard to sell patience and staying the course considering where that’s gotten them.