Jacksonville Jaguars: Andre Johnson

The Jacksonville Jaguars should take a familiar quarterback on Day 3 of the upcoming NFL draft, writes SI.com's Doug Farrar.

Farrar's choice for a sleeper pick for the Jaguars in Round 3 or later is former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He says Murray has command of the "little things" and he could develop into a valuable spot starter. Murray's height (6-foot-1) isn't as much of an issue as it would have been several years ago, either.

Murray is the first quarterback in SEC history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in four consecutive seasons, and he also owns SEC records for touchdown passes (121) and total offense (13,562), among others.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette says goodbye to Maurice Jones-Drew with a nice tribute column in which he lauds Jones-Drew's work on and off the field.

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars keep adding pass-rushers with no end in sight.

Here is ESPN Raiders reporter Paul Guiterrez's take on how Jones-Drew fits with Oakland.

Here is the weekly Jaguars mailbag.

Texans receiver Andre Johnson thinks the team should trade the No. 1 overall pick but Jerry Rice says it's a "no-brainer" for the team to take Johnny Manziel.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars had the least-talented roster in the NFL in 2013.

Based on what head coach Gus Bradley was able to do in the second half of the season and the success of general manager David Caldwell's first draft, there is a lot of optimism that the Jaguars will make progress in 2014. It won't be a turnaround similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs made from 2012 to 2013, but the Jaguars should be significantly better next season.

They aren't the only team in that situation, though. During the NFL Nation season wrap-ups, eight bloggers among the 20 who cover non-playoff teams said the teams they cover are trending up heading into the offseason: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Jacksonville, Houston, Tennessee, St. Louis and the New York Jets.

Some, like the Cardinals and Steelers, were close to making the playoffs in 2013. Others, such as the Texans, Jaguars and Rams, didn't even come close. But all of those teams should take steps forward in 2014.

The eight bloggers got together, thanks to Bills reporter Mike Rodak, and ranked those eight teams based on their chances of making the playoffs next season. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars finished last. Yes, behind a Texans team that is riding a 14-game losing streak.

Houston had the league's worst record in 2013, but the Texans do have some talent on the roster -- led by J.J. Watt, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson -- and need only a piece or two to become a playoff team again. Quarterback is the top priority, of course, but a change in leadership from Gary Kubiak to Bill O'Brien also could provide the boost the Texans need to make them a factor in the AFC South again.

The Jaguars went 4-4 in the second half of the season (two victories came against Houston) but they have so many needs and holes to fill that it'll be another season before they can realistically make a playoff run. Caldwell and Bradley have to find a quarterback, a pass-rusher, a running back and outside linebackers. They have to beef up the interior of the offensive line and add quality depth at defensive tackle.

It wouldn't hurt to add a big, physical receiver to the roster, either.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars might be better off taking a pass-rusher instead of a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Looking back at the last 20 players selected third overall reveals teams had much better success in drafting offensive and defensive linemen and wide receivers than quarterbacks. Twelve linemen and receivers were drafted since 1994 and eight went on to have above average or very good careers. In fact, six of those eight could be considered among the best players at their position at some point in their careers.

Only three players -- receiver Braylon Edwards, defensive end Andre Wadsworth, and defensive end Tyson Jackson -- could be considered busts. One other player, Miami defensive end Dion Jordan, just finished his rookie season.

But the ratio is much worse when it comes to quarterbacks. Four of the six quarterbacks drafted No. 3 overall in the last 20 years were busts: Vince Young, Joey Harrington, Akili Smith, and Heath Shuler. Only Matt Ryan and Steve McNair proved to be worthy of their high selection.

Does that mean Jaguars general manager David Caldwell should not take Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles with the No. 3 overall pick? Not necessarily. Smith’s flameout has nothing to do with whether Manziel will make it in the NFL. But it’s certainly interesting to go back and see how the players selected third overall have turned out and the trend is that taking an offensive or defensive lineman is a much safer bet than picking a quarterback.

Here’s a look at the breakdown of the last 20 players selected third overall:

Quarterbacks (6)

Matt Ryan (Atlanta, 2008): Ryan has completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 23,472 yards and has a nearly 2:1 touchdown-interception ratio: 153 touchdown passes, 77 interceptions. He was the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 and has led the Falcons to the playoffs in four of his six seasons. He is 60-34 as a starter.

Vince Young (Tennessee, 2006): Young was one of the most dynamic college players, but his game never quite translated to the NFL. He was named the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 after he threw for 2,199 yards and 12 touchdowns with 13 interceptions and ran for 552 yards and seven TDs. But he threw nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in 2007 and started just 22 games over the next four seasons with Tennessee and Philadelphia.

Joey Harrington (Detroit, 2002): Harrington played for three teams in his six seasons and only had one season in which he threw more touchdown passes than interceptions.

Akili Smith (Cincinnati, 1999): He started just 17 games in four years with the Bengals and three five touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.

Steve McNair (Houston/Tennessee, 1995): His 13-year career included three Pro Bowls and a 91-62 record as a starter. He became the Titans’ starter in his third year and led them to a 12-3 record in 2000. His best season was 2003, when he threw for 3,215 yards and 24 touchdowns with only seven interceptions.

Heath Shuler (Washington, 1994): He went 8-14 in his 22 starts in his four seasons in the NFL, throwing 15 touchdown passes and 33 interceptions.

Running backs (1)

Trent Richardson (Cleveland, 2012): It’s early, but his career is not exactly on par with what you’d expect from a No. 3 overall pick. He has rushed for 1,513 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns in his two seasons. He was traded to Indianapolis after the second game of the 2013 season and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on 157 attempts with the Colts.

Wide receivers (3)

Braylon Edwards (Cleveland, 2005): He had one great year, but otherwise was an average to below-average player. He caught 359 passes for 5,522 yards and 40 TDs, including a career-high 80 catches for 1,289 yards and 16 TDs in 2007.

Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona, 2004): Fitzgerald has made seven Pro Bowls in his 10 seasons and has 846 catches for 11,367 yards and 87 touchdowns.

Andre Johnson (Houston, 2003): He is currently 17th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list (12,661 yards). He has made seven Pro Bowls and is a two-time first-team All-Pro selection.

Offensive tackles (2)

Joe Thomas (Cleveland, 2007): He just finished his seventh season and made his seventh Pro Bowl. That’s right, he has been voted to the Pro Bowl in every season.

Chris Samuels (Washington, 2000): He played 10 seasons in the NFL (all with the Redskins) and made the Pro Bowl six times.

Defensive ends (4)

Dion Jordan (Miami, 2013): He played 20-30 snaps per game throughout most of his rookie season because the Dolphins used him only in obvious passing situations. He needs to work harder to become an every-down player.

Tyson Jackson (Kansas City, 2009): The Chiefs plugged him in as a 3-4 defensive end, which means he wasn’t counted on to provide much impact in the pass rush. He has just nine sacks in five seasons and has never forced nor recovered a fumble. Expectations are a little higher for a No. 3 overall pick.

Andre Wadsworth (Arizona, 1998): After a lengthy holdout he had a solid rookie season (five sacks and 42 tackles) but knee injuries ended his career after just three seasons with the Cardinals.

Simeon Rice (Arizona, 1996): Rice played for four teams in his 12-year career and made the Pro Bowl three times. He recorded double-digit sacks in eight seasons, including a career-high 16.5 in 1999. He was voted the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press after recording 12.5 sacks in 1996. He finished his career with 122 sacks, which currently ranks 15th on the NFL’s all-time list.

Defensive tackles (3)

Marcell Dareus (Buffalo, 2011): He has established himself as one of the NFL’s better interior pass rushers and has 18.5 sacks in three seasons, including 7.5 in 2013.

Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay, 2010): He is coming off his best season as a pro. He set career highs in tackles (35) and sacks (nine) and made his second Pro Bowl and was a first-team All-Pro selection. He has 18 sacks, 90 tackles, and 10 pass breakups in his career.

Gerard Warren (Cleveland, 2001): He never made the Pro Bowl, but was a solid run-stopper who still managed to compile 36.5 sacks in his 11-year career.

Cornerback (1)

Shawn Springs (Seattle, 1997): He intercepted 33 passes and broke up 84 passes in his 13-year career. He picked off seven passes (two for touchdowns) in 1998, which was the only season in which he made the Pro Bowl.

RTC: Jaguars get all-around victory

December, 6, 2013
The Jacksonville Jaguars continued their second-half surge in Thursday night's 27-20 victory over Houston and broke some streaks in the process.

It was the first time since the third game of the 2012 season that running back Maurice Jones-Drew surpassed 100 yards rushing. It was the first time the Jaguars had won at home since Nov. 25, 2012. It also marked the team's first three-game winning streak since the 2010 season.

It was an all-around victory, writes the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran. In addition to Jones-Drew, quarterback Chad Henne contributed with two touchdown passes, receiver Ace Sanders added a touchdown pass of his own on a trick play, and linebacker Geno Hayes made a game-saving interception late in the fourth quarter that led to Josh Scobee's insurance field goal.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

The Jaguars are 4-1 since their bye and have a three-game winning streak. They're making plays at the end of games, too. They're no longer the laughingstock of the NFL.

CBSSports.com's Will Brinson writes that the Jaguars are giving their fans hope for the future.

T-U columnist Gene Frenette gives the coaching staff high marks in his report card. He also writes about how he likes offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's creativity.

O'Halloran reviews how well the Jaguars met the four keys to the game in his Four Downs Analysis.

The Jaguars were unable to corral Texans receiver Andre Johnson as well as they did in the first meeting, the T-U's Hays Carlyon writes.

The T-U's Vito Stellino writes that tight end Marcedes Lewis helped the Jaguars' fast start with a big play early in the game.

There was another victory at EverBank Field on Thursday night. Watch as a serviceman's marriage proposal was accepted.


A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-20 victory over the Houston Texans:

Big night for MoJo: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew surpassed 100 yards for the first time since Week 3 of the 2012 season. He ran for 103 yards despite not playing the final 11 minutes of the game because of a right hamstring strain. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Jones-Drew ran for a 98 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry between the tackles. Jones-Drew, who hurt his hamstring on a 15-yard reception, said his injury was minor and he expects to play in the Jaguars' next game against Buffalo on Dec. 15.

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew, D.J. Swearinger, Darryl Sharpton
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesMaurice Jones-Drew rushed 14 times for 103 yards on Thursday.
More offensive trickery: For the second week in a row, a non-quarterback threw a touchdown pass. This time it was receiver Ace Sanders, who took a lateral from quarterback Chad Henne, rolled to his right, and lofted a pass to running back Jordan Todman for a 21-yard score. While Sanders was talking about the play in the locker room, teammate Cecil Shorts was yelling "Michael Vick" at him from his nearby locker. That was just one instance of ribbing Sanders got from his teammates. "They said, ‘What took you so long to throw it?'" Sanders said. "I said, ‘Hey, we scored.'"

Nimble Henne: Henne actually looked more like Vick than Sanders. OK, that's exaggerating, but Henne did do a nice job of keeping plays alive with his feet and scrambling for positive yardage. He ran four times for a season-high 33 yards, including a 14-yard run. "They played a lot of man coverage and two-man and gave me some lanes up front with the pass rush, so I just took off instead of trying to force the ball downfield when it was covered," said Henne, who completed 12 of 27 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. "I just tried to get as much as I could get."

Shredded secondary: The Jaguars limited Texans receiver Andre Johnson to two catches for 36 yards in the first meeting. Johnson caught 13 passes for 154 yards on Thursday night. He was targeted 21 times. Case Keenum and Matt Schaub combined to throw for 357 yards and two touchdowns and did most of their damage over the middle, which has been a trouble area for the Jaguars all season. Tight end Garrett Graham caught eight passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars have improved against the rush since the bye week but have given up an average of 320.6 yards per game passing in the five games since the break, including 419 yards to Arizona's Carson Palmer and 370 yards to Cleveland's Brandon Weeden. Schaub threw for 198 and Keenum threw for 159.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 14

December, 5, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars players to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.


QB Chad Henne: He got battered around pretty good in the last meeting but did not turn the ball over. In fact, it may have been one of his best games because of how poised he was despite the pressure. The Texans gave up a ton of passing yards to Tom Brady last week. Henne isn’t Brady, though. Verdict: Sit him.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He had a season-high 144 all-purpose yards against the Texans in the last meeting and the Jaguars’ approach of giving Jordan Todman some carries is keeping Jones-Drew fresher. Verdict: Play him as your No. 3 back or flex position.

WR Cecil Shorts: Shorts has a rough day against Cleveland until he finally beat Joe Haden for the game-winning touchdown. The Jaguars may go to some quicker passes to combat the Texan’s pass rush so Shorts should get a lot of action. Verdict. Start him.

TE Marcedes Lewis: It’s pretty clear by now that he’s not going to be a big factor in the passing game, although he did catch a touchdown pass last week. But if three catches is all you can expect, there are better options at tight end. Verdict: Sit him.

K Josh Scobee: He kicked three field goals last week and remains the team’s leading scorer at EverBank Field. There will be no weather issues and he should get a chance to score because of the Jaguars’ improved work in the red zone. Verdict: He’s as good an option as any kicker.

Defense/special teams: The Jaguars did a good job rattling Case Keenum in the last meeting, which helped them shut down Andre Johnson (two catches, 36 yards). The defense is giving up only 67.8 yards per game rushing over the last four games and has recorded nine of its 20 sacks and forced eight of its 16 turnovers in the same span. Verdict: They’re a solid option.


QB Case Keenum: He threw for 272 yards and one interception and ran for a touchdown in the loss to the Patriots last Sunday. More importantly, the offense scored 14 points in the second half. While that’s not great it shows some improvement. The Jaguars secondary has been torched in two of the past three games. Verdict: He might be worth a gamble if you’re in a league that plays two quarterbacks.

RB Ben Tate: He didn’t have a lot of success against the Jaguars (1 yard on seven carries) but he’s coming off a big day against the Patriots: 102 yards and three TDs. The Jaguars have been good against the run the last four weeks, but Tate is rounding back into form. Verdict: He’s a solid option as your No. 2 or 3 back.

TE Garrett Graham: He is one of the few tight ends who did nothing against the Jaguars. Verdict: Sit him.

WR Andre Johnson: The safest play this week is Johnson, who I can virtually guarantee will catch more than two passes against the Jaguars. Verdict: Start him.

K Randy Bullock: The Texans cannot be as inept offensively as they were 11 days ago, which should mean Bullock is a solid option. Verdict: Like Scobee, he’s as good an option as any kicker.

Defense/special teams: New England just torched the Texans for 435 yards, including 365 passing. The Jaguars don’t have the same kind of weapons, obviously, and the Texan’s pass rush really gave Henne trouble in the last meeting. Will they force mistakes, this time? Verdict: The Texans are a good gamble.

Five things to watch: Jaguars-Texans

December, 5, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five things to watch in Thursday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Houston Texans game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.:

Where’s Andre? The Jaguars did a good job in the last meeting of limiting Andre Johnson to two catches for 36 yards. Part of the reason was how poorly quarterback Case Keenum played, but the Jaguars did have a hand in that as well, sacking him twice, hitting him five other times, and breaking up nine passes. But the Jaguars also made sure they knew where Johnson was at all times and gave the corners safety help over the top. Plus, a player without coverage responsibilities slid over to help on shorter routes. Expect the Texans to get Johnson involved early and often.

Playing loose: Coach Gus Bradley told the players he didn’t want them getting amped up because Thursday’s game will be on national TV. "What are we doing next Sunday?" Bradley said. "Don’t get amped up? I don’t want to send them that double message." Still, you can sense excitement among the players, who are eager to show they’re a significantly better team than the one that started the season 0-8. Does that mean they’ll play loose and trust their preparation, like Bradley told them, or will be they a big tight? Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get from a young team until the moment happens.

Watt’s happening: Texans DE J.J. Watt had only one sack in the first meeting, but he hit quarterback Chad Henne five times and had two tackles for loss. The Jaguars have to do a better job of neutralizing him this time. Henne took quite a beating in that game (four sacks, 13 hits) but stood in the pocket and didn’t make poor throws. Look for some quicker throws to keep that from happening in this meeting.

More Todman: Running back Jordan Todman has gotten more work the past four games, in part to give Maurice Jones-Drew a bit of a break but also because he has proven he deserves carries. He has run for 82 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the last four games, including 62 yards on 16 carries in the past two games. He had a career-high 11 carries for 31 yards against Houston on Nov. 24, which was also the day that Jones-Drew produced a season-high 144 all-purpose yards.

Defensive line surprise: Bradley said defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackle Abry Jones will both be active against the Texans. That means another defensive lineman -- possibly tackle Brandon Deaderick or end Ryan Davis -- will be inactive. Tackle Roy Miller has been battling a shoulder injury all season but the Jaguars going non-contact this week because of the short turnaround gave him additional time to rest the shoulder.
Keenum-BabinGetty ImagesAre Case Keenum's Texans and Jason Babin's Jaguars on different paths as they near season's end?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The streaks the Jaguars and Texans are on entering tonight's game are ones that would have been hard to believe after the first two weeks of the season.

The Jaguars started 0-2 and played so poorly it looked like they would go down as one of the worst teams in NFL history. The Texans started 2-0, and while those victories were shaky, it looked like they'd be able to right the ship and be one of the top playoff seeds in the AFC.

Three months later, the Jaguars (3-9) are 3-1 since their bye and have won back-to-back games for the first time since 2010. The Texans (2-10) have dropped a franchise-record 10 consecutive games, including a 13-6 loss to the Jaguars in Houston on Nov. 24.

Jaguars reporter Michael DiRocco and Texans reporter Tania Ganguli break down the matchup:

DiRocco: Tania, the Texans felt like they were at rock bottom after losing to the Jaguars on Nov. 24. What's their state of mind heading into Thursday's game?

Ganguli: They were up for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. It was a big one for the Texans after the way the Patriots blew them out twice last season, and that was apparent in the game. The Texans' offense played what might have been its best game with Case Keenum at quarterback, moving the ball from start to finish. There were some positives in that game, but ultimately the loss officially knocked the Texans out of playoff contention. Now they’re playing for pride. They can still avoid the league’s cellar when the season ends. And while there’s a section of fans that cares about the No. 1 overall pick above all else, a win would mean a lot to the team.

The last time the Texans played the Jaguars, the Texans fell to 2-9 and the Jaguars rose to 2-9, causing the Texans to join the Jaguars with the worst record in the NFL. Now the Texans are there alone and the Jaguars have won three out of their past four games. Is that indicative of a turnaround, or of poor play by their opponents?

DiRocco: It's a little of both, but I'd say more that the Jaguars have improved. In the four games since the bye, they're much better against the run (68 yards per game allowed vs. 162), have recorded nine of their 20 sacks, and are plus-3 in turnover ratio. The offensive line has been more consistent and receiver Ace Sanders has begun to emerge as a reliable option. So they are playing much better than the first eight games, which they lost by double digits. But the Jaguars haven't exactly played against the league's elite: The four teams are a combined 18-30 and only one (Arizona) has a winning record. They haven't exactly had to deal with elite QBs, either: Jake Locker/Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer, Keenum and Brandon Weeden. Still, that shouldn't take away from the fact that the Jaguars are a better team than they were a month ago and have played well enough to win three consecutive games on the road for the first time since 2007.

Ben Tate looked pretty good against the Patriots, and it's probably not a coincidence that he rushes for 102 yards and the Texans nearly win. Is he back to 100 percent and is he the key for the Texans against the Jaguars? He really struggled in the previous meeting.

Ganguli: The running game just didn’t seem to get going in these teams’ last meeting, but Tate rebounded in a big way against the Patriots last weekend. He was asked if it was the best game the offensive line had played, and he said it was definitely one of them. Tate won’t talk about it, but he’s playing for a contract, as this is his final year with the Texans. The Texans’ offense needs him to be productive, and he was on Sunday.

It feels, from the outside, like a completely different season has sprouted for the Jaguars, whose nine losses all have been by double digits. Who has been the MVP of their three recent wins?

DiRocco: It hasn't really been one player, which is indicative of the growth the team has made since the bye week. Against Tennessee it was linebacker Paul Posluszny, who set the tone for the defense on the game’s first offensive snap when he knocked the ball loose from Chris Johnson and recovered the fumble at the Tennessee 19-yard line. Three plays later the Jaguars took a 7-0 lead and never trailed. Against Houston it was running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for a season-high 84 yards and one touchdown and had a season-high 144 total yards. Against Cleveland it was Cecil Shorts, who fought through two drops and dealing with cornerback Joe Haden. Shorts beat Haden on a double-move to catch the game-winning touchdown pass with 40 seconds to play.

The last time the teams met, the Jaguars held Andre Johnson to just two catches. What kind of game do you expect out of him on Thursday?

Ganguli: Johnson’s production in that meeting had as much to do with the shakiness of the quarterback as it did with Johnson. Keenum had a rough day with both his decision-making and accuracy. He was gun-shy, and it hurt him and his receivers. It was no surprise then that a better day for Keenum coincided with a better day for Johnson against the Patriots. He caught eight passes for 121 yards, becoming the second-fastest player in league history to reach 900 career catches. I think you’ll see something closer to that version of Johnson. I don’t see Keenum regressing to what he was 11 days ago.

To wrap up, let’s talk about Jones-Drew some more, a guy who is probably pretty happy with the events of the past week. His college team won its big rivalry game, his current team won again and he got to throw a touchdown pass. That followed a game against Houston with those 144 all-purpose yards. Do you expect similar production from him? And how thrilled was he to get to throw that touchdown pass?

DiRocco: Jones-Drew is riding a pretty good wave, isn’t he? He’s probably the most proud of the touchdown pass, which makes him the first non-quarterback to throw a TD pass in franchise history. It also makes up for his only other career pass attempt, which got intercepted. Jones-Drew’s production has increased the past several weeks because the offensive line has been more consistent and he’s more involved in the passing game. He says catching passes doesn’t result in as much pounding as running through the line of scrimmage, so he’s fresher in the fourth quarter. I expect him to get 20 touches tonight.

RTC: Bradley never lost the players

December, 5, 2013
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley lost a lot of games this season, but he never lost the players.

That's why the Jaguars are 3-1 since the bye, writes the Florida Times-Union's Gene Frenette.

"Gus has been consistent with the same message since April 2nd of getting better," receiver Cecil Shorts said. "When you're 0-8 a lot of teams can go downhill and everything can be in turmoil. He kept the locker room together, kept his coaches together, and kept us growing together. That's all on Gus."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran provides four keys for tonight's game, a capsule with pertinent information, and a breakdown on why the offensive line has performed better in the running game.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon writes that holding Houston receiver Andre Johnson in check as the Jaguars did in the earlier meeting will certainly not be easy.

A roundup of items from this blog: the Jaguars can still make the playoffs; the weekly NFL Nation Buzz video; defensive end Jeremy Mincey is likely to be active; the weekly Jaguars mailbag (a day early because the Jaguars play tonight).

RTC: Draft spot on line on Thursday

December, 4, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Thursday's game will go a long way to determine whether the Jaguars have the No. 1 overall draft pick in May.

If the Jaguars lose to the Houston Texans they're in good shape to have that first pick. If they win, however, they could drop all the way to ninth by the end of the weekend -- depending on what happens elsewhere around the league, writes Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette.

If the season ended today, the Jaguars would have the No. 3 overall pick.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

O'Halloran gives three storylines for Thursday's game, including having to deal with Texans defensive end J.J. Watt again.

Coach Gus Bradley says defensive end Jeremy Mincey is likely to play against the Texans after sitting out the last two games for disciplinary reasons, the T-U's Vito Stellino writes.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon writes that the Jaguars had their best mix of play calling and execution against Cleveland.

Here's a roundup of items from this blog: stopping Texans receiver Andre Johnson like the Jaguars did in the first meeting won't be easy; receiver Cecil Shorts has the top spot in the weekly rankings of the Jaguars' top 10 playmakers; the Jaguars remained No. 31 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings; Marcus Mariota's decision to return to school impacts the Jaguars' draft.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Houston receiver Andre Johnson is third in the NFL with 82 receptions.

The Jaguars are only responsible for two.

Johnson managed just two catches for 36 yards in the Jaguars' 13-6 victory over the Texans in Houston on Nov. 24. That success, however, doesn't mean anything when the teams meet again on Thursday night at EverBank Field.

"You definitely throw it out," cornerback Dwayne Gratz said. "You feel good about it for a little bit but it's a new game. He has more chances to go out there and make plays, so we've still got to do our job."

The Jaguars limited Johnson by making sure they knew where he was at all times. They play almost exclusively man coverage and cornerback Alan Ball drew Johnson most of the game. He was rarely alone, though. He had safety help over the top and a player without coverage responsibilities sliding over to help on shorter routes.

Another factor was the pass rush. The Jaguars got good pressure on Case Keenum, sacking him twice and hitting him five other times. They also broke up nine passes, including a big hit on Johnson by safety Winston Guy.

All Johnson could manage was a 15-yard catch on third-and-6 early in the third quarter and a 21-yarder on third-and-4 on the Texans' final drive.

"I think the first meeting they came in and had a great plan defensively and they did a great job of executing," Johnson said. "You have to give them credit. … I think when we played them last time we never got into rhythm as an offense."

Ball said the Jaguars will change some of the things they did in coverage because it would be foolish to expect the same things to work again. The Texans will obviously make adjustments to get Johnson more involved, too, like he was against New England last Sunday when he caught eight passes for 121yards.

But the thing that will stay the same is making the linebackers and defensive backs know where Johnson is at every moment.

"We're just going to go out and execute like it's the first time we're playing them and come with a new game plan and new strategy for just trying to limit his touches and limit his effectiveness," Ball said. "We know they're going to try to get him the ball. He's coming off a strong week last week so we expect carryover from that.

"But everybody on the defense has to be aware of where he's at and know how they're trying to attack you with his alignment. I think everybody needs to be on the same page and focused in on that."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Now that they’ve won three of the last four games, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t a joke any longer.

Unless you listen to the some of the comments from players on the teams they’ve beaten. Losing to the Jaguars is apparently the worst thing they’ve experienced in their careers.

That has some Jaguars players amused -- and a little miffed, too.

"It’s not annoying," guard Uche Nwaneri said. "It’s ridiculous. Really? Are we a high school team playing ya’ll? You have to apologize to your city because you lost to us?

"It’s the NFL. Every win is a hard-earned win. There’s rarely just easy sailing for any team throughout the course of the season so when you’re able to pull out a win you celebrate it. When you lose you try to be as gracious as you can in defeat but don’t trivialize our win because we came in here with a record that wasn’t as good as yours."

The Jaguars were 0-8 when they beat the Titans 29-27 on Nov. 10 in Nashville, Tenn. The Jaguars forced four turnovers and got a safety because of a holding penalty in the end zone, a play that turned out to provide the final margin.

After the game, tight Delanie Walker was almost in disbelief that the Titans -- who were 4-4 with a game against the Jaguars before one against the division-leading Colts -- somehow lost the game.

"It’s disgusting," he told Nashville media. "I’m disappointed. I’m embarrassed. A team that’s 0-8 comes in here and beats us? Beats us on our home field, that’s 0-8, the Jaguars? Come on. ... Talking about first place? We just got whooped by the Jaguars."

It got worse two weeks later when the 1-9 Jaguars went into Houston and upset the 2-8 Texans 13-6. Running back Ben Tate said he was embarrassed for the city, cornerback Johnathan Joseph said there was no way they should have lost the game, and offensive tackle Duane Brown apologized to the city.

Receiver Andre Johnson called it the lowest point of his Texans career.

Cleveland’s players were much nicer after last Sunday’s 32-28 loss in which the Jaguars drove 80 yards to score the game-winning touchdown with 40 seconds remaining. But cornerback Joe Haden, who was beaten for the winning TD, went on an emotional, expletive-filled rant about being tired of losing -- the implication being the Jaguars were a team the Browns (4-7 entering the game) should have easily beaten.

"I don’t care what the opposing team thinks," said Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts, a Cleveland native who beat Haden for the touchdown. "It’s the NFL. You’re going to win or lose each week. You’ve got to bring your best that week. For us, we’re getting better.

"We’ve been 3-1 since the bye week so if they’ve got a problem with it come see us. That’s how I feel about it."

Not every Jaguars player was bothered by the comments made by the Titans, Texans and Browns. Linebacker Paul Posluszny just shrugged his shoulders.

"You know, it is what it is," said. "From their [the Titans’] perspective we were 0-8 so they think we’re the worst team in the league. What are you going to do? That’s not something we worry about.

"It’s an NFL team against an NFL team. Regardless of our record we still have Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis. We have Pro Bowl players. For them to say that to me it’s … just one of those things you blow off."

Not Nwaneri, though.

"There’s so many things that happen on the field, chitter-chatter in between players about so many different things, that it didn’t surprise me necessarily when they started talking," he said. "I was more like, this sounds like a child complaining because they can’t have their way."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 32-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

What it means: It has been a while -- nearly three years, in fact -- but the Jaguars finally have a winning streak. Their victory over the Browns marks the first time they have won back-to-back games since Weeks 13-14 of the 2010 season. Jacksonville (3-9) has won three of its four games since the bye week. All of those victories have come on the road, which marks the first time since 2007 the Jaguars have won three consecutive road games.

Stock watch: It had been a pretty miserable homecoming for Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts, who grew up in Cleveland and played collegiately at Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio -- until the Jaguars' final drive. Browns cornerback Joe Haden had pretty much shut Shorts down and Shorts hurt himself with two drops. But he came up big when it mattered most, beating Haden for a 20-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 40 seconds remaining. On the other end of the spectrum, the secondary really struggled. The Jaguars had little trouble with Houston's Andre Johnson last week, holding the All-Pro to just two catches. But they appeared to be playing a man short because Josh Gordon absolutely shredded them for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon's last touchdown was a 95-yard catch and run in which safety Winston Guy went for the interception instead of the tackle and rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz chased Gordon for 20-plus yards and never dove for Gordon's legs.

Ace in the hole: With Shorts a nonfactor for most of the game and Mike Brown playing with a very sore shoulder, the Jaguars needed somebody to step up at receiver, and Ace Sanders did, catching five passes for 38 yards and carrying it once for 4 yards in the first half. Those don't sound like big numbers, but Sanders converted four third downs. He finished with a team-high eight catches for 67 yards, including a 25-yarder on the Jaguars' game-winning touchdown drive.

Turnover binge: The Jaguars went from trailing 14-7 to leading 20-14 in less than a two-minute span at the end of the first half thanks to three turnovers. Two were interceptions, which double the amount the Jaguars' secondary had entering the game. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien picked off the first pass of his career, which led to Maurice Jones-Drew's touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis to tie the game with 1:24 remaining. Gratz intercepted Brandon Weeden's next pass, which led to Josh Scobee's 44-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead with 52 seconds remaining. The Browns tried to drive for a field goal but defensive end Jason Babin knocked the ball from Weeden's hand and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks recovered the ball and returned it to the Cleveland 18-yard line with five seconds remaining. Scobee hit a 36-yard field goal to give the Jaguars a six-point lead.

What's next: The Jaguars will play host to the Houston Texans on Thursday night.
All Ryan Davis wanted was a chance.

When he finally got one, he made the most of it.

Davis, who spent the first 11 weeks of the season on the practice squad, sealed the Jaguars' 13-6 victory over Houston on Sunday by intercepting a deflected pass with 34 seconds remaining.

"I was just following my coaching and putting in the extra effort," Davis told the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran. "I was fortunate to be in position to make the play."

Davis' play was another signal that the Jaguars (2-9) are improving. So was the improved running game, the way they shut down Texans receiver Andre Johnson, and the way they overcame four sacks and seven penalties.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

Defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who did not make the trip to Houston because of a violation of team rules, likely faces a fine by the team, O'Halloran writes.

The T-U's Hays Carylon writes that the Jaguars' running game finally got its MoJo back.

T-U columnist Gene Frenette writes that it was refreshing to see the Jaguars' defense finally start to play well.

How did the Jaguars shut down Texans receiver Andre Johnson? Location, location, location.

The Jaguars' run game was keyed by the offensive line's most consistent performance of the season, which was the result of the team not having a full-pads practice on Wednesday, guard Uche Nwaneri said.

WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper discuss the improvement the Jaguars made on Sunday. Pepper also writes what he took away from the game.
HOUSTON -- Safety Josh Evans sounded a lot like a real estate agent on Sunday when he was explaining how the Jaguars defended Houston receiver Andre Johnson.

Location, location, location.

Everyone needed to know exactly where Johnson was at all times, Evans said. Find him when he left the huddle, check where he lined up, keep an eye on him when he went in motion, and make sure he didn’t go anywhere unaccompanied after the snap.

[+] EnlargeHouston's Andre Johnson
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderThe Jaguars' corralled Andre Johnson all afternoon, limiting the Texans' star to just two receptions.
"The whole thing was to see where he was at on the field at all times and I think we did a good job of that," Evans said after the Jaguars' 13-6 victory at Reliant Stadium. "We know that he was their main threat and their main guy they wanted to go to, so eliminating him just kind of made things a little easier for the defense."

The Jaguars didn’t eliminate Johnson from the game, but they came pretty darn close. Johnson caught just two passes for 36 yards: a 15-yarder on third-and-6 early in the third quarter and a 21-yarder on third-and-4 on the Texans’ final drive.

It was his worst performance of the season, surpassing his three-catch day in the Texans’ 34-3 loss to San Francisco.

"We suck as an offense," Johnson said. "That’s pretty much it."

But the Texans didn’t stink at getting Johnson the ball this season. He entered the game second in the NFL with 72 catches and needed just 34 yards for his seventh’s 1,000-yard season. Quarterback Case Keenum targeted him once in the first quarter, once in the second, and once early in the third before the two finally hooked up for a 15-yard gain.

Johnson should have had his first catch in the second quarter on a deep in, but safety Winston Guy hammered Johnson from behind and knocked the ball loose.

"That’s one of those plays you need throughout the game," cornerback Alan Ball said. "When they get big hits like that no matter what it does to the offensive player it ignites us. That was a boost for us."

The Jaguars play almost exclusively man coverage and Ball drew Johnson most of the game. He was rarely alone, though. He had safety help over the top and a player without coverage responsibilities sliding over to help on shorter routes. Another factor was the pass rush. The Jaguars got good pressure on Keenum, sometimes using blitzes up the middle, and was able to rattle him into some errant throws.

The Jaguars sacked Keenum twice, hit him five other times, and broke up nine passes, including two at the line of scrimmage by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. One of Marks’ deflections came on a throw to Johnson.

"Our D-line did a great job," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "You put pressure on and that makes a world of difference. All of a sudden the quarterback can't stand in the pocket and look for No. 80 downfield. He’s got guys in his face. That makes a world of difference."

Making Johnson a non-factor was a bit surprising considering Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards last week and Michael Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Evans said the secondary was stung by that performance and felt that corralling Johnson would be a good way to make up for it.

But he didn’t know just how good of a job they had done.

"As the game’s going you honestly don’t even pay attention to it that much because you’re trying to work on getting off the field on third down," Evans said. "But you start noticing, ‘Hey, we’re starting to do a pretty good job on him and he hasn’t had a lot of touches.’"