Texans/Jaguars -- 4 Winners, 4 Losers
"I still don't like them, and I have no respect for them at all. It was just the dirty stuff they were doing. I don't want to get into specifics; I just don't like them. . . . I'm not going to get into names or anything like that, but we play them again." -- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Terrence Knighton
Photo by Marco Torres Texans battlefought their way to a win in Battle Red.
So look at this, what have we here? The Jacksonville Jaguars, after hanging in yesterday for as long as they could with our big, bad Texans, are complaining about their dirty tactics and issuing warnings about the rematch in a few weeks.
Part of me wants to pat the Jags on their collective head, muss their hair and say, "God bless your little souls" (in a quaint Southern accent, like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side) like a kindergarten teacher would to the weakest kid in the class.
Then there is the other part of me, the one that is looking at the Texans like a proud father. The Texans are now considered a DIRTY TEAM! That's AWESOME! Indeed, our little team is "all growns up!"
Put simply, the Texans scored 24 points yesterday and won the game. Last season, 24 points would have been good enough to win TWO games all season.
As always, Sunday gave us winners and losers. And in honor of the Texans' new feisty mojo and their 5-3 record, we go with a "feel good" FIVE WINNERS and THREE LOSERS today! How about it? Let's go to the film....
5. Jacoby Jones
Just a couple weeks ago, after a one catch for nine yards performance against the Raiders, I insisted that Jacoby Jones would never become an NFL wide receiver. I still have much doubt as to whether his productivity will ever match what the Texans' front office sees in him, but yesterday he made three big catches, and more importantly changed field position a couple of times with big plays in the return game, which is something that almost never happened last year. In short, in a game where field position was at a premium, Jacoby was impactful; he was actually worth three years, $10 million yesterday, which is as nice a thing as I've said about his play all season.
(Twitter SIDEBAR on Jacoby: My favorite tweet of the day came from my buddy @malikthomas when he tweeted "For someone whos scored like 10 times in 5 yrs Jacoby Jones ACTS like he's crazy nice." So true.)
4. Texan tight ends
As well as Matt Schaub has played, he does have the tendency to throw the occasional "Tebow" (my new term for a headscratch-inducing soft toss where you immediately scream "Holy shit" -- and not in a good way -- as soon as it leaves his hand). Yesterday, Schaub had two "Tebows" and each time he was bailed out by a Texans tight end -- first, the touchdown pass to Joel Dreessen to put the Texans up 14-7 where JD wrestled what looked to be a possible pick away from a Jags safety, and then late in the game on the final drive when Owen Daniels picked a low pass off his shoestrings and converted a huge third down (the second time he's done that this season; he did it against Pittsburgh, too, to set up Arian Foster's 42-yard game-winning touchdown run).
3. Brian Cushing
This is actually a bullet point in favor of the entire defense. At the halfway point in 2010, the Texans defense was the worst in the league, to the point where if there were a way to finish 33rd out of 32 teams in some stat, the Texans defense would have found a way. At the halfway point in 2011, they are THIRD in yards per game. And no player more epitomizes the complete 180 of this unit than Cushing. He's not only productive again, but he is vicious and tone-setting, and in a season where DeMeco Ryans is still recovering from his Achilles injury to some degree and Mario Williams is now out for the season, Cushing's value cannot be understated.