The Houston Texans defense finished last season ranked 2nd in the NFL in total defense. The only way to improve on that standing this season is to finish number one in the league. After two weeks of play, the ’Bulls On Parade’ defense look like they intend to get there. The Jacksonville Jaguars and QB Blaine Gabbert were the latest parade guests, but there was little pageantry or fanfare for the Jags.
Instead the Texans defense matched the Florida skies, as both rained on Jacksonville’s home opener that was thoroughly dominated by the Texans in a 27-7 Houston wipe-out of the Jags. How good was the Texans defense on Sunday? They set several franchise records on the day and rendered Jacksonville helpless on offense. In fact, the most impressive run of the day by anyone associated with Jacksonville was by the Jaguar fan who ran onto the field in the fourth quarter and managed to elude security for over a full minute until Jags DB Dwight Lowery grabbed him.
To the delight of the Jags fans in the stands, the guy ran about 175 yards in his back on forth jaunt on the field. Sadly for those same fans, his total yardage gained was higher than that of the home team. The Texans set a franchise record by allowing Jacksonville to accumulate only 117 total yards of offense Sunday. That mark broke the previous franchise record of 126 yards allowed, also against the Jags in Jacksonville on the day after Christmas in 2004.
That was not the only franchise record set by the Texans defense. The 43 yards that they held Jacksonville to in the 1st half was also a franchise best mark. That beat the previous 1st half mark of 50 yards allowed to the San Francisco 49ers on 10/25/09. Wait, that’s not it either. The Jags had -4 passing yards in the 1st half. That’s right, -4 as in negative 4 yards passing. That number set another franchise best mark, besting the 0 yards passing allowed to the San Diego Chargers on 10/28/07.
Those aforementioned stats only begin to tell the story about how badly Houston’s defense dominated Jacksonville. The Jaguars had 12 offensive possessions in the game and went three-and-out on 7 of them. Only 4 of those possessions lasted longer than 4 plays. Of those 12 drives, 4 of them went for negative yardage. The longest drive Jacksonville covered in this game was a paltry 37 yard drive. That drive culminated in their only score of the game, a touchdown that was aided by a long kickoff return that gave them excellent field position.
Other than that, the Jags were shut down by the ‘Bulls on Parade’. They were led once again by non other than J.J. Watt, who through two games has been the most dominant, disruptive defensive player in the league. Watt led the Texans with 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2 passes defensed and a fumble recovery, as he filled the stat sheet from his DE position once again. The 1.5 sacks gave him a sack in 4 consecutive games dating back to last season’s playoffs.
Also getting to Gabbert in this game was Brooks Reed and Antonio Smith, who joined the sack party for the Texans. As I predicted in my game preview column it was long a day for Gabbert, who was knocked out of the game in the 2nd half with a leg injury. Gabbert was replaced by Chad Henne, who fared no better against the Texans defense. The Jags QBs got little help from the run game, as RB Maurice Jones-Drew found little room to run against the Texans front 7.
It was just another day at the office for Wade Phillips‘ Texans defense that went 6+ quarters before allowing their first touchdown this season. Pundits will say that they have benefited from playing the Jags and the Miami Dolphins to open the season. However, that same Dolphins team that the Texans defense only gave up 3 points to put up 35 yesterday vs the Oakland Raiders.
There is no doubt that the Texans defense is the real deal, and they are looking forward to their biggest challenge of the young season coming up in week 3. The next stop on the parade route is Denver, as old AFC South pal and nemesis Peyton Manning awaits them at Sports Authority Field at Mile High this coming Sunday. This will be Manning’s first look at Houston’s Phillips led 3-4 defense, as he missed all of last season and both games against the Texans. If the first two weeks are any indication, #18 is going to have to be on top of his game to put points up on this bullish Texans defense.