Looming Large: Matt Schaub

I don't know about you, but I feel a little bit of queasiness in my stomach right now. I know the Jaguars have won three straight games and are making the horrible showing on defense in week 1 against the Titans look like an aberration, but there is a legitimate reason for that feeling of uncertainty.

It's Houston Texans week.

The Texans have been a thorn in the Jaguars side since their inception, including a 21-0 win in December of 2004 against a Jaguars team that was making a run at the playoffs. Houston currently leads the overall series 6-4 after sweeping the Jaguars last year. Perhaps the Colts aren't the team the Jaguars need to focus on each year, maybe it is Houston.

One thing that Jags fans can be happy about is that the main catalyst for the recent Texans success is now playing in Carolina. While David Carr struggled against the rest of the league, he thrived against the Jaguars and seemed to thoroughly enjoy beating them.

However, his replacement at quarterback has been everything that Houston hoped for and more.

In his first 5 games, Matt Schaub has completed 70.7% of his passes for 1,299 yards with 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 95.5 quarterback rating to give the Texans the league's seventh best passing game.

Not even the loss of Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson to injury in week two has slowed him down. After averaging 226 passing yards per game with Johnson (14 catches, 262 yards, 3 TD's) in the lineup, Schaub has upped his play to the tune of an average of 282 passing yards per game in the last three games. He narrowly missed recording back to back 300-yard games last week, finishing with 294 against Miami.

Given the combination of Jacksonville's stout run defense and the Texans putrid running game, the focus this week should be getting pressure on Schaub early and often. He has shown that if you get pressure and rattle him you can force him into making mistakes (6 turnovers in 5 games).

Jacksonville's Modus operandi this season has been a very simple strategy. Run the ball, stop the run, and win the game. There is no reason to think it will be any different this week. If the Jaguars are able to get a few turnovers, get the early lead, and make the Texans a one-dimensional passing team it would play right into the hands of this team and lead to a fourth consecutive win. That would get them back to .500 in the division and truly make the Monday Night Football game with the Colts that is looming on the horizon a showdown for the position of AFC South's lead dog.

With Halloween only 3 weeks away, it is time for the Jaguars to start exorcising some divisional rival demons


Jags Illustrated Top Stories