In what's been strange, at times dysfunctional, season for the 2021 Houston Texans, they could always take solace in one thing — they weren't even the most dysfunctional team in their own DIVISION. Thanks to the hiring of Urban Meyer, a move that admittedly I thought was a good one before the season, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been flailing in a tsunami of dysfunction since the practically the day Meyer was hired.
Well, that ended late Wednesday night, as Jags owner Shad Khan finally had enough, and fired Meyer just 13 games into his NFL career. There have been many missteps by Meyer along his short NFL journey, but the straw that broke the camel's back appears to be a report that surfaced Wednesday that, in the preseason, Meyer actually kicked his then-kicker Josh Lambo during warmups before a game against the Cowboys and told him "Hey dips—t, make your f—king kicks!"
So now, the Texans head to Jacksonville this weekend to take on a team that will be interim coached by Darrell Bevell, so let's start there in the four things to watch for.
4. Urban Fired
I say that the Lambo incident was the straw that broke Khan's back, but truthfully, Meyer was probably done after a lengthy expose from the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero last weekend, in which he detailed run-ins Meyer had been having with players and lambasting Meyer had been administering on his staff, calling his assistant coaches "losers" and asking them in meetings to defend their resumes. The humor of someone asking people that HE HIRED to defend their resumes aside, it will be fascinating to see the effect of Meyer's departure on his team this weekend. Does the offense run more smoothly? Do the Jags have an extra hop in their step? Do the Jaguar assistants stand around a smoldering Meyer windbreaker at midfield and sing "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead!"? These are the things I am anxious to see!
3. COVID Effect
The big story around the league this week, aside from Meyer's termination, is the rising cases of COVID-19 among players, with over 100 players added to the list of positive tests in just three days this week. The Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns have been hit socially hard, with double digit number of players testing positive, and browns head coach Kevin Stefanski testing positive. It appears that, at the very least, COVID is going to impact the playoff race in some way. As for this game, the Texans have four players who've tested positive — LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Christian Kirksey, DL DeMarcus Walker, and S A.J. Moore. Those are some notable hits to a defense that is paddling upstream to begin with.
2. Texans running game
I will be point blank about this one — the Texans running game in 2021 is the worst I've ever seen in my decades of watching the NFL. Here is how bad it is — Mark Ingram, who hasn't been with the Texans for two months, since they traded him to New Orleans, is still the team's leading rusher with 294 yards. It's bad enough that, 13 games into the season, your leading rusher has only 294 yards. It's REALLY bad when he hasn't even been with the organization since Halloween. So the Texans will try again this weekend, I'm sure, to run the football, and I am fairly certain they will fail.
1. Rookie quarterback derby
If you're a Jaguars fan, the worst thing about the lost season under Urban Meyer is that the organization has essentially wasted a year of Trevor Lawrence's development, which is not insignificant. The most valuable commodity in the NFL are the rookie contract seasons of highly drafted quarterbacks, and the Jags just needlessly burned valuable daylight. Meanwhile, the Texans' rookie quarterback, Davis Mills, gets another game to try to cement himself as, at least, the 2022 starter for this team. The Jags have the 31st best passing defense in the league.
SPREAD: Texans +3.5
PREDICTION: Jaguars 24, Texans 19
SEASON RECORD: 11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS
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