Before anyone gets too excited about the Jacksonville Jaguars decision to claim wide receiver Jaelen Strong off waivers from the Houston Texans, it’s worth noting just why it was Strong was available in the first place.
After all, you can make the argument that as desperate as the Jaguars were and maybe still are for help at the wide receiver position, the Texans may be even more desperate.
When the Texans finally decided on Monday to carry out the plan to dump Strong that they first contemplated three weeks ago they did so despite the fact it left them with just two fully healthy pass catchers.
One of those, of course, is DeAndre Hopkins. The other is Braxton Miller, the 2016 third-round draft pick who has caught just 17 of the 32 passes he’s been targeted for since he came into the league last year.
As for Houston’s other receivers, Will Fuller is still recovering from a broken collarbone and was just returning to the practice field when the Texans let Strong go on Monday and Bruce Ellington was still in the concussion protocol.
The Texans also have rookie Andy Jones, a player they claimed off waivers from the Cowboys, cut and then re-signed after letting Strong go, which may tell you everything you need to know about Strong.
Clearly the Texans had simply had enough of Strong, who may simply be in need of a new start somewhere else and therefore may benefit greatly from the change of scenery. Surely that’s what the Jaguars are hoping.
But if the Jaguars passing game is going to benefit from the addition of Strong or any other wide receiver, it will first have to get some improved play from its offensive line and its quarterback.
The Jaguars line played remarkably well in its season opener against the Texans two weeks ago, but its play slipped markedly against a seemingly lesser defensive front during its Week 2 loss to the Titans.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars surrendered 11 total quarterback pressures to the Titans pass rushers, who blew past rookie left tackle Cam Robinson for five of those pressures.
The only thing worse than the pressure itself was how quarterback Blake Bortles handled it. Per PFF, Bortles completed just two of the nine passes he attempted against pressure while also throwing an interception for a 4.2 passer rating.
All of that is an indication that while the Jaguars do are indeed in need of some help at receiver, their needs actually run much deeper and that the addition of this receiver won’t matter if they don’t fix their other problems as well.
Can Jaguars get necessary spark from Gardner Minshew?
The Jaguars were back on the practice field on Wednesday and have to rally around their rookie QB, Gardner Minshew, to re-ignite their season. And their opponent, may be the perfect for them, too.
Minshew took over in the second half for an ineffective Nick Foles, as Foles committed turnovers on each of Jacksonville’s first three possessions. Now, he’s back as their starter to see if the 4-8 Jags can salvage some games in December.
Now, the 4-win L.A. Chargers come stumbling to North Florida off a dramatic loss in Denver and yet, somehow, have been listed as 2.5-point underdogs by top sports betting sites.
Philip Rivers and the Chargers, new-look defense is coming to Jacksonville to try and move to 5-8 and make a run at a .500 season. In effect, both of these teams’ seasons are all but over, so they are just playing for pride. And while mathematically, the Jags are not completely out of the AFC South race, yet, let’s be honest … the Titans and Texans are not going to drop four straight games … and it definitely isn’t looking like the Jags are going to win four straight.
Coach Doug Marrone is clearly in trouble and everything they try is not working. There were plenty of games that the Jaguars could have or should have won, but didn’t. And, now they are sitting on the very bottom of the AFC South with few games remaining.
Onto to the matchup.
The Chargers have owned the Jaguars historically, as they have won in two of the last three and seven of the last ten meetings. But right now, this is a pretty good spot for the Jags.
When we look at standard offense on any given Sunday, the L.A. Chargers are about two points better than the Jacksonville Jaguars on average. The Chargers put up 20.33 points per game against the Jags 18.33. It would be nice for Jaguars fans, if the Chargers performed significantly worse on the road, but they don’t.
They are almost exactly the same level of bad whether at home in Los Angeles or out on the road. And unfortunately, for Jags fans who buy tickets to home games, they have let them down at TIAA Field by performing worse in Jacksonville, to the tune of nearly three points per game. They score just 15.83 on their home field.
The yardage stats are comparable in this one, as the Chargers pass for 255.33 per game, while the Jags pass for 242.50. The Chargers rush for 92 yards per game, while the Jags run game with Leonard Fournette has dropped off to 79.67 average, currently.
On defense, the Chargers are a respectable top ten unit (No. 7 in the league) that allows just 18.50 points per game. They hold teams to 212 yards passing and 97.83 yards rushing.
However, that’s where Minshew will put them to the test. He is far more mobile than Foles and got Jacksonville 11 points in the second half Sunday with them driving for more. That is until the rookie’s killer interception at the Tampa Bay goaline midway through the fourth quarter.
So, most of the numbers point the another Jacksonville loss. That said, the Chargers have lost three straight but have shown some flashes of brilliance. So too did Minshew, who won four games in eight tries earlier this year as the fill-in starter.
If you can avoid this game for your “Survivor Pools” do so … If you are a bettor … stay away.
This is a game where anything can happen, especially with “Minshew Mania” back.
Who will FSU hire and did Jags make right move with Minshew?
Who will FSU end up with as head coach? Did the Jaguars make the right move going back to Gardner Minshew?
These subjects and more are part of the most recent F.F.I. podcast.
Host Matt Zemek welcomes in guests T.J. Rives of the Buccaneers Radio Network to discuss the latest in Florida football.
First the guys talk about the Gators impressive rivalry win over Florida State and what will the Noles do to fill the head coaching vacancy left by Willie Taggart? Next, UCF pummeled USF Friday night in their rivalry game and it resulted in coach Charlie Strong being fired after just three seasons.
What kind of coach can the Bulls expect to hire with a circumstances they are in and all of the other openings around college football?
Meanwhile, the only FBS team in the state that is still playing is the FAU Owls. Lane Kiffin’s team is going for a second Conference USA championship in three seasons, as they play host Saturday to UAB. Matt and T.J. discuss the game including T.J. being part of the national radio broadcast on TuneIn Saturday afternoon from Boca Raton.
Finally, the subject of the NFL comes up next has T.J. was on the sidelines for the Buccaneers 28 – 11 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday afternoon. The Bucs defense stuffed quarterback Nick Foles with sacks and turnovers, and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone went to a rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew in the second half. Minshew, who won four games in Foles’ absence earlier this year, sparked the offense for their only points on the day.
Then, on Monday, Marrone announced that Minshew will take over as the starter beginning with this week’s game against the L.A. Chargers. Matt and T.J. discuss what this means for the Jags and the future of Foles, who’s owed a bunch of guaranteed money?
And finally, the Miami Dolphins have won three times in the last four games including pulling off a hilariously effective trick play involving their punter and kicker for a touchdown Sunday. This was part of their upset win over the Eagles.
The guys talk about what this means for the Dolphins and their possible draft position and chances to get their hands on one of the top college star quarterbacks.
Hear it all as part of ffi latest podcast.