The Jags defense made life hard on T.J. Yates. Jacksonvillejaguars.com
T.J. Yates couldn't deliver and the offense was largely absent as the Texans fell to the Jaguars 45-7 in a lopsided game. Jacksonville secured its first playoff berth since 2007 while Houston fell to 4-10 on the season. Deandre Hopkins was the lone bright spot for the Texans, catching four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Yates finished 12 of 31 for 128 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The Jaguars are doing everything they can in the final weeks to work toward a potential first round playoff bye week and the Texans are just trying to win some games. These are two teams that play hard against each other every year, but it's usually the Texans fighting for playoff seeding.
The Texans pass defense was almost non-existent, allowing Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to throw for 326 yards and three touchdowns. They failed to force any turnovers and allowed points on half of Jacksonville's drives.
It was always going to be tough sledding for the Texans, who began the game ranked 24th in points per game and had T.J. Yates starting for the first time this season. The Jaguars, who have the number one ranked scoring defense, came hard after the new quarterback and the Texans never found a rhythm. They had seven three-and-out drives in 13 chances, managed only 186 yards of total offense and allowed four sacks for -29 yards.
Jacksonville's first four drives resulted in 171 yards and three touchdowns as the Jaguars jumped out to a big 21-0 lead in the early part of the second quarter. Before halftime Jacksonville added a field goal and Blake Bortles threw his third touchdown pass of the game and the lead jumped to 31 points.
The Texans' offense was completely shut down in the first half and without a credible run game they couldn't attack Jacksonville's only defensive weakness. They were forced to rely on a quarterback who couldn't recreate the success from his first action of the season against 49ers last week.
They have scored more than 16 points once since Deshaun Watson was lost in Week 9 so a comeback was highly unlikely.
But at least Yates still has Hopkins to throw to. He had only one catch for 10 yards in the first half with Jalen Ramsey blanketing him in coverage. But they stuck with it and he set the new Texan's franchise record with his 12th touchdown catch of the year in the third quarter.
The Jaguars added two more touchdowns on the ground and continued to chew up the clock on the way to victory. The rest of the game was a deflated effort by the Texans to get out of town and search for a way to find some offense.
This may have been what was expected against the No. 2 overall defense in the NFL but it certainly wasn't what fans want to see. It doesn't look good next week either as the Steelers come to town for a prime-time game.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.