The Jaguars limped into week 5 both literally and figuratively. On the literal side of things, the defense came in riddled with injuries. The Jags were without linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Josh Allen, and defensive backs C.J. Henderson and D.J. Hayden coming into this contest. During the game they lost safeties Andrew Wingard to a core muscle injury and Josh Jones to an ejection following a helmet-to-helmet hit on Brandin Cooks.
In a figurative sense, the team had dragged themselves through three straight losses. This contest in Houston figured to be their best chance to steal a victory against a Texans team searching for an identity as well as their first win of the season. However, this AFC South matchup did not prove fruitful for the Jags, as they dropped their fourth straight in a frustrating 30-14 loss to a team one week removed from firing their head coach, Bill O’Brien. This loss leaves the Jags at 1-4 on the season.
One of the biggest takeaways from this game, as well as the entire season, is that the Jags kickers are in trouble. As of right now, Jacksonville has rostered 4 kickers so far this year. Josh Lambo started the first two games but has been out with a hip injury. Rooke Brandon Wright replaced him in week 3 but was waived after suffering a groin injury. Aldrick Rosas started in week 4 but was moved to the practice squad injured list, which led to Stephen Hauschka taking the reins in week 5 despite missing the previous game with a knee injury.
Hauschka converted two extra points against Houston, but missed two extremely important field goals in the second quarter. The first was a 24-yard attempt that Hauschka hooked left that would have tied the game with a little over 30 seconds left in the half when the Jags were down 10-7. Following an interception by Sydney Jones, Hauschka got another chance to tie the game. This attempt was from 49 yards with 4 seconds left before the half with the score still 10-7. However, his kick didn’t have enough juice, as it fell short of the goalposts.
The kicking issues surely changed the course of this game, as the lack of confidence in Hauschka led to a few attempted 4th-down conversions. The Jags were only 1-3 on those attempts, and one of those failures was a botched play in the redzone that led to a James Robinson fumble. Robinson was held to just 48 yards rushing on 13 carries despite a matchup against a defense ranked last in run defense.
Gardner Minshew threw for 301 yards and 2 touchdowns on 31/49 passing. The Jaguars are 0-5 all time when Minshew throws for 300 or more yards in a game. Laviska Shenault Jr. continues to have an impressive season by hauling in 7 catches for 79 yards. Keelan Cole caught his first touchdown since week two and rookie Collin Johnson hit the scoreboard for the first time in his career by snagging a toss from Minshew in the 4th quarter.
Despite giving up 30 points for the 4th straight game, the Jacksonville defense actually played well. They gave this team every chance to win, and held the Texans within reach for a majority of the game. They even picked off Deshaun Watson twice, though he eventually wore them out, ending the game with 359 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25/35 passing.
David Johnson led the Texans rushing attack with 96 yards on 17 carries while Brandin Cooks led all receivers with 8 catches for 161 yards and 1 touchdown. Watson’s other scoring tosses went to Will Fuller V, and tight end Darren Fells who capitalized on a key breakdown in the Jags secondary.
This loss falls on the offense for failing to put together scoring drives, and on Hauschka for leaving 6 points on the table when the team needed them most. While the defense has their struggles, this game seemed winnable for most of the game. The Jags return home next week where they face a Lions team that has proven to be beatable so far this season. Detroit is 1-3 but are coming off a bye week.