Jaguars looking for a jolt on offense in clash vs. Texans

Field Level Media

September 21, 2023 at 3:45 pm.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will attempt to get their stagnant offense moving when they host the Houston Texans on Sunday in an AFC South battle.

The Jaguars (1-1) squandered many opportunities during last week’s 17-9 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence is still disappointed with the club’s execution.

“I don’t think any player on offense played anywhere close to their best game,” Lawrence said during Wednesday’s press conference. “We have a group that recognizes that. There is nobody who thinks they played great on Sunday and is above anybody else.”

Jacksonville went 0-for-3 on red-zone opportunities and once had first-and-goal from the Kansas City 1-yard line in the fourth quarter before settling for a field goal. Also, there were four occasions — two each by Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley — in which a receiver was unable to get two feet down in the end zone.

Jaguars coach Doug Pederson is expecting a much-improved effort against the Texans (0-2). His offense ranks 21st in scoring (20 points per game) and 22nd in total offense (306.5 yards per game).

“I know it’s early, but we’re running out of the early excuse a little bit,” Pederson said Wednesday. “We need to get it addressed pretty quick. … It’s got to be a now mentality. Obviously, we got to continue to work to improve.”

Said receiver Christian Kirk: “We need to look ourselves in the mirror and be very harsh on ourselves.”

Lawrence has passed for 457 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in two games, the first being a 31-21 road win over the Indianapolis Colts.

His life could be made easier if the Texans are without cornerback Derek Stingley. Stingley’s status is up in the air due to a hamstring injury Wednesday. After an MRI, the team fears Stingley could be out multiple games, according to reports. He was placed on IR after nine games as a rookie in 2022 because of a hamstring injury.

Lawrence’s favorite target in the red zone this season, Jones didn’t practice Wednesday with a knee sprain.

The Jaguars routed the host Texans 31-3 in Week 17 of last season to snap a nine-game losing streak against Houston.

The Texans now feature a new quarterback in rookie C.J. Stroud, and the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft is coming off a banner game.

Stroud completed 30 of 47 passes for 384 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 31-20 loss to the Colts. His strong performance came with Houston missing four starting offensive linemen.

“This kid is made of all the right stuff,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said of Stroud at Wednesday’s press conference. “Happy to have him on board — our team is happy to have him on board. We just have to play complimentary football around him.

Stroud has thrown for 626 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t been intercepted despite dealing with soreness in his passing shoulder.

The former Ohio State star said the Jacksonville defense rates as a huge test.

“Great defense all the way around,” Stroud said Wednesday. “They play very well together. We definitely need to be on our ‘A’ game and know where they’re at and try to execute the best we can.”

Despite Stroud’s strong start, the Texans ranks 29th in scoring at 14.5 points per game.

Houston is hopeful star left tackle Laremy Tunsil will return after sitting out versus the Colts due to a knee injury. The three-time Pro Bowler was a limited practice participant on Wednesday.

“He had an issue with the knee. He got it fixed,” Ryans said. “Got treatment around the clock. We’ll see how he feels as the week progresses.”

Safety Jimmie Ward (hip) also was limited but is expected to make his Houston debut. Ward spent the past nine seasons with San Francisco and followed Ryans to town in the offseason after the former 49ers defensive coordinator was named the Texans’ coach.

Three Houston players missed practice: linebacker Denzel Perryman (hand/wrist), safety Jalen Pitre (chest) and cornerback Tavierre Thomas, and Stingley left the workout with his leg injury.

Safety Antonio Johnson (hamstring) and nose tackle Folorunso Fatukasi (shoulder) missed practice in Jacksonville on Wednesday. Star pass rusher Josh Allen (shoulder) and safety Andrew Wingard (shoulder) were limited.

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