JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Houston and Jacksonville have this much in common through two weeks: neither is thrilled with its offense.
The Texans (0-2) have scored 29 points, which ranks 29th in the league and is slightly better than tied-for-last Carolina, Cincinnati and Las Vegas. The Jaguars (1-1) are coming off a nine-point showing in their home opener against Kansas City and are last in the league in third-down conversions (25%).
Both teams will be looking for better results when they meet Sunday in Jacksonville.
“It’s just remembering who we are,” Jaguars receiver Christian Kirk said. “One bad game doesn’t define us. Obviously it’s frustrating. ... It just goes back to us kind of being a little out of character and just pressing and trying to make plays that weren’t there.”
Jacksonville, the defending AFC South champion, entered the season optimistic it would average 30 points a game after returning nine offensive starters, adding standout receiver Calvin Ridley and being in the second year of coach Doug Pederson’s offense.
But the Jaguars scored 17 in the opener at Indianapolis before rallying with two touchdowns in the final six minutes, the second one coming after a turnover. And they were completely out of sorts against the Chiefs, struggling to run the ball and unable to protect quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
“Just make the plays, make the blocks, make the catches,” Ridley said. “Just do what we do, honestly. We got what we need. We just need to execute better.”
Houston could say the same.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, the second overall pick, threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts last Sunday. But Stroud was sacked six times, injured his throwing shoulder and lost one of his two fumbles. Adding to the team’s offensive woes, the ground game was stagnant as Dameon Pierce managed 31 yards on 15 carries.
Stroud has been sacked an NFL-high 11 times already while playing behind a line decimated by injuries. Houston lost four starting offensive linemen to injuries in camp and played without three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) last week.
“It’s all about the protection,” Texans coach DeMeco Ryans said. “We’ve had good protection at times, and it’s not only our offensive line. It’s the backs. It’s the tight ends. It’s the quarterback. It’s the receivers. Protection involves all 11.
“We don’t want to see our quarterback get hit, but we can make smart decisions all across the board with all 11 guys.”
Tunsil returned to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday and might be able to go Sunday. Stroud, meanwhile, had “no issues” with his shoulder in practice.
“I feel blessed. I feel good,” Stroud said. “Football is a physical sport and that’s what I signed up for, but my body is fine. I’ll be all right. After Week 1, you kind of just get used to getting hit and the rehab that goes into that Monday, Tuesday, getting your body back for Wednesday and so forth so you can practice well."
Jacksonville’s defense would probably be the talk of the town had the Jaguars beaten Kansas City. The unit held Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in check most of the game and surrendered 17 points to the defending Super Bowl champion. The defense was equally impressive in Week 1, giving up 14 points to the Colts.
“We’re doing what we need to do to win every game,” linebacker Josh Allen said. “We know what we can do, but we want to put it on a divisional opponent.”
Jacksonville ended a nine-game losing streak to Houston in January. Nonetheless, the Texans have won 15 of the past 18 meetings and 20 of the past 25, a staggering stretch of lopsidedness considering the NFL’s penchant for parity.
Houston WR John Metchie III made his NFL debut last week after missing his entire rookie season while undergoing treatment for leukemia and sitting out of the opener with a hamstring injury.
He was in on about 15% of the offensive snaps against the Colts and caught one pass for 17 yards. The Texans will look to get him more involved as the season progresses, but Ryans said it will be a process.
“It was a great feeling to finally be back on the field playing the game I love,” Metchie said. “But I just feel like I’m a winner so at the end of the day I’m all about wins and losses and I’d rather be winning.”
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