4 reasons the Jaguars won a playoff game and the Texans are on the couch

Duval County is the place for comebacks.

The Jacksonville Jaguars mounted a five-game winning streak to conclude the regular season and wrest control of the AFC South from the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars exemplified their comeback spirit with a 31-30 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC wild-card Saturday night.

Down 27-7 at halftime, the Jaguars continued to battle, and their hard work paid off in the club’s first postseason victory since 2017.

The last time an AFC South champion won a playoff game was in 2019 when the Houston Texans beat the Buffalo Bills 22-19 in the AFC wild-card. The Jaguars were last place in the division that season.

In 2022, the script has flipped, and here are four reasons why Jacksonville is moving on to the divisional round and the Texans are stuck on the couch.

Did not give up on the run

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It would be understandable if Trevor Lawrence threw 60 times to get the Jaguars back in the game down 27-0. However, that wasn’t the case. The Jaguars continued to feed running back Travis Etienne with 20 carries for 109 yards. The commitment to the run allowed Jacksonville to still present a two-dimensional approach to their offense and not put the entire burden on Lawrence.

How many times in Texans games did they abandon the run when rookie Dameon Pierce was producing yards? There is still a fundamental problem of trying to pass out of problems — when there is no passing game to speak of — than to use the run game to keep the defense off balance.

Invested at quarterback

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Regardless of how dysfunctional the franchise was in 2021 with Urban Meyer taking his first ever NFL coaching gig or the fact Jacksonville was last in the division since 2018, the Jaguars made an investment at quarterback. They secured the position.

Houston bungled the position starting in Jan. 2021, for one reason or another. As a result, they experimented with Davis Mills the past two seasons with little progress. Houston chose not to participate in the 2022 NFL draft’s quarterback class. However, they are officially at a point where what is holding the team back — even if it is going from terrible to average — is quarterback play.

Found a pass rusher

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Part of the Texans’ problem in the post-J.J. Watt era — or even in the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year’s last season in Houston — was the lack of pass rush. Houston didn’t have a player they could depend upon to get after opposing passers.

Jacksonville’s Josh Allen lived in the Chargers’ backfield on Saturday night with 1.0 sack and four quarterback hits. The former 2019 first-round pick also added eight combined tackles and a tackle for loss.

Houston took the approach under Lovie Smith the past two seasons that defensive line pressure could simply be coached up. It may be a good philosophy on paper, but even Smith’s Chicago Bears signed Julius Peppers in 2010, and he provided 11.0 and 11.5 sacks in 2011 and 2012.

Were serious about their coaching hire

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The Jaguars didn’t earn the No. 1 overall pick in 2022 because they avoided being a joke in 2021. They were an embarrassment with Urban Meyer being fired after a 2-11 start, the clowns, and fans wanted general manager Trent Baalke fired.

Jacksonville could have mailed it in and taken the interim tag off offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Instead they went out and gave a Super Bowl-winning coach a second chance in Doug Pederson.

Instead of deciding 2022 would be the year Houston escaped the misery, general manager Nick Caserio decided on one more year. Houston played it safe and promoted Smith from defensive coordinator to coach — even though the trade to deal their franchise quarterback was on the horizon, even though Houston had two top-15 picks and more draft capital.

The Texans chose one more year of rebuilding. The Jaguars decided theirs was over.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire