HOUSTON (AP) – Houston defensive end J.J. Watt shook his head and scoffed when asked if it will be difficult to get motivated to play the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Despite preseason expectations, the Texans are in no position to take anyone lightly. They enter this weekend’s game desperate to break a franchise-record eight-game skid.
“We’re doing everything we can to try and get this thing on the right track,” Watt said. “Obviously, everybody is frustrated, but frustration isn’t going to help us. We’re not going to get anywhere by packing it in and we’re not going to get anywhere by being down in the dumps. All you can do is put in the work to find a way to win.”
Houston (2-8) and Jacksonville (1-9) have the two worst records in the AFC and are taking up the bottom spots in the AFC South. The difference between the two squads is no one really expected the Jaguars to do much this year, while the Texans were predicted to contend for a Super Bowl.
Watt said that doesn’t change the way he feels about this season.
“To me, it doesn’t matter what expectations are,” he said. “I can’t stand losing either way. Whether people predicted us to be high, predicted us to be low, I can’t stand losing one time. I definitely can’t stand losing eight times in a row.”
The Jaguars, who picked up their only win two weeks ago against Tennessee, figure the Texans will get things together eventually. Their fingers are crossed it isn’t this week.
“They just haven’t clicked yet and maybe this is the week that they click, hopefully not,” Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne said. “Hopefully we get an opportunity to play well against them, but teams are going to have their issues.”
Five things to know about the Jaguars-Texans game:
JOHNSON VS. JAGS: Houston receiver Andre Johnson had the best game of his career in his last meeting with the Jaguars. Johnson grabbed 14 receptions for 273 yards, both career highs, in Houston’s 43-37 overtime win last season. Johnson is having another solid season despite Houston’s struggles and is fourth in the NFL with 966 yards receiving.
GETTING SHORTED?: Jacksonville receiver Cecil Shorts was unhappy after being targeted just five times in the team’s last loss, and said he thought more balls should come his way. Shorts leads the Jaguars with 629 yards receiving this season. Henne said they discussed the situation and that Shorts “understands where we’re coming from.”
“Cec has never come up to me and said anything bad or why am I not getting the ball? We addressed all of that the last couple of days,” Henne said. “Cec has always been a team player and to hear a comment like that, we addressed it. Everything is fine.”
SECOND-HALF WOES: The Texans have led at halftime in each of their last three games, only to be outscored a combined 51-16 in the second half and lose all three. Guard Wade Smith said if he knew why they have struggled so much in the second half he would have told the guys and they would have gotten it turned around.
“We’ve made a concerted effort to try and come out there and do better in the second half,” he said. “Bottom line, we haven’t been executing, especially in the third quarter. When you don’t execute in this league you won’t be successful.”
JONES-DREW STRUGGLING: Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew has had a tough year on a team averaging an NFL-worst 61.7 yards rushing a game. The three-time Pro Bowler has just 455 yards rushing and a career-low 2.9 yards a carry. The lowest yards per carry Jones-Drew averaged before this season: 4.2 in 2008. Jacksonville’s running game has certainly been hurt by problems on the offensive line, notably a season-ending injury to second overall pick left tackle Luke Joeckel in the fifth game.
ON THE CASE: Coach Gary Kubiak decided to stick with Case Keenum as his starting quarterback despite benching him in the third quarter of Houston’s loss to the Raiders. Kubiak said he pulled Keenum, who spent last season on the practice squad, because he didn’t want to put the undrafted free agent in a bad situation that could hurt his development. Kubiak said he has complete confidence in Keenum, who was a record-setting quarterback at the University of Houston. Keenum has thrown for 992 yards and eight touchdowns with one interception in four starts since taking over for veteran Matt Schaub.