Texans 26, Jaguars 3

10 observations from Wembley Stadium on Texans-Jaguars in London

Fred Faour

It was not always pretty. But it was dominant. The Texans came to London and knocked off the Jaguars 26-3. It was their best defensive performance of the season, even without J.J. Watt. It was also my first experience in London, along with the Texans. It has been magnificent. You can read more about the actual experience on Wednesday, but here are 10 observations from the Texans win over the Jaguars:

1) Watson playing at a high level

One of the cool things about going to this game was I got to sit next to a friend from London who was attending his first NFL game. He asked what to watch for. I said, "No. 4 for the Texans, and No. 10."

After a few early magical escapes, my friend said "my goodness, he is amazing. What a lovely player." (Insert British accent).

He was amazed, and wants a Watson jersey now. Yes, we have seen bigger stat games from Watson, but this was outstanding. He was sacked once but escaped many others and made one amazing play after another. He threw for just 201 yards, but completed 22 of 28, had two touchdowns and an 86.0 Total QBR. He also rushed for 37 yards on seven carries and did not turn the ball over. He is becoming better and better, and most importantly did not have that bad decision at the wrong time. He is growing up before our eyes.

My friend nailed it. Watson is a "lovely" player.

2) The not so good

Seven penalties, mostly on offense, almost derailed things. The first drive they were moving the ball well and wound up with a first and 35 thanks to two penalties. They had to settle for a field goal. That was about the only negative of the day. Well, one more...

3) Impact day for Hyde...and one blemish

Carlos Hyde had one of those days where if you looked at the box score, you would say "wow." He had 160 yards on 19 carries. Yes, he was solid, but much of that came on a 58-yard run late in the game...where he was stripped of the ball just outside the goal line for a touchback. It was the Texans only turnover and briefly cost them points. The Texans picked off a pass on the next play and would go on to score, taking Hyde off the hook. He was solid before that run, but that burst inflated his numbers. The fumble wound up not hurting, but against the opponents to come, that can't happen.

4) Run stoppers

The Texans are pretty good against the run. Leonard Fournette is pretty good at running the football. The Texans won this one, holding Fournette to 40 yards on 11 carries. QB Gardner Minshew added 34 yards on 4 carries for a total of 74 yards on 15 carries. The 4.9 average looks good, but the reality is the Texans controlled the line against Fournette, and dared Minshew to beat them through the air. He couldn't.

5) And against the pass....

Romeo Crennel had a really good game plan. Force Minshew to beat you through the air. He did put up 309 yards, but on 27 of 47 passing. Crennel was willing to allow some pass plays, gambling that Minshew's lack of accuracy would stall the team.

It worked.

Minshew was sacked three times, and after a very clean three quarters, threw two bad interceptions in the fourth quarter. Crennel had been playing for those mistakes, and they finally happened.

6) That overall defense...

So yes, they gave up yards, 356 to be exact. But they held the Jags to three points (it should have been six; the Jags botched a field goal try). They also forced four turnovers, all in the fourth quarter. They held the Jags to 4-of-13 on third and fourth down combined. The Jags were 0 for 1 in the red zone. Results wise, this was the best defensive performance of the year. They played bend-but-don't-break perfectly.

7) O'Brien does it again...

It's been hard to criticize Bill O'Brien the past few weeks, and we won't do much here. But the clock management at the end of the first half...They wound up trying a 57-yard field goal and failing, but had they managed things better and gone for a TD as opposed to playing for a field goal, they could have come away with points. It wound up not mattering, but still...It will in tighter games.

Having said that, he called a very good game on offense against a terrific defense, and it made all the difference.

8) Secondary getting well

Gareon Conley led the team in tackles and defensed two passes; Briean Boddy-Calhoun had a sack; Jonathan Joseph returned and had four tackles, defensed one pass but also got beat several times again. Still, with a week off, the group could look much different if Bradley Roby, Tashaun Gipson and Lonnie Johnson return. The fill-ins played well. They should be better once the others return.

9) No Tunsil, but...

Left tackle Laremy Tunsil was not able to go, and Chris Clark replaced him and had a penalty but otherwise was functional. Titus Howard returned at right tackle and looked like he had not missed a beat. With a week off, and Tunsil's return, the Texans offensive line should be just fine.

10) A great time at Wembley

The Texans leave with a 6-3 mark, back on top in the AFC South. The Colts lost, the Titans lost, and of course the Jaguars lost. It was a good day all around.

The experience at Wembley Stadium was amazing. It is the most incredible place I have been for sports, and the British have really embraced American football. There were many Jags fans, or at least Pro-Jags attendees, and it was clear none of them came from Jacksonville. The Jags have done a great job of building this market. Still, you saw jerseys from every team; British fans of the sport will go to see almost any game. That is very good for the future of the sport in England.

It's also safe to say the Texans picked up a few fans as well, especially Watson. My friend wasn't the only one to see it. He is a "lovely" player.

And the Texans left Wembley with a bloody good triumph.

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As the Ronaverse continues, emotions are high. People are getting upset over the dumbest things. Maybe it is simply because Twitter has the worst people in the world, but endless topics are being "debated" that really have no reason to be questioned.

One of the oddest of these is starting to pop up as athletes opt out of returning to play among the Covid-19 shortened seasons. People are actually critical of athletes who make these decisions.

Those people are simply what we call "dumbs."

It doesn't matter what their reasoning is. Athletes - like all of us - have the option to worry about things other than their job. Simply because they have the wherewithal to take time off without pay is no reason to be critical. David Price became one of the latest this week and explained his decision well.

But they owe it to us, the fans.

Sports is not life. These athletes do not owe you anything. You choose to buy their gear and wear their numbers. That's your right. It's also their right to be concerned for their own health and that of their families.

They are young. The disease barely affects young people.

True. But if you are the one young person it does impact? And what about your parents and grandparents? Are we to fault players for caring about things like that? They are people. There are those who dehumanize them because they are famous, make a lot of money and live lives most people will never have. But that does not mean they aren't real people with real life concerns.

They make millions. It is worth the risk.

What good are those millions if you are dead? Or a family member becomes gravely ill? This should not even be a debate. Players have the right to make up their own minds, just as you do. I am not one of the Rona Paranoid Crew, but I don't rip people who are overly careful. We should all deal with this in ways we think are best. Everyone loves to throw out terms like "personal freedom" and "it's my right" when it suits their needs. In this case, it applies to the athletes.

The sad thing is not everyone can afford to stay away from work in order to survive. Many waiters, cooks and bartenders were forced to go back to work to pay bills. Many were not comfortable doing that, but they had no real choice. That sucks.

But those who do have a choice should be able to make it without facing criticism. Maybe it costs your team a World Series if a key player opts out. Or an NBA title. So what? There will be other years, other chances. That won't be the case for a lot of high school and college athletes who may never get to play again. Sure, they might be bitter that pros can sit out, while they have been robbed of one last chance at the game they love. But the Rona is not their fault. Neither is the fact that these athletes have the means to follow their principles.

What will their teammates think of these players abandoning them?

That's a fan argument. Most players will completely understand, because they, too, are human. If the season winds up shutting down halfway through or never getting started, no one will remember who wasn't there. Nor should they care.

But for some reason, people do. They have the right to choose whether toplay or not. You have the right to choose whether or not you will keep buying their jerseys. That is how freedom works.

It would be nice if we would all just allow people to make the best decisions for themselves without turning it into a stupid debate.

In today's world, I realize that is not reality. The dumbs are inheriting the earth.

So memo to athletes: If you want to be on the field, awesome, we will be rooting for you. If you believe it is not worth the risk to you or your family? Stay safe and we will see you when you feel comfortable again. Simple, right? That really should be the end of it.

Sadly, it won't be. That's not the world we live in anymore, if it ever was.

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