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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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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