Browns 10, Texans 7
5 observations from the Browns' 10-7 win over the Texans
The good news? The Texans defense played one of its better games. The bad? The offense played its worst. The result was an ugly, bad weather 10-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Texans fall to 2-7 on the season and there is absolutely zero left to play for in 2020. Five observations from the loss:
1) Deshaun Watson has to be the best quarterback on the field for the Texans to win games. That was barely the case in this one. Baker Mayfield was not good, but Watson missed throws and did not make many plays in key situations. While he didn't turn the ball over, he also did nothing until late in the fourth quarter to get his team points. Watson's two sacks were clearly on him, and he had under 90 yards passing heading into the fourth quarter. The wind was clearly a factor, but great players overcome that. On Sunday, Watson did not.
2) Hey, at least they ran the ball better. Duke Johnson gave the Texans better play at running back than David Johnson did all year. It still wasn't great, but at least he made some plays and had 54 yards on 14 carries. Still not good enough, but at least he was not a complete zero like his predecessor. This has to be a major off-season priority for the team; finding two serviceable running backs. But Duke's performance just underscored how awful David has been.
3) The defense did its part. The Browns were going to get yards on the ground against the Texans because everyone does. They piled up 213 yards on 41 carries and as usual, the defense wore down in the second half and could not stop the run to give the offense one last chance. But holding the Browns to 10 points should have been enough to win the game. J.J. Watt had a solid game, and the secondary had its best performance of the season. It probably helped that Mayfield was inaccurate for most of the contest, but the defense did not give up big plays until Nick Chubb's clinching burst at the end. It should have been enough.
4) Zach Cunningham has become a bright spot. After signing his big deal, Cunningham started off the year in horrible fashion, with bad mistakes, being out of position and stupid penalties. He had a lot of tackles, but many were empty, down-the-field types and he was not being a playmaker. But the last two weeks, he has looked like the player they are paying him to be. He is stuffing plays, flying all over the field and not making mistakes. It's interesting he has played better since Tyrell Adams replaced the injured Bernardrick McKinney. The Texans have very few players on defense that will be part of their rebuilding process. They need Cunningham to be one, and he is starting to look like he can.
5) Romeo Crennel's coaching was a lot like that guy before him. Going for it on fourth down inside the five early in the game proved to be costly when a chippy field goal would have tied the game. Then choosing a field goal on fourth and two late in the game (and of course it was a miss) showed inconsistency in his decision making. Your kicker should be able to make that, but the wind being such a factor, it was 50-50 at best. And for the Texans, it was the wrong side of the coin. And in the first instance on fourth down, the whole world knew the QB draw was coming. They needed a better play call. He also burned two timeouts in the second half that were desperately needed late.
The bottom line: In the end, the Texans and Browns aren't that much different. The Browns are a phony 6-3, the Texans are a well-deserved 2-7, but theses teams are pretty close. Watson should have been the difference for Houston, but in the end, he and the offense did not do enough.