TEXANS 27, JAGUARS 25

5 observations from the Texans 27-25 win over the Jaguars

Photo by Getty Images.

If only the Texans could play the Jaguars every week, they would be much better than 2-6. In a sometimes entertaining game between two really bad teams, the Texans were less bad and escaped with a 27-25 victory in Jacksonville. Five thoughts on the game:

1. Stop us if you have heard this before: The Texans running game was awful once again, although it was probably a benefit that David Johnson was knocked out early. Duke Johnson wasn't much better, but at least he created a few extra yards on plays that had no chance. But the only real positives in the running game came from Deshaun Watson, who rushed seven times for 53 yards (not including kneel downs). And the Texans defense was gashed again by the Jacksonville running game. Failure to run and failure to stop the run have been consistent issues all season.

2. Deshaun Watson is quietly putting up big numbers. Watson was sacked twice, but he completed 19 of 32 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and hit two big plays to Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller, although the second should not have counted. The refs missed a blatant delay of game call, and the Texans took advantage. For the season, Watson is on pace for over 4,000 yards, 30 TDs and 10 interceptions. Watson has not thrown an interception in four of his last five starts. Teams are not supposed to be 2-6 when their quarterback puts up those numbers.

3. A quick answer. For just the second time in two years, the Texans scored a touchdown on their opening drive. Deshaun Watson hit Cooks for a 57-yard touchdown, answering Jacksonville's opening score to tie the game at 7. The only other time they scored on the first drive was Week 17 last season against Tennessee, when A.J. McCarron got the start. This has been a serious issue for the Texans, and it was critical they scored early, especially after letting Jacksonville get an early 7-0 lead.

4. A pretty clean game. The Texans had just three penalties (one an intentional delay) in the game and one turnover on a Duke Johnson fumble. They did not win the turnover battle as both teams had one, but there just were not a lot of mistakes and it made a huge difference.

5. The defense had its moments, but mostly bad ones. They weren't good, but they came up with an interception, a key fourth down stop in the fourth quarter, and played just well enough to win. Zach Cunningham has had a lot of empty tackles this year, but he had a solid game. The Texans were missing Bradley Roby, Whitney Mercilus, Jonathan Martin and lost Brennan Scarlet to injury during the game. Considering who was out there, they did OK, although they allowed the Jags to march down the field in the last few minutes to have a shot to tie it, but they at least stopped the 2-point conversion. A good defense would have had a few more turnovers, because the Texans dropped two relatively easy interceptions. But the Texans are not a good defense. On Sunday, they were less bad than usual, and it was enough for a win.

The bottom line: These were two bad teams, and the Texans are just a little better than the Jaguars. It is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme, but at least the Texans gained some separation from the axis of evil bad teams that are winless or have one win.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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