Texans 30, Jaguars 14

5 observations from the Texans win over the Jaguars

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The Texans played their first game of the post-Bill O'Brien era against Jacksonville on Sunday. Not surprisingly, it was their best effort of the season, and they picked up their initial win, beating the Jaguars 30-14. Five observations from the victory:

1. The offense looked better. Yes, it was a Jaguars defense down several key players. But Deshaun Watson had big numbers (25 of 35 for 359 yards and three TDs), but also threw two picks, one on a bad pass before the half, the other a bad decision throwing deep into double coverage trying to hit Will Fuller. That's not a play Fuller is capable of making. Still, the play calling was noticeably better. Again, it was the Jags, but they had a season high with 30 points and just looked more comfortable and in rhythm.

2. Brandin Cooks had his best day as a Texan. Cooks had 8 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown and was especially effective in the second half. Early in the game, Cooks and Watson did not seem to be on the same page. But as the game wore on, Cooks started making plays. The Texans need him to step up, and he finally did.

3. The Texans got turnovers! Well, sort of. Jacksonville fumbled on a weird fourth and one call that was not going to succeed with or without the fumble. It was the first Texans turnover in their five games. The second turnover was a thing of beauty and was a player making a play. Jacob Martin got a strip sack that Whitney Mercilus recovered, then tried to give back, but the Texans pounced on it. The defense overall did a better job against a Jaguars team that kept shooting itself in the foot with missed field goals and the odd fourth-down call. The Texans were also much better against the run, allowing just 75 yards and a 3.8 average, and were especially effective in the second half. Bradley Roby had a holding call, but he is quietly having a nice season, as he did a lot of good work against D.J. Chark.

4. The running game still needs work. They did better in this game, with 129 yards on 22 carries for a 5.9 average, but they also struggled to open holes, and David Johnson got a lot of yards late in the game when it had already been decided. Still, the running game was an advantage for the Texans for the first time all year.

5. The defense got some pressure. They technically had four sacks, although one was the botched fourth down play. But they consistently pressured Gardner Minshew, which helped the secondary. Minshew did throw for over 300 yards, but had to put the ball up 48 times to do it and many of the yards were after the game was decided.

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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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