GIANTS 27, TEXANS 22

Another bad loss for the Texans in the home opener

J.J. Watt had a big game. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

Once again, the Texans dropped a game they could have won and are now 0-3 on the season. This time it was the New York Giants beating them 27-22 in NRG Stadium. The story of the game was the continuing lack of first half offense and a high number of penalties. Today’s total was 7 penalties for 50 yards. Four of those were false starts by the offensive line. The score at halftime was 20-6 in favor of the Giants and Houston managed only 160 total yards of offense at the break.

Defensively the Texans struggled to get off the field. The Giants scored points on their first four drives of the game putting the Texans in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Saquon Barkley led the way on the ground with 82 yards and a touchdown on the way to a huge time of possession difference. The Giants held the ball for over 35 minutes while Houston had it for only about 24.

Things turned around in the second half. The defense was able to apply more pressure up front and forced New York into four consecutive punts. J.J. Watt looked more like the player we were hoping he would be, getting three sacks (one was a strip of Eli Manning) and making another huge tackle for loss. He finished the day with eight tackles and was a disruptive force.

The Texans secondary was once again vulnerable. Manning finished the day 25 of 29 for 297 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 132.3 quarterback rating. Offensively they added another 115 yards on the ground for a total output of 380 yards. The Giants played most of the game with a huge lead and it never looked close.

While Deshaun Watson finally got the offense moving in the second half with 249 passing yards and 2 touchdowns; it was a crucial interception he threw in the third quarter that halted a promising drive deep in Giants territory. That was Houston’s second drive to end on a turnover as a Lamar Miller fumble ended the previous one just outside the red zone. It was those lost opportunities to score that kept the Texans from having any chance to come back in this one.

Ka’imi Fairbairn was 3 for 3 with a long of 54 yards today, which gave Houston its early points. And once again Will Fuller proved he and Watson have a great connection as he hauled in another touchdown among his 5 receptions for 101 yards, getting the score within 5 points, 20-15. The Giants came right back and made it 27-15 on a pass to Sterling Shepard. The scoring ended with a short Watson pass to Lamar Miller getting the Texans to 22 points, but the Giants were able to run the clock out and end the game.

 

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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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