TEXANS REVIEW

Cody Stoots: 11 observations from Saturday's Texans-Rams game

J.J. Watt looks good on the field. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

1. A lot of starters played and got some of the action they were asking for in this game. Not that many needed it, J.J. Watt looked ready to go last week against the 49ers and Tyrann Mathieu essentially came into camp ready to go. Deshaun Watson played three middling series, the last derailed by penalties, but he has had enough action and looks ready to go in Foxboro against the Patriots. 

2. Watt is far closer to the old Watt we are used to seeing as opposed to the shell of himself we saw last year before the injury. He darted past a defender and ankle tackled a running back on one play that had some holding their breath as there were a lot of big bodies there. Other times he was forcing false starts or fiddling with a blocker while the ball got out quick. It will be interesting to see if this can be a season-long explosion from him, but, there are no worries for the start of the season. 

3. Jadeveon Clowney is so strong and didn't even get to scratch the surface on what he is truly capable of in this game. The batted pass is great to see as it shows the continued evolution of Clowney and this defense. The quick passes will be a focus for opponents and Clowney and Watt will have to impact the passing game with the batted passes to counter or slow the attacks offenses use to neutralize them. Clowney had a big hand in the interception by Kareem Jackson as he was chasing and got his big paw up to change the way the play was viewed by the Rams quarterback. 

4. It was unfair to see Clowney and Watt line up next to each other. This is such a tough matchup to defend because it allows one of the rushers or run stoppers to find the inferior point of the blocking scheme quick and head for the ball. On this particular play, each earned a one-on-one matchup with Watt carrying his man downfield and Clowney disengaging to make a big hit on a running back. 

5. It will be near impossible to run on the Texans first unit this year. Though it wasn't Todd Gurley and company against the Texans defense, the Texans have shown throughout camp an ability to stymie rushing attacks. Watt and Clowney both affect the opposition differently and Whitney Mercilus has yet to play with them to really drive home how tough it will be to run on the Texans. Not to mention D.J. Reader who has looked nice in camp and Christian Covington who looks close to where he was last year when he was hurt for the season. 

6. It would have been great to see Watson play one more series as it would have had him manning the offense in the red zone. He doesn't need a ton of work there right now. Watson might be one of the best red zone quarterbacks the Texans have had, and frankly, will be the best in short order. It was nice to see Alfred Blue bounce the play out, find a hole, and punch it in. He is making the team much to the chagrin of a lot of Texans fans. With the status of D'Onta Foreman, Blue is the backup. He will need to make quick decisions and hit what holes are there for him. 

7. "Hurry back soon" Seantrell Henderson is not a phrase I ever thought I would type but here we are. The likely starter at right tackle has missed some time and Kendall Lamm has been his backup. Lamm is not a starter in this league and the dropoff to him as the swing tackle is significant. He had a holding call torpedo a drive when Watson was in the game. If Martinas Rankins was healthy from the start of camp I don't believe we would've seen much of Lamm in these spots. Rankin had some nice plays, but a miscommunication between he and fellow rookie Jordan Thomas led to the Brandon Weeden interception as the Texans backup QB had to get rid of it or he would've been smashed.

8. Sammie Coates has to be on this team. His abilities fit this team and the depth chart and when he is healthy and playing he can be used more on special teams when his services are needed there. He drew two big pass interference penalties and hauled in a perfect strike from Weeden for a big gain. The Texans need him; he's the only true outside wide receiver backup with experience. If they keep five or six wideouts, it doesn't matter, he should be on the team. 

9. Braxton Miller seems like he has made this team as well. Miller almost seems like a "when the lights come on" type of guy. His performances in games or game-like situations have impressed. I don't see a scenario where the Texans keep just five wideouts meaning with six, Miller is on the team. I'm not sure what player gets edged out because the Texans are keeping an extra wide receiver. 

10. There is a chance Shane Lechler could lose his job, but, it still seems unlikely. I believe the ideal scenario would be trying to stash Trevor Daniel some way and have him take over for the veteran next year. That's ideal though, and unlikely with Daniel playing so well. He had better positions to punt from than Lechler Saturday and has pushed Lechler harder than any competitor has in Lechler's time in Houston and even his final few years in Oakland. 

11. The reports of Kayvon Webster working out for the Texans isn't surprising. Even if Kevin Johnson was healthy the Texans haven't had anyone step up and grab the final cornerback spot. Webster is an interesting free agent. He spent time with the Broncos buried on the depth chart behind some of the best corners in the league but contributing on special teams. He played last year with the Rams but saw a ruptured Achilles end his season. If he is healthy he become an interesting candidate to be a veteran add to the 53-man roster. 

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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