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 Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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