TEXANS OBSERVATIONS

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans 20-13 win over Buffalo

Jonathan Joseph had the game-winning pick 6. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans like things the hard way. I’m talking about making three lefts instead of making one right hard. I’m talking trying to assemble anything from Ikea without instructions in the dark after taking six shots hard. The 20-13 win over the Bills was about as dirty as a win could feel. Here’s how I saw things:

The Good

-JJ Watt got his seventh sack of the season today. He’s rounding into form. However, my concern is that these sacks are coming against subpar offensive lineman.

-Alfred Blue has been the team’s most consistent runner outside Deshaun Watson. He averaged 4.5 yards a carry today on only six carries. His decisiveness, vision, power, and pass blocking makes me wonder why he hasn’t gotten more playing time.

-Jonathan Joseph picked off Nathan Peterman and took it to the house to put the Texans up 20-13 with 1:23 left in the game. The old man showed it’s all about the preparation. He read the comeback route and knew Peterman was going to it. That was a pick six from the moment I saw him break on the ball.

The Bad

-Negative plays in scoring range continue to plague this team. Early in the second quarter saw DeAndre Hopkins (yes, you read that right) throw incomplete on first down, Lamar Miller lose five yards on a second down run, then Hopkins gain 12 on 3rd & 15 and settling for a field goal. Bill O’Brien’s play calling may not be the best, but neither is the team’s execution.

-Speaking of O’Brien, he chose not to use any of the three timeouts after the Bills got a turnover with 39 seconds before the half. What made the decision even more baffling was LeSean McCoy losing five yards on first down. That could’ve gotten the Texans an extra possession before the half. Maybe that’s not his job and I’m assuming it is.

-Shareece Wright got beat badly on a 16-yard touchdown by Zay Jones to put the Bills up 13-10 early in the fourth quarter. It was a double move that Wright bit on and made Jones/Peterman look like an All Pro receiver/quarterback combo. It’s the kind of play that highlights the depth woes at corner.   

The Ugly

-Jadeveon Clowney tackled Chris Ivory by one of his dreadlocks and it came out! I was nervous about it being called a horse collar penalty. The sheer pain of being pulled down by your hair and having it come out makes my skin crawl. And this is coming from a bald guy.

-Watson looked really timid in the pocket today. Sure his protection is not the best, but he was indecisive and got himself hit several times. He was also sacked seven times for 35 lost yards. Some of those sacks were the line’s fault, but a handful was his fault. He should have run with the ball a few times, but decided to look for the big play down the field instead.

-One of Watson’s picks came when they were in scoring range, up 10-0 right before halftime. He scrambled outside the pocket after breaking away from a sack and launched a ball into the end zone where the safety was waiting on it like a fair catch punt. Had he simply thrown the ball away or run then slid, the score could’ve been 13-0 heading into the half and the momentum would have shifted more in their favor. Instead, it gave the Bills hope.

Watson continues to get hit. The run game hasn’t looked the same for the third game in a row. Cornerback depth, as well as offensive line play, will be an Achilles heel for this team until next season. Despite all of this, the team is on a three game win streak and find themselves possibly back in the playoff hunt. With the Jags banged up and the Titans not proving to be anything special, the division isn’t out of reach. But the way this team has played, I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet.

 

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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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