COMING OUT ON TOP

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 31-21 win over Arizona

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 31-21 win over Arizona
Jadeveon Clowney played like a superstar. Houston Texans

The Houston Texans’ up and down season continued with a 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals at NRG Stadium. Now 4-6 on the season, the Texans aren’t completely out of the hunt for a playoff spot, but it’ll truly be an uphill battle.

The Good

-Bruce Ellington took advantage of the opportunity of more playing time in the absence of Will Fuller. He had 6 catches for 63 yards and some key third down conversions.

-DeAndre Hopkins leads the league in touchdown receptions with 9. While only twp have come from Tom Savage, they looked to have found some chemistry against the Cardinals.

-The run defense was stellar. They held the Cardinals to just 45 yards and a 2.8 per carry average. Benardrick McKinney amd Jadeveon Clowney both had 2 tackles for loss each. Their best play came on a 4th and 1 from Cardinals 34 yard line where they dropped Adrian Peterson for a loss.

-D’Onta Foreman got some consistent carries. He responded by going for 65 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 carries.

The Bad

-No way Blaine Gabbert should have had a career day throwing 3 touchdown passes. The pass defense continues to disappoint as the coverage and pass rush just isn’t cutting the mustard.

-Savage’s ball security is alarming. He had another strip/sack/fumble today. Granted, it was due to a nickelback blitz coming against the awful right tackle Breno Giacomini, but he’s got to do better protecting the football.

-Kevin Johnson went out of the game and will be in concussion protocol. Johnson may not be a top notch cover guy, but he does an adequate job. His biggest contribution may be his hitting, which apparently may have caused his concussion. This is just another in a seemingly laundry list of injuries for the Texans this season.

The Ugly

-Giacomini’s pass blocking at right tackle has been abysmal. He’s a clear sign of what happens when you wait until late in free agency to address a deficiency and there’s nothing but two day old bread left in the bakery.

-Jonathan Joseph has seen his best days of being a reliable cover guy pass him by. He routinely has been getting beat lately. The worst play came against rookie tight end Ricky Seals-Jones. Seals-Jones had about an 8-10 yard cushion on a simple 11 yard out route touchdown catch. We’re talking about a rookie versus a respected veteran.

-Foreman had his breakout performance as a rookie, but his season may be over. On his second touchdown run, he went to the ground not too long after crossing the goal line. Looks like it may be an ankle or lower leg injury. Any time the cart is brought out, it typically means trouble.

On the day the Texans induct Andre Johnson into the Ring of Honor, they also managed to keep their season alive. Getting contributions from guys like Ellington, Foreman, as well as usual suspects Clowney, McKinney, and Hopkins, this was a good win against a beatable opponent at home in front of a crowd that may have come mainly for the halftime festivities. The season may be on life support, and the pastor is still at the hospital to pray with the family expecting the worst, but there’s a glimmer of hope.

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Following Houston's 6-4 road trip, the Astros returned home to finish the first "half" of the season before the All Star break hosting Florida and Texas. Houston's road trip was filled with clutch performances in New York, dominance in taking 3 of 4 in Toronto, and a dose of close calls and tough realities with a short-handed team against Minnesota.

Now the Astros hope to take care of business against the lowly Marlins and division rival Rangers. The Texas series, in particular gives Houston the opportunity to reassert their hold on the #2 spot ahead of the Rangers who have won their last 5 games in a row (as of the time this was published). Both teams have won 7 of their last 10 games and hope to catch a free-falling Seattle team to overtake the division lead.

Dana Brown told the media last week he expects both Justin Verlander and Kyle Tucker to be reactivated following the All-Star break but Tucker's updates continue to be more promising than Verlander's and MUCH more promising than Lance McCullers. Astros manager informed the media this week that McCullers has been shut down from throwing after his arm did not respond well to his recent bullpen sessions and the team is formulating the plan for what's next for the embattled pitcher. McCullers hasn't pitched since the 2022 postseason and underwent season-ending flexor tendon surgery last June. McCullers is under contract with Houston until 2026.

An eventual return for Kyle Tucker would spur a juggling act from Joe Espada to find a proper balance of time for all his outfielders, none of which have separated themselves offensively. Chas McCormick had a great month of June recording an .804 OPS but that run looks more like an anomaly as his scuffles have continued over the past 2.5 weeks, recording just 4 hits over his last 32 plate appearances.

While Jake Meyers has wowed fans and teammates with his glove this season, his offense has hit a skid, hitting just .184 with a .565 OPS over the past month. After rookie Joey Loperfido's torrid debut, he too has struggled with the bat, hitting just .216 with .599 OPS over the same time period.

An unexpected bright spot has been the recent play of first baseman Jon Singleton. Over the last 4 weeks, "Big Jon" is batting .302 with an .802 OPS. It's worth mentioning that Singleton's season numbers are better than Florida's Josh Bell, who drew interest from Astros fans over the past several seasons as a potential answer at first base. Bell has 135 more ABs this season so its not quite an apples-to-apples comparison but there's no doubt Singleton's contributions were sorely needed following the release of Jose Abreu.

To watch part 1 of this week's episode of Stone Cold StrosStone Cold Stros, just click the video above or to listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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