Inside View

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans' 33-17 win over Cleveland

Deshaun Watson can do no wrong off the field. Matt Patterson/Houston Texans

Jermaine Every will be providing Texans commentary from every game.

The Houston Texans beat the Cleveland Browns today 33-17. While scoring thirty or more for the fourth straight game is awesome, Texans fans need to temper further expectations due to the fact that this came versus Cleveland and a quarterback making his first career start. Here are some observations:

The Good

1) Bill O’Brien’s play calling has been tremendous with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. I love the usage of read option play action passes and the motioning of a wide receiver into that action to create even more misdirection and confusion. Braxton Miller scored on a shovel pass by going into motion on read option play action. DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown pass off a similar play; so did Will Fuller.

2) The front seven played well. Not as well as they should against a team like the Browns, but well enough considering the injuries and relative inexperience of the guys replacing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. (D.J. Reader and Carlos Watkins are in years two and one respectively, while vet Lamarr Houston was signed earlier in the week. Brennan Scarlett played well also.)

3) Speaking of Fuller, his ability to stretch the field has been huge. That dynamic, along with the threat of the run game, created some openings underneath for tight ends and backs who accounted for six catches and 88 yards receiving.

The Bad

1) Dylan Cole appeared to have suffered a serious hamstring injury. As an undrafted rookie linebacker, he’s been a pleasant surprise, especially since Brian Cushing went Lattimer from The Program again. In my opinion, his play has made Cushing more expendable. Hopefully, it isn’t as serious and he can return soon. But a towel on the head riding a cart is never good.

2) Watson is still a rookie quarterback and makes rookie mistakes. A perfect example was his interception while extending the play in fourth quarter on a play action rollout. He has to learn to throw the ball away, or run and get down.

The Ugly

1) Missed tackles are this team’s Achilles heel. I stopped counting at 10, which was somewhere in third or fourth quarter. The Kansas City Chiefs took advantage of this last week. Luckily the Browns couldn’t. Moving forward, good offensive teams will take advantage of this and break big plays. This team can’t afford that with lack of pass rush already an issue, compounded by a defensive back group that has been subpar.

2) Tackle Chris Clark went down with a calf injury. When Kendall Lamm came in, they ran to the left and lost three yards. Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett took advantage and recorded a sack vs. Lamm as well. This isn’t a good look when you’re counting on a rookie quarterback to carry the torch for your team. I don’t care how mobile he is, this could get ugly.

All in all, this was a much-needed win coming off last week’s heart-breaking loss to the Chiefs. A win heading into the bye week before playing at Seattle can do some good. This team has some building blocks to become successful and reasons for fans to be excited. Let’s hope the “next man up” philosophy prevails with all the injuries because the AFC South is still winnable.

Finally, a shout out to Deshaun Watson rocking the Warren Moon Oilers throwback. The kid seemingly can do no wrong off the field.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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