Jermaine Every's observations

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans win over the Dolphins

Deshaun Watson had his best game of the season. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Prime time games are a showcase. The Texans have laid some eggs in them in the past. This game was different. They smacked the Dolphins around 42-23 en route to their fifth straight victory. Here’s what I observed:

The Good

-The offense went 4/4 in the red zone and all were touchdowns. Two of those touchdowns were Deshaun Watson throwing to rookie tight end Jordan Thomas. The “red area,” as Bill O’Brien has called it in the past, has been an area of allergic reaction to this team. They took their medicine today because there was no itchiness, red eyes, swelling or puffiness in the “red area.”

-The run game looked great against a team that has given up 10,000 yards rushing in last few weeks. Miller had 133 yards and a touchdown, including a 58 yard run on the second play of the third quarter. Greg Mancz playing right guard for Zach Fulton has played exceptional. Offensive linemen don’t always get the praise they deserve. Without them, NOTHING goes right!

- Watson threw five touchdown passes this game. He went 16/20 for 239 yards, NO sacks and NO interceptions! The touchdown pass he threw to DeAndre Hopkins came on a misdirection play action pass. Maybe O’Brien and Watson have recaptured their juju from last season.

The Bad

-The Dolphins were able to run at J.J. Watt’s side effectively. This is becoming a common theme for Texan opponents. Troy Aikman made the comment during the broadcast, but this is something some have known for a while. He sets up and rushes way too wide which creates a lane.

-Whitney Mercilus continues to show up…on milk cartons. At one point in the third quarter, his only stat was a quarterback hit. He ended up posting an assist on a tackle to add to his QB hit. I’m convinced I can wear his jersey and be more productive. I’ll need a tan and add about 20 pounds, but should be just as productive.

-Devante Parker torched the Texans’ secondary for six catches and 134 yards. This type of production came from a guy who has only been active in three games this year and was the subject of trade rumors!

The Ugly

-The refs made an appearance, which is never good. Dolphins got their first score on a phantom contact to the head penalty. It took a field goal off the board, moved the ball to the 12 yard line, and allowed a slight momentum shift. Did I mention the back to back penalties on both teams following opening kickoff and re-kick, or the penalty before the half that caused the teams to come back to the field to run another play?

-Jonathan Joseph went down with a leg injury after Jadeveon Clowney’s leg whipped into his. Zach Cunninham also limped off with a knee injury. Depth is becoming an issue for this team midway through the season.

-The defense gave up 125 yards rushing on 25 carries for 4.6 yards per carry average. Good thing the offense didn’t turn the ball over or else this number would have looked worse. A division-leading team expected to make the playoffs cannot give up 4.6 yards per carry and expect to make a run in the playoffs.

5-3, leading the AFC South, and riding a five game win streak sounds good. But this team needs to keep improving upon their weaknesses and relying on their strengths if they expect to be taken seriously. This was their first dominant win of the season, and there were still some areas in which to be concerned. They can take a page from another local team and choose to #NeverSettle if they want to make a run.

 

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Houston drops first of three

Mariners heat up late to take series opener over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the playoffs just a little over a week away, the Astros started their last week of regular-season games in Seattle against the Mariners. A couple of wins against them would secure Houston's spot as the AL West's second playoff participant, with Oakland all but having locked up the first spot sitting six games in front of Houston with seven left to play. Here is a quick rundown of the opener from T-Mobile Park:

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 1.

Record: 27-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA).

Bitter end to an impressive start for McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers would take a scoreless deep late into Monday night's game. While the Astros were trying to figure out Marco Gonzalez, Lance McCullers Jr. was repeating the success of his last start, a seven-inning two-hit start against the Rangers.

McCullers Jr. allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, then proceeded to retire the next fourteen batters before a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Mariners their first hit of the night. He would go on to finish the sixth before things unraveled in the seventh.

A leadoff walk would result in a run after an error by Jose Altuve left runners on first and second, setting up an RBI-double to give the Mariners the first run of the night and a 1-0 lead. McCullers Jr. looked like he was going to cap off his night by stranding the runners on second and third after back-to-back strikeouts, but before he could get the last out of the inning allowed a three-run home run to blow the game open at 4-0. His final line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Mariners take the opener

Despite getting several hits against him along the way, Houston could not get anything substantial going against Gonzalez, who would shutout the Astros over eight innings of work. After Enoli Paredes finished the seventh, Brandon Bielak would take over out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth.

He struggled mightily, loading the bases with no outs, including a hit batter before allowing a two-RBI single to extend Seattle's lead to 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the top of the ninth, getting a two-out double by Carlos Correa, who would score on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick. That would be too little, too late as the 6-1 score would go final as the Mariners took the opener, keeping the Astros' magic number at two.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. On the mound will be Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Astros and Ljay Newsome (0-1, 6.35 ERA) for the Mariners.

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