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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NASCAR is coming to Texas! Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s an All-Star weekend for the NASCAR Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. As most fans know, this race is extremely different from what we see on a usual Sunday. This race is an invitational event featuring the winners from the 2021 and 2022 seasons with a few qualifiers including past champions and past All-Star winners over the last ten seasons. As it does every year, the format for this race has changed. It will be divided into four stages, and the winner of each of the first three stages will take up the first three spots on the grid (as long as they finish 15th or higher). The final stage will be fifty laps and if there is no caution between laps 15-25, then the yellow will be thrown to stack everything up. Probably the most important and intriguing change to the format won’t take place on race day, but during qualifying. The field will be given one lap and the fastest eight will advance to the final round, where they will each face-off head-to-head in a bracket. Each paring will have a mandatory pit-stop before exiting, and the first car back to the finish line moves on. This is a unique way of deciding who starts where, I would not be surprised in the slightest if it comes back somewhere down the line in the future

Last week, Kurt Busch went on to score his first victory of the year. It didn’t come easy for the 2004 champion, he had to fend off Kyle Larson and his brother Kyle Busch. The race was marred by numerous tire failures, as it seemed drivers could only go 25-35 laps before running into an issue. Luckily for Kurt, the cautions fell at the right time and he was able to manage his tires as he dominated the race by leading a race-high 116 laps. This was the first win for the #45 car at 23XII racing, as now both Busch and his teammate Bubba Wallace both have victories. While it’s been a frustrating season for this team, this win couldn’t have come at a better time.

While Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan celebrated their team win, Stewart-Haas racing was on the opposite end of the spectrum. All four of their cars finished outside the top ten, including their franchise driver Kevin Harvick. It’s worth noting that despite the disastrous day that he had, Harvick could bounce back with a respectable 15th-place finish. This team has a lot of questions regarding the future of their driver lineup. We know that next season Aric Almirola will retire, but after that who will fill the seat? Will it be their reserve driver Ryan Preece? Could it even be Kyle Busch? With these types of disappointing results from Harvick, many have wondered if he might decide to retire at the end of the 2022 season. This will be a team to follow in the coming months.

As we reach the dog days of summer, the infamous silly season is right around the corner. This is when the rumors start to become louder and louder about who will go next season and what rides will be available. As I mentioned earlier, Kyle Busch is easily the biggest question on the grid, with Mars leaving at season's end, can Joe Gibbs racing find him a sponsor to keep him in the #18 Toyota? There were reports on Thursday that the team was in negotiations with a “major tech company” to sponsor the car for one season. It’s clear that re-signing the two-time champion is the number one priority for Joe Gibbs and Toyota. TRD Executive David Wilson stated that losing him would be, “Unacceptable.” It will be interesting to see this story develop.

With that, the driver I have winning the All-Star Race this weekend is none other than Kyle Busch. Overall, it’s hard to find active drivers with better stats here at this track than him as he’s won here four times, the most among the field. He’s also led over 1,069 laps here, almost more than double the amount of the next closest driver (Martin Truex Jr with 674). When Jimmie Johnson stepped away from the sport in 2020, it was clear that the torch was handed over to Kyle as the best driver at this racetrack. He will be the driver to beat for the million dollars when the checkered flag falls.

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