ALL THE BLAME CAN'T FALL ON O'BRIEN, WATSON HAS TO STEP UP

How a win in Pittsburgh could drastically shift a popular Texans debate

Franchise quarterbacks win games like this. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Let's be honest, the schedule makers in the NFL didn't do the Texans any favors to begin the 2020 season. They've faced the toughest schedule in football through two weeks opening up on the road in Kansas City against the defending Super Bowl champs and then against a Ravens team that went 14-2 last year with the reigning MVP in Lamar Jackson.

Mix in a global pandemic that eliminated OTAs, most padded practices, and all preseason games and it's understandable why the Houston offense has only averaged 18 points per game. However, It doesn't get any easier on Sunday though for Houston as they will travel to Pittsburgh for a matchup against the 2-0 Steelers. Nobody will feel bad for the Texans though. The time for excuses is over and the Texans need to get a win.

"We've got a long way to go. We've got to get going here this week," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said. " We've got to score more points than the other team. We've got to get going, so it's not where we want it to be quite obviously but we're working hard to get it better."

Despite what O'Brien might think, it doesn't take a genius to recognize that the Texans need to 'score more points than the other team.' O'Brien certainly deserves a large amount of blame for the offensive struggles. He's an offensive-minded coach that has never had a top 10 offense in first six seasons as the teams head coach, and he traded away the best wide receiver in football in DeAndre Hopkins but I don't need to remind Texans fans of that.

"Nobody wants to be in this position," O'Brien said about the 0-2 start. "We just have to improve and try to basically let's just everybody, coaches, players alike, try to do the next right thing. Get the call. Execute the call. Make sure we're on top of everything, substitutions, and all that. Eliminate turnovers and line of scrimmage penalties…Same thing offensively, we've got to be more consistent. We've got to stay on the field. We have to work hard to get better."

O'Brien obviously bears a lot of responsibility, but he isn't alone. Deshaun Watson has to start playing better too. Watson was paid a four-year, $156 million extension that averages $39 million annually so even after losing his best weapon in DeAndre Hopkins, the expectation is that Watson even with a shaky offensive line can raise the level of play of everyone around him. Including the new guys at wide receiver brought in to help replace the production of Hopkins.

That's what a franchise QB does. Period.

"We just keep continuing to build chemistry," Watson said. "We didn't have an offseason. It's a whole new receiving core except for (Kenny) Stills and (Will) Fuller (V), but bringing those guys along and just getting on the same page. What are those guys good at? What am I good at throwing with those guys? Just trying to continue to build that chemistry and that trust within each other. That's coming along well. Sometimes it takes time and we've just got to not get discouraged and just keep pushing forward until it actually takes off like we want it to."

Unfortunately for Watson and the Texans, time is not on their side anymore. If Watson doesn't start playing like a franchise quarterback, the Texans very easily could start 0-3. Through two games, Watson has thrown just two touchdowns and has two interceptions. Watson also has a pedestrian QBR of 55.1 which ranks 20th among quarterbacks. Beating the Steelers who boast arguably the NFL's best defense and have a healthy future hall of fame QB in Ben Roethlisberger isn't an easy task but this is why you pay Watson all that cash. You are supposed to have a chance in any game with #4 under center.

"We're just worried about doing what we need to do out there on Sundays and playing our best football," Watson said. "We'll see what the outcome comes. That's all we can do is just put our head down and grind. Just work and try to do what we do and see what the outcome comes like. Of course, we don't want to be 0-3, but that's not the main thing that's on our minds right now."

He's right. You don't want to be 0-3.

It's on Watson to make sure that doesn't happen.


Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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