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
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.