Texans secondary decimated; also lose key wide receiver

Injuries pile up during loss to Eagles

Demaryius Thomas was carted off. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Texans lost more than just the game against the Eagles in Philidelphia on Sunday. Injuries mounted before and during the game helping the Eagles best the Texans in the closing moments with a field goal.

No injury will sting as much as the loss of Demaryius Thomas. He went down without contact on a screen play in the fourth quarter. He was then carted off the field, unable to put weight on his injured leg. He was officially ruled out with an Achilles injury. It is the second Achilles injury in Thomas' career. He was traded for earlier in the season to replace Will Fuller who was lost for the season due to injury.

Rookie wideout Vyncint Smith caught a touchdown in Thomas' absence hauling in a 35-yard perfectly placed pass from Deshaun Watson. Smith is the only outside receiver besides DeAndre Hopkins as the team released Sammie Coates earlier in the week.

The secondary didn't fare well either. Johnathan Joseph left the game in the second half with a neck injury and was questionable to return (though he later did). Earlier in the game Kareem Jackson left with a knee injury and didn't return to the game. Kayvon Webster, who was recently activated for this game off the Reserve/Injured list, didn't finish the game. He hurt his thigh. Earlier in the season Webster made his debut and lasted just two plays before heading to the previously mentioned list.

Starting left guard Senio Kelemete missed the game due to illness. Martinas Rankin started in his place allowing a few pressures and committing a couple of false start penalties.

Lamar Miller, the team's leading rusher, and rookie pass catcher Keke Coutee didn't make the trip to Philadelphia. Miller has an ankle injury while Coutee has been missing time with a hamstring injury.

The injuries in the secondary are very concerning as they all seem to be things that could linger beyond the week. It is safe to assume Thomas will be done for the year meaning Smith will have to step up or the team will need to find help in free agency.

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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