LANCE ZIERLEIN'S Z REPORT

It's too early for O'Brien and Watson's struggles to create panic

Deshaun Watson will get better. At least he should. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I’ve had two days to talk on the radio, answer texts, and sift through tweets about the Texans loss to the Patriots in week 1. Texans fans definitely aren’t happy, and with good reason. The Patriots are now 10-1 lifetime against the Texans averaging 32.5 to the Texans 19 in those games. Ass-Kickings, Incorporated.

Yes, it was “SOT” (same old Texans) once again. Yes, once again Bill O’Brien failed to handle his business when an important game management situation presented itself. You don’t care about the team if these things didn’t bother you on Sunday and didn’t leak over into Monday.

But some of what I’m hearing? Wow! Just hit YouTube for some old school hip-hop and search “EPMD” and “Chill” and you’ll get to where you need to go because, baby, this sports life might not be for you based on some of the rhetoric and analysis I’m hearing.

Watson never got comfortable

Look Deshaun Watson just had an off game. It happens. We know O’Brien didn’t have a good game, but his quarterback didn’t either. He struggled to get through reads and find his targets with the same quickness that we saw at times last year.  He also got caught throwing from off-platform angles (basically means he’s off-balance and feet weren’t set) which caused throws to drop short of their target.

Watson was also hesitant to make his decisions on where he wanted to go with the football. This isn’t a huge surprise given the fact that he was making just his seventh start in the NFL and playing in just his eighth game. No quarterback is a finished product in their seventh start. None. And when you have to face a Bill Belichick-coached team with the entire season to prepare for you? Forget it.

I had someone tweet to me that Bill O’Brien needed to do a better job of calling plays to get receivers open. The job of the receiver is to get open. Pass plays are designed to create stress on defensive backs with their route combinations, but it’s still the receiver’s job to get open the same way it is Watson’s job ot make reads and throws. It’s O’Briens job to call the best plays for the personnel on the field and for where the Texans advantages are.

R-E-L-A-X

Here are the facts:

  • Deshuan Watson was playing his first game in 8 months.

  • Deshaun Watson had limited reps in the preseason and looked rusty.

  • Deshaun Watson was making just his seventh career start.

  • Will Fuller, the defensive field stretcher and big play talent was hurt (again).

  • O’Brien and Watson combined to average over 34 points per start in 2018.

  • O’Brien and Watson combined for 21 total touchdowns last season.

Being pissed at O’Brien for the game management issues and the inconsistent performances of this team are completely understandable. Pretending that game one of 2018 matters more than the previous seven games that O’Brien and Watson had together is just nonsensical. ESPN analyst and former Pittsburgh Steeler safety Ryan Clark said the Texans shouldn’t do what Bill O’Brien tells them. He seemed to intimate that Watson’s off game was on O’Brien. Guys…. It’s one game.

Can we let Deshaun keep growing? Can we at least get to get two or three? This may not turn into a winning season and O’Brien might get show the door sooner rather than later, but Watson had a bad game and it’s going to get better.

It better.

 

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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion!

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