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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Houston gets back in the win column

Astros end six-game skid thanks to a gem by Greinke

Zack Greinke tossed a gem Saturday night. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After the Mariners roared back Friday night to get a walk-off win over the Astros, dashing their hopes of ending their losing streak, Houston tried to even the series with a win on Saturday night with their ace Zack Greinke on the mound. Greinke would do his part, throwing a terrific game, and the Astros would squeak out one run, which was enough to get back in the win column.

Final Score: Astros 1, Mariners 0

Astros' Record: 7-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Chris Flexen (1-1)

Plenty of hits, but only one run

Although the Astros were racking up hits against Chris Flexen, they had little to show for it. Eight different batters would notch ten hits against him, but the only time it amounted to a run was on a two-out RBI-single by Taylor Jones in the top of the fourth, giving Houston a 1-0 lead.

Greinke spins a gem

Luckily for them, Zack Greinke was making it look like that would be enough. He cruised through the Mariners all night, allowing just four hits while giving up zero runs along with six strikeouts, one of which moved him past 2,700 on his career. He could have attempted to finish the complete-game shutout, but at 91 pitches after eight, Dusty Baker opted to bring in closer Ryan Pressly for the ninth. Greinke's final line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 91 P.

Houston finally ends their losing streak

With the high-leverage save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered to hold on to the one-run lead. He would do his job, finishing off the win for Greinke and putting an end to Houston's disappointing losing streak.

Up Next: The third and final game of this series will get underway at 3:10 PM Central on Sunday. Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 13.50 ERA) will look to make a rebound from his disappointing first start with the Astros, while the Mariners will start Nick Margevicius (0-1, 7.04 ERA).

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