3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet after the Texans beat the Patriots and get ready for the Broncos.
Jacob Martin finally breaks out
For context. In 2018, among edge defenders with 250 pass rush snaps. Jerry Hughes was number #1 with a pressure rate of 0.20— TexansCap (@TexansCap) November 25, 2019
.17 would put Martin in Top 5. https://t.co/tccbB4zcaF
Jacob Martin had a big day for the Texans against the Patriots. I'm not breaking any news there, but as the above stats indicate this was finally a game he put it all together. The Texans desperately needed it too. Not to say he wasn't helped out, the rest of the line had their fair share of pushes and even Bradley Roby got a sack, but Martin was giving the Pats fits all night.
He has a lot of speed and Bill O'Brien mentioned as much when he said he sees Martin going "100 mph" and lauded his practice routine. This is what the Texans hoped for when they added Martin. A young player, under team control, that can grow into a key role player for this defense. I am sure he is slightly ahead of schedule in that regard.
Oh, and for the folks keeping track at home, Jacob Martin is healthy and a half a sack off Jadeveon Clowney's sack total on the year. Yes, Clowney plays Monday and can add to it, but he's dealing with a core injury that is expected to limit him.
.@DukeJohnson_8 runs in the @DeshaunWatson pass to put the @HoustonTexans ahead! #WeAreTexans— NFL (@NFL) December 2, 2019
📺: #NEvsHOU on NBC
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/cH1BAKocj5 pic.twitter.com/t25wDu432t
This type of game is what we all envisioned from Duke Johnson when the Texans sent what is now a third round selection to the Browns. Up until this point Johnson hadn't put together a ground and air game that impressed at the same time. Last night he ripped off 90 total yards. It was his highest yardage total since week one in New Orleans. He was also targeted in the passing game a season-high six times.
If this is the Johnson the Texans are going to get going forward and the Carlos Hyde-led ground game is going to pick up watch out for what the Texans offense could be. Bill O'Brien intimated Monday Johnson's involvement was in the gameplan and if that is a mainstay going forward we maybe have just scratched the surface on Johnson's actual usefulness.
No general manager, no problem for me
Look, tell me the Texans have been managed poorly under the Bill O'Brien and company general manager leadership group and I will call you a liar. Plain and simple. Sure, there has been a hiccup or two, but the situation has been overwhelmingly positive so far. The Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade pays off week after week while additions like Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson have played well. The reshaping of the secondary on the fly through injuries has been impressive as well.
Is it the worst idea to let this crew operate a draft? No. You will know right off the bat if they can get it done though. It's not like they could hire Nick Caserio before the draft anyway so unless they were going elsewhere with that hire the current system was set to run free agency and the draft anyway .
I would be worried about the money. There is a possibility for a tremendous spend this offseason with Deshaun Watson potentially getting a new deal, Tunsil hunting money, and D.J. Reader and Bradley Roby expiring on the defense. I also expect J.J. Watt to want an adjustment on his deal.
Brian Gaine was a bargain hunter, I don't anticipate the current administration to be similar. The Texans have the money, and it leads to the star wideout, quarterback, left tackle, and pass rusher getting locked up for a few years there is nothing wrong with that.
Should the Texans try to get Bradley Roby locked up?
#Texans safety Bradley Roby (@BradRoby_1) had a pick & a sack & dedicated the game to his late grandfather Cleo Bush who passed away.Bradley went to his funeral Saturday: “I promised him &..myself that I’d make some plays.He was blind.He never saw me play.Maybe he can see me now” pic.twitter.com/Ul7m1NmxVN— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) December 2, 2019
Bradley Roby has been as advertised in his role with the Texans. He is physically gifted and the flashes of first round talent are apparent in his play. Sure, there has been an issue here or there and he was hurt for a while but he played excellent against the Patriots.
I don't want to overreact to one good game, so let's see how he plays against his former team as well as the other games left on the Texans schedule. He is certainly on his way to achieving what he set out to do when he signed with the Texans. Roby intended to take a one-year "prove it" deal and enter free agency again hoping to cash in.
The right number might entice Roby to alter his strategy but it would be prudent for the Texans to see what else he can do this season now that he is healthy.
Can J.J. Watt come back? Sure. Will he?
Think you’ve seen the last of #Texans star JJ Watt this season? Think again… Sources say Watt could return for the playoffs and Houston is saving an IR/to return spot for him 😳🤯. My story: https://t.co/18gehFxRaZ— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 1, 2019
I don't believe J.J. Watt is going to play again this season, regular season or the playoffs, but I would be happy to be wrong. His pectoral injury doesn't seem like it is anywhere close to as serious as the one Whitney Mercilus suffered in 2017. The thought and rumor was Mercilus was healthy enough by the end of the season, if the Texans had been in contention, to play.
It would stand to reason the same could apply to Watt. If by some chance he could return in week 17 for instance, the team could ease him back into the game and then ramp up his snaps in the playoffs for as long as they go.
Watt is third in QB Hits according to Pro Football Focus. He is the only player who has played in less than 10 games in the top ten. He obviously could help the Texans. For Watt though, there is a lot of risk.
There is no more guaranteed money on his contract. If he was hurt again that could hinder negotiations but at the same time a healthy-ish Watt could cause chaos and drive his tag way up. It is quite the risk if it gets to the decision.
As for the rumors, Bill O'Brien decided to take a pass on addressing it.
"I'm not going to get into all those things...we really need to focus on Denver."
I bet the Broncos are fired up to be playing with Drew Lock
Drew Lock’s first TD pass made extra special by Courtland Sutton. pic.twitter.com/nyYOXHyRyk— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) December 1, 2019
Drew Lock looked like more than a capable passer at times in his NFL debut against the Chargers. He hit Courtland Sutton twice for a score but passed for just 164 yards. He threw a really bad interception that almost cost the Broncos horribly in the second half. Not bad though for his first NFL action that matters.
There's life though. He is clearly the team's quarterback next year and there are young pass catchers who need to grow with him like Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton, and fellow rookie Noah Fant. There's obviously still some talent on defense there as well. The Broncos are a live team compared to plenty of other teams who look like they've quit on their season.
O'Brien was emphatic on Monday he doesn't care about Denver's record he believes them to be a good football team. What I believe O'Brien has to drive home this week is the Texans beat the Patriots, but don't let beating the Patriots beat them against the Broncos.
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Phoenix All-Star Devin Booker and Houston rookie Cam Whitmore got into a minor scuffle midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night and both players were called for a technical foul.
With a couple big blocks on the ensuing possession, Suns center Jusuf Nurkic was there to back his star teammate.
Booker scored 35 points, Kevin Durant added 24 and the Suns held off the Rockets 110-105, with the teams set to meet again in Phoenix on Saturday night.
Nurkic had 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out. His biggest moment came in the fourth, when he stuffed Whitmore twice on the possession following the scuffle, drawing huge roars from the Phoenix crowd.
“Very important — that's the team sticking together,” Booker said. “That goes a long way. That's what you need when things get tough, it gets to the thick of things and the energy is high. You want to know you have people on your team that are built like that.”
Booker scored 20 points in the first quarter to help give the Suns an 18-point lead they would never relinquish. He has scored at least 20 points in an NBA-high six quarters this season.
Three-time All-Star Bradley Beal missed his fifth straight game because of a hamstring injury.
The Suns took an 86-75 lead into the final quarter. Houston cut the advantage to six midway through the fourth, but Booker responded immediately with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to nine.
That led to the brief skirmish between Booker and Whitmore. Tempers stayed hot over the next few minutes — Houston's Alperen Sengun fouled out and then got two quick technicals, earning an ejection.
Booker hit both of the technical free throws, Nurkic followed with his two free throws from Sengun's foul, and that pushed the Suns' lead to 99-84. The Rockets would cut the lead to four with 16.9 seconds left, but Royce O'Neale hit two free throws to end the threat.
Jalen Green led Houston with 34 points. Fred VanVleet added 21. The Rockets connected on just 11 of 45 3-pointers and shot 33.3% from the field overall, which was their worst percentage of the season.
“It wasn't one of our better nights as far as guys getting open looks and making the extra pass,” Rockets coach Ime Udoka said. “We had a few guys who had it going, but a few guys who were struggling.”
Phoenix has won seven of its past 10 — and nine in a row at home — as it tries to stay in the top six of the Western Conference playoff race and avoid the play-in tournament. The sliding Rockets have lost eight of 10.
“We're getting confident in this building,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said.
Booker's big first quarter pushed the Suns to a 33-17 lead. The four-time All-Star made 8 of 10 shots from the field, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Phoenix settled for a 64-53 halftime lead. Booker had 26 points before the break while Green led Houston with 21.