BARRY LAMINACK

Kevin Johnson's loss may be no loss at all for Texans

Perhaps the most frustrating thing to come out of last Sunday's 27-20 loss to the New England Patriots was the play of starting cornerback Kevin Johnson. His inability to be anywhere near the ball and do his job effectively stood out to me more than anything else on Sunday.

He looked lost out there; like he didn’t belong.

I went so far as to say on Twitter, during the game, that he should never be allowed on the field again.

What I didn't anticipate was shortly after my tweet hit the web that Johnson would suffer another concussion, an injury that would necessitate him being placed on IR (but according to Aaron Wilson on Twitter(@AaronWilson_NFL): "...he can be designated for return.”)

First things first, I feel horrible for Kevin Johnson. I would never wish injury on any player, especially such a serious and dangerous injury like multiple concussions. All my best to Kevin for a full and speedy recovery.

That said, it still doesn't change my mind about his role with the Texans. I think at this point it’s time to move on from Johnson, and the Texans have plenty of options that will allow them to do so.

To fill the roster spot the Texans went out and signed journeyman cornerback Shareece Wright. Wright started five games last year for the Bills, so it’s not a total Shock that Brian Gaine reached out to him.

But even with the signing of Wright, the Texans have a ton of other options already on the roster that can be moved around in the secondary.

Johnathan Joseph is pretty much staying put, but Aaron Colvin could slide to the other outside corner position (and I’ll go as far as to say now that I think by the time the year is up, he’ll be the best corner on the Texans).

If the Texans like Colvin covering the slot, they could move Kareem Jackson back to corner and give some reps to highly regarded rookie Justin Reid at safety. Heck the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu often moved up from his safety position to play some corner when he was in Arizona.

So don’t worry about the secondary Texans fan, I think they’ll be fine.

Spend all of your time worrying about that o-line. Yikes!

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

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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