Now my job: Texans win AFC South 3rd place game

Photo by Getty Images

Whenever you think about how bad things are, always remember, they could be a lot worse. This is how I choose to look at the Texans' 27-25 win over the Jags. At 2-6 now, the Texans have a firm grip on 3rd place in the AFC South and are only three games behind the Colts for not only 2nd place in the division, but also the 7th and final playoff spot. Glass half full is the look I'm going for here. Stay with me.

The coaching staff had a decent gameplan on defense, but there was a lack of execution several times by the players. The idea to bring pressure and give rookie quarterback Jake Luton different looks worked to a degree. There were a few times he looked skittish, but not as often as you'd think a 6th round pick making his first career start would look. He was able to go 26/38 for 304 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble (they recovered), a run for 13 yards, and was sacked twice.

One of the plays that I'm referring to about lack of execution was the 73-yard touchdown pass Luton threw to DJ Chark on their opening possession. Vernon Hargreaves was supposed to be in a deep third coverage since the call was cover 3. Instead, he either confused his assignment or the playcall itself because Chark ran right by him and Luton made the easiest touchdown pass of his career thus far. Richard Sherman did the exact same thing on October 16, 2016 against the Falcons. He made up for it later with an interception when he played his deep third in another cover 3 call. Despite the play not coming his way, he was in the right place at the right time.

I noticed the defense got away from applying pressure with the blitz, yet they still couldn't get home by rushing four. J.J. Watt looked fairly average. He looked more himself when he was able to strip sack Luton, but it took him until the 6:26 mark in the 4th quarter to make an impact play.

The offense looked disjointed and as if it didn't have a clear direction in which they wanted to go. I was happy to see some deep balls thrown, and completed. The Brandin Cooks 57-yard touchdown was more about his speed and downfield blocking, but the crossing route is what got him open. I wanted to see more deep balls and crossing routes, as well as more spread and no huddle. We got very little spread, and the only no huddle we got was right before halftime when Deshaun Watson appeared to have called it after he scrambled inside the 5 yard line. The ensuing play was a Duke Johnson rushing touchdown. Whether it was Watson calling it on the fly, or Tim Kelly, I liked the move. There needs to be more motion and misdirection pre-snap. This offense isn't that supremely talented to the point they can line up and force their will upon anyone. Using whatever extra tricks they can come up with would help.

Watson is playing very well. 19/32 for 281 yards, two passing touchdowns, two sacks and 50 rushing yards on 10 carries was a heck of a day. No interceptions for the third consecutive game for Watson as well. This team should have a much better record with a quarterback having his kind of season. Again, I think this offense could use more razzle dazzle. David Johnson being hurt meant Duke Johnson got more snaps. I'm interested in seeing how they move forward if David can't go and Duke is the featured back.

Overall, it wasn't a bad day by the coaching staff, but it wasn't all that great either. I'd give them a solid C. To get back to .500, they have to beat the Browns, Pats, Lions, and Colts. Not a daunting task, but it won't be easy. One game at a time.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Yuli Gurriel had a monster night at the plate Friday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

Although they lost the series 2-1, the Astros ended their road trip with a nice win over the Yankees to head home on a positive note. On Friday, they welcomed in the Toronto Blue Jays and former teammate George Springer, currently on the IL, to start a three-game series and long homestand. They had an excellent night at the plate, along with a strong start from Jose Urquidy, cruising past the Blue Jays to take the opener.

Final Score: Astros 10, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 17-15, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (3-2)

Losing Pitcher: Ross Stripling (0-2)

Jays strike first, then Houston responds and never looks back

It first appeared that Urquidy may be in for a long night, giving up two solo home runs early in Friday's game, one to Bo Bichette in the top of the first with one out to put Toronto up 1-0, then another to Danny Jansen in the top of the third. However, Urquidy would lock-in, and his offense would back him up strongly.

Houston ended up sending nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the second, getting two runs on a homer by Carlos Correa, then later loading the bases to set up an RBI walk by Alex Bregman. In the bottom of the fifth, with a one-run lead at 3-2, Yuli Gurriel expanded the lead to three runs on a two-run shot.

Gurriel went on to have a fantastic night, going 4-for-4 at the plate with 4 RBI. His third of those came in the bottom of the seventh, extending the lead again with an RBI single to make it 6-2. Kyle Tucker made it a five-run game that same inning with an RBI double, then more insurance came in the bottom of the eighth. They reached double-digits that inning, with Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Yuli Gurriel, his fourth of the night, all getting an RBI to make it 10-2.

Urquidy finishes seven, then Emanuel finishes it off

Those gave Urquidy plenty of support, though he would bounce back after the two early homers and have a nice night on the mound. He allowed just two other hits, working around both, en route to a seven-inning two-run performance to earn him the win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 84 P.

He likely could have gone longer, but Dusty Baker turned the ball over to Kent Emanuel to wrap things up with the significant lead. He did so, despite allowing a two-run home run to former-Astro Teoscor Hernandez in the top of the ninth to make the score 10-4. The win kept the Astros above .500 and two games back of the A's, who sit atop the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be a 6:10 PM start Saturday night. The pitching matchup will be Steven Matz (4-2, 4.78 ERA) for Toronto and the electric Cristian Javier (3-0, 1.75 ERA) for Houston.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome