Barry's View

Off the top of my bald head: A look at the aftermath of Chiefs-Texans

Barry Warner has different views on things. Barry Warner

Barry Warner is a veteran broadcaster who can be heard on SportsMap 94.1. His columns appear on Mondays.

The unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs came to Houston on a short week to play the precocious rookie De Shaun Watson and the Texans defense led by JJ Watt. I spent some time in the NBC booth before the game with Al Michaels and Cris Collingsworth. Both were excited about the matchup and to see the rookie quarterback passed up by the Browns and Jets, just to name a few.  No analyst spends more time researching tape than Collingsworth, who was amazed at both the kid's arm, poise and adjustment in such a short time. Al’s biggest hope was that the Clemson star would stay grounded and not become a diva. I told him that will never happen. This winner is special as a person and will have a similar impact in future years as J.J. Watt.

At his Pro Day at Utah in 2005 Alex Smith was a perfect 50-for-50 passes with no ball coming close to hitting the ground. In a first for pro scouts, they all applauded his efforts.  Of course, that was without a rush.  Last night at NRG it must have felt the same with linebacker Whitney Mercilus lost for the season with a torn pectoral. Five plays later, Watt fell to the ground attempting to rush Smith. The air was sucked out of NRG as he was taken to the hospital. He is done for the season.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year played three games last year and in five games this year. That adds up to 8 of 32 games.

Jadeveon Clowney moved down from linebacker to a pass rusher but was not a factor and the Chiefs rolled 42-34.

Big night for Smith vs. Texans DBs

Smith is shedding the “game manager” tag and is the MVP through five games.  With no pass rush to worry about, the mobile veteran was 29 of 37 for 234 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Travis Kelce, the best tight end in the NFL this season caught 8 for 98 yards in just the first half before leaving with a concussion.

GM Rick Smith McNair stunned folks around the league extending the contract of safety Andre Hal. The safety takes worse angles than a dyslexic kid in advanced geometry.  Marcus Gilchrist proved he is a journeyman at safety. Father Time has caught up with corners Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson as the secondary was Swiss cheese all night.

Andy Reid may be the best play caller in the NFL with the utilization of multiple formations and talent.

Secret weapon

The unsung hero is the well- traveled Assistant Head Coach Brad Childress, who has one of the most unique jobs in the NFL. Most of his time is spent analyzing college spread offenses and options.  They are then adapted to the various plays that Reid calls to set up defenses and eating up chunks of yardage.  The touchdown to De Anthony Thomas as he came across the formation for an easy touchdown with no Texan defenders close was an example of Childress’s input.  That made it 32-20. Moments later the Texans not so Special Teams let Tyreek Hill return a punt for 82 yards untouched.

Time of possession was a joke.  Smith and the Chiefs had 38 minutes compared to the Texans at just 22 minutes.  The game was not nearly as close as the final, with many of the Texans points coming in garbage time. Justin Colquitt punted for the first time at the 7:18 mark of the third quarter.

A six-point game became a 19 pointer.

Watson a positive

Once again, the winner from Clemson showed why giving up two draft picks was a steal.

Watson led the offense with 27 second half points against the best team in the NFL. He has thrown nine touchdown passes in the last two games.

Never the same?

As a member of the media, we have the opportunity to see the best of the best when covering a game.  Regardless of the outcome, it is a privilege to be paid to watch Hall of Fame performances, even by the opposition playing a Houston team.  

Watching J.J. Watt from his first snap as a rookie through three seasons as the Defensive Player of the Year, has been like covering legends like Earl Campbell, Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Clyde Drexler, Calvin Murphy, baseball icons Nolan Ryan, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. Their careers ending in the respective Hall of Fames for their sports.

There is no doubt that Watt once again will go through another season of grueling rehab and once again wear jersey number 99.  But he will NOT be the same player, reduced to a mere mortal, ending up in the Hall like the abbreviated careers of Sandy Koufax and Terrell Davis.

It is doubtful he will ever receive any award other than Comeback Player of The Year, if he can stay healthy.

 That is too sad for all football fans.

 Chirp.

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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