Barry's View

Off the top of my bald head: Poor effort all around in Texans loss to Colts

Bill O'Brien and the Texans had no answers with Deshaun Watson out. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

I wasted a beautiful fall afternoon inside with the roof obviously closed, watching garbage.

Thousands of Texans fans came disguised as empty seats. Either it was Astros World Series Parade hangover, or they realized what they were about to see without Deshaun Watson.

A terrible excuse for an NFL game.

These were the Colts.

The Dolts.

The team with the 31st ranked defense in the NFL.

Sure, it was tough on Coach Bill O’Brien to lose the Rookie of the Year candidate, incredibly talented, mature beyond his years Deshaun Watson, just a few days before Sunday’s game.

Tom Savage is who he is: below mediocre.  Great kid, teammate and father.  But a bad excuse for an NFL backup quarterback.  

There was not enough WD 40 to get rust off the four-year veteran. It took him a total of 136 passes over four seasons to finally throw his first touchdown pass

Savage, who started the game completing 9-of-28 passes, finished 10-of-his-last-16.

“I’m not going to give you the politically correct answer and say blah blah blah we can get better," he said. “No, I have to make the throws. I played like crap. That’s what it is…It’s probably the most frustrating game of my life."

The biggest cheer in the first half, prior to the fumble recovery for a touchdown, was for the Astros. The Texans showed a montage tribute to the champs, with George Springer on the field with the World Series Trophy. You would have thought that Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus magically returned to the game in full health with the thunderous ovation.

The Texans did not dominate either line. What was critically missing from the ground game was the 40 yards from Watson, along with the manner in which defenses schemed without his presence. This clearly puts the Texans at a huge disadvantage.

T.Y Hilton got five passes for 175 yards and the only two scores. The first he ran by Jonathan Joseph; whose best days are behind him. He then outsmarted Kareem Jackson for another and generally wrecked the game for the Texans. Cornerback Kevin Johnson said in the quiet locker room “is why we lost the game.”

Jackson, the nine-year veteran corner from Alabama, still has egg on his face with the replays being shown. Hilton took a dive to avoid being tackled on a long third-quarter catch, and then decided it was best to take his time getting up. It was a great call, because by playing possum, Texans safety Andre Hal took him for a non-threat and strolled right past him, allowing Hilton to get back up untouched and waltz into the end zone to extend the Colts’ lead.

The half empty stands at NRG could not take it anymore, heading to the exits.

You play to the whistle. That is a cardinal rule in sports.  I guess the combination of coaching from Nick Saban and O’Brien has yet to sink in.

The secondary obviously is at a disadvantage with all the injuries up front.  Regardless, basic things like tackling, taking the proper angles and not letting  Hilton look like a combination of Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin or Paul Warfield will lead to losses.

Through three quarters, Savage was 8-of-26 for 81 yards and a 40.7 rating. When the Texans got the ball at their 25 with 9:12 left after Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard field goal, Savage was a different quarterback.

It took the Texans six plays to go 75 yards, with the payoff coming on Savage's 34-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who made an outstanding catch in the end zone against double coverage. There was 6:11 remaining.

Savage was 4-of-4 for 64 yards on that possession, and he looked like a new and improved quarterback. The Steel Blue diehards awakened hoping for an early Christmas present. Were they still hungover from the Astros parade?  Where they smoking some great stuff from Colorado?  Or were those still left on NRG just delusional?

Did they forget that Savage holds onto the ball too long and reads coverages wrong? That he threw wide three times and three times into triple coverage?

With the clock ticking down, after a pair of completions, Savage let too much damn time run off the clock.

The moment was too big for Savage.  He must have majored in drama in college and studied Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true” when he stated the obvious at the post-game press conference “I played like crap.”

"Everybody's got to be faster," O'Brien said. "Get the call in as fast as we can, and we have to get lined up faster.”

The two-minute drill was horsefeathers.  Held onto the ball too long.  Should be bang bang plays.

He failed to execute.

"It starts with me and goes from there,” O’Brien said. “In that situation, you're saving that (last) timeout for a key fourth-down call.”

He is right.  It’s up to the quarterback to execute, to run the two-minute drill, regardless if you are a second stringer.

This is Football 101.

There were many chances before the final seconds for the Texans to wake up and play like pros.  Too many dumb penalties, poor tackling, and -- of course -- Savage happened.

While it appeared for the umpteenth time, the postgame remarks appeared to be yet another dose of O’Brien Coach speak 101. "I really don't want to hear any BS about clock management. I really don't want to hear it this week."

Billy O is right.  Savage proved what we all know; he is a Not Ready For Prime Time player in the NFL. He failed to spike the ball, then held on too damn long.  The ball must come out quickly.

On the final series, on second down he threw high and out of the end zone to Stephen Anderson.  Winners throw the ball low. On third down he failed to read his progressions, throwing to D-Hop on the left while Will Fuller was open after beating press coverage. Fourth down he never gave his team a chance, fumbling the ball away under pressure.

It gets worse next week as your 3-5 Texans face the 6-2 Rams in LA.

By the way, Colin Kaepernick is still a viable option.  Are you listening Bob McNair??

Chirp!

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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