The passing game was stifled and the running game has struggled

Offense sputtering on multiple levels for Texans

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3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet as the Falcons are next up for the 2-2 Texans.

"He cares deeply about trying to help us win"

Bill O'Brien offered little on his quarterback staying late and working after the loss to the Panthers. Watson had one of his more inconsistent games as a pro and as you will see below he took a lot of the blame.

Crash course in Carolina defense

You can hear Deshaun Watson's annoyance at the futility the offense exhibited. The quarterback and the rest of the offense clearly knew what the Panthers approach was and yet, couldn't beat it. Watson mentions the two throws he missed that would have certainly been the biggest plays of the day.

O'Brien said after the game they called bad plays. The Panthers had allowed over 21 points on average heading into Sunday's game.

The offensive line didn't help the situation, but the offense only really having two or so chances to really beat the Panthers defense deep isn't ideal. Kenny Stills, who left with a hamstring injury, could have helped.

No kicking woes...yet

Are you worried about kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn at this point?

"No. No. I don't worry about Ka'imi (Fairbairn)," O'Brien said. "He's got a good mindset. He's had a couple kicks that have, you know, sprayed to the right on him but he'll fix it."

Last week Fairbairn missed an extra point. This week his missed a field goal and nearly missed his second attempt. The Texans moved on from their punter after two weeks, but from O'Brien's comments Fairbairn is safe, for now.

The way the Texans play, close games rarely blowing people out, they can't afford to have misses in the kicking game. There are so many teams struggling at kicking in the NFL right now there isn't a lot they can do if Fairbairn falls off. They'd do better to work on him than make a rash decision and bring in a new face.

Is the rushing attack broken after hot start?

Don't get fooled by the box score. The Texans didn't run the ball well against the Panthers.

Carlos Hyde had five rushes of his 12 go for one yard or less. 25 of his 58 yards came on one play.

Duke Johnson had 40 of his 56 yards come on one run.

If you take out Deshaun Watson's rushing production, Keke Coutee's rush, and the two long runs by Johnson and Hyde the Texans had just 49 rushing yards on 16 carries. That's a 3 yards per carry average. That would be the 30th ranked yard per carry average in football.

The offensive line didn't help Sunday, Greg Mancz was awful in filling in for Zach Fulton. Houston has to rush the ball better for the offense to get back on track.

Trouble at home?

The Texans offense is significantly less impressive at home than it is on the road.

Road PPG: 27.5

Home PPG: 11.5

Road YPG: 395

Home YPG: 263.5

Now, the Panthers are the fourth best defense in yards per game but the Jaguars are 18th in the same statistic. The Chargers are 12th and the Saints are well into the bottom half. So it isn't the opponent.

It would be interesting to know how many teams have that drastic of a difference between their home and road splits.

I bet the Texans play a shootout with the Falcons next week

I have no idea how the Texans are going to slow down Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohammed Sanu. I also have no idea how the Falcons are going to slow down the Texans. Atlanta might relish a shootout as they've been playing from behind mostly this year. Sunday they made Marcus Mariota look like a star. We know that's not the case. Deshaun Watson is a star, and should get the offense back on track in a hurry against the Dirty Birds.

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Composite image by Jack Brame.

This past weekend James Harden and Russell Westbrook combined for a total of 135 points after two tough wins. The Rockets went up against the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks and because of Westbrook and Harden, they were able to pull off two close wins in the 4th quarter.

Harden recently just surpassed Calvin Murphy for second in all-time scoring for the Houston Rockets. He is now trailing behind only Hakeem Olajuwon. Harden also passed up David Robinson on the all-time scoring list. Making him the all-time scorer for lefties in NBA history.

Besides Harden passing up legends in scoring, he was able to lead the Rockets because of his defense too. Even though Harden had a grand total of 73 points last weekend, he had a total of nine steals but six of them came against the Bucks. Harden had a 118.2 rating against the Mavericks by holding Kristaps Porzingis 1/7 in the post. He also played great defense against Luka Doncic too. Another thing Harden did, was being able to steal the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo and hold him down for the last two possessions of their matchup. He caused Giannis to turnover the ball by throwing the ball to Danuel House in the corner. That allowed the Rockets close the game out.

James Harden told Kelly Iko of The Athletic his thoughts on his defense.

When Harden got doubled by the Mavericks and in foul trouble against the Bucks, Westbrook was big with 31 points in each game. Westbrook shot 45% from the field by being relentless. He attacked the basket no matter what zone each of those two teams were playing. By Westbrook continuing to attack the basket, he was able to find his teammates out on the perimeter for open shots. This allowed Robert Covington and PJ Tucker to have better looks at the basket. Westbrook's biggest statement was when he made four big free throws to close game out against the Bucks.

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