The Texans have plenty of good they would like to carry over from the Chargers win

Offensive line and second down success here to stay?

@HoustonTexans

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet as the Texans are 2-1 readying themselves for Kyle Allen and the Panthers.

Offensive line stands out for the right reason

Daniel Jeremiah is the Chargers color analyst for radio as well as the top NFL draft analyst for NFL Network. He was really impressed with the Texans offensive line which featured rookie Tytus Howard at right tackle and rookie Max Scharping at left guard.

The improvements were clear. Yes, Deshaun Watson had a few times where he had to use his magician-like escape powers to get away but the cold hard stats don't lie.

Week 1 at Saints: 6 sacks and 11 QB hits

Week 2 vs Jaguars: 3 sacks and 7 QB hits (Worth noting four days later Jacksonville had NINE sacks in a game)

Week 3 at Chargers: 2 sacks and 6 QB hits

The rushing game lacked consistency and success but the line has shown the ability to get it going already this season.

Last year I opined for the Texans to put together a game where the line did two things well. Most games last year featured acceptable run blocking OR acceptable pass blocking. Even if they had put it together for one game in 2018 it wouldn't have looked good, just average.

The top end for this offensive line is higher than any Texans line since they had multiple Pro Bowl linemen in Duane Brown, Chris Myers, and Wade Smith.

"Everybody got thrown on yesterday"

When I asked O'Brien about Johnathan Joseph getting targeted a lot in the second half, his response covered his whole secondary.

"I mean, everybody got thrown on yesterday," he said. "When you play Philip Rivers and you have the receivers that they have, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, (Travis) Benjamin. I think everybody was targeted at some point in time. He did a good job spreading the ball around."

O'Brien was confident Joseph would clean up any mistakes that he shouldn't have made in the game.

"I think J-Jo he's been a great pro here for a long time. I think that he'll watch the tape and he'll know there are certain plays that he can improve on just like everybody."

Some of these plays, Keenan Allen makes on anyone. There are still times when Joseph gets a little too far off a wideout for it to be comfortable to watch. It will be interesting to see if defenses start attacking him earlier in the game because the Chargers seemingly found him later rather than earlier.

Joseph did pass Terrence Newman for third all-time in passes defended. He is 12 away from Ronde Barber and 18 away from the all-time leader Champ Bailey.

Lonnie Johnson played "decent" according to O'Brien. The head coach harped on Johnson's use of his hands downfield and how he needs to focus on cleaning that up in his game.

Second down success

My good friend Sean Pendergast did the leg work on something I was thinking about during the game.

The Texans under O'Brien have been historically conservative if first down doesn't go their way. Just two weeks ago they ran a draw play on 2nd and 11 in Saints territory when they were trailing by just three.

Against Jacksonville though they were more willing to throw, but possessed varying levels of success in doing so.

For Watson to have such an incredible day throwing on second downs when the yardage would be considered long, that's a great day for him and a testament to where the Texans feel they can go on offense. O'Brien finally has enough pieces, and protection, he can rely and trust his team to take these risks and make big plays.

"Running the ball was tough yesterday," O'Brien said.

He mentioned they run a unique rushing attack and with that they see a lot of exotic looks against them in trying to stop the run.

O'Brien said the defenses they saw yesterday had them adjusting their second and long gameplan to what we saw and praised the team for executing it well.

Will this offensive line start again this week?

I was very skeptical about the Texans starting offensive line. I was concerned with the lack of work those players had received at the positions they were playing on Sunday but both held up well.

O'Brien explained Monday each Max Scharping at left guard and Tytus Howard at right tackle worked at those positions in some fashion ahead of the week leading up to the Chargers. He mentioned their work up to this point had been affected, to some point, by injury. He also said adding Laremy Tunsil took any need for Tytus Howard's left tackle work to continue.

As for going forward, barring injury, it seems.

"Max (Scharping) played pretty well. Tytus (Howard) played pretty well at the right tackle spot. This is the way we're going to go right now I think these guys are gelling pretty well together."

What will the Kyle Allen show look like in his second start of 2019?

Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen looked every bit the part of starter as he diced up the Arizona Cardinals yesterday to the tune of four touchdowns on 19/26 passing totaling 261 yards. That, however, is the paltry and poorly coached Cardinals defense. They were atrocious in trying to stop Allen.

Allen was benched at Texas A&M and after transferring and becoming the starter in Houston he was benched again. He went undrafted before signing with the Panthers. He played well in one start last season before leaving with an injury. Then, suiting up for Newton Sunday, had the above mentioned performance.

Though not a rookie, he has a rookie-like setup to his career so far. He has played very little. Historically Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has blasted first-time starters. Gardner Minshew had some success in week two late against the Texans but even then the Jaguars only scored 12 points.

I bet that sack felt as good as almost any sack in J.J. Watt's career

J.J. Watt split two sacks and had one of his own for a two-sack performance on the day. It was the 30th time in 107 career regular season games Watt had at least a sack. That's almost 30 percent of his career.

Watt had not shown up on the stat sheet a ton through the first two weeks. In fact, last week I mentioned it was statistically the worst two-game stretch of his career. Well, he got going plenty on Sunday and for the Texans sake, I hope he keeps it going.

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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