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?

Offensive line and second down success here to stay?
@HoustonTexans

Deshaun Watson's no look pass

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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Nationals defeat Astros, 6-0. Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images.

Left-hander Mitchell Parker threw seven shutout innings, and Luis Garcia Jr. had three singles and two RBIs and the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 6-0 on Sunday.

The Nationals have won three of their past four series after starting the season 2-6.

After allowing two runs over five innings last Monday in his major league debut, a 6-4 win over the L.A. Dodgers, Parker (2-0) was even more effective in his second major league start, allowing three hits, striking out eight and walking none, throwing 57 of his 73 pitches for strikes.

“He has so much poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "He’s ready. He gets the ball, ready to get back on the mound. I watched him today. He threw a ground ball. The play was made and he got right on the mound and was holding his glove up as if, ‘hey, come on, give me the ball, like I’m ready to get back on there’. It was cool to watch. He understands what he wants to do.”

Parker mixed his 85-87 mph splitter, 81-82 mph curveball and 92 mph four-seam fastball. He struck out Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña a combined four times. Dylan Floro and Matt Barnes each added a scoreless inning for Washington.

Parker was thrilled to be able to throw the splitter for strikes, something that did not come as easy against the Dodgers.

“100 percent, yeah," Parker said. "We were able to get in there for more swings and misses. They were more competitive pitches. Going to keep working on it, seeing if we can keep it where it is at.”

Astros right-hander Hunter Brown replaced scheduled starter Cristian Javier, who was scratched from Sunday’s series finale with neck discomfort. Javier was placed on the 15-day injured list retroactive to April 14, and right-hander Spencer Arrighetti was called up from Triple-A Sugar Land.

Manager Joe Espada said they have not decided yet on an MRI for Javier.

“Neck discomfort, started a few days ago,” Espada said. “He tried to work through it but just couldn’t happen. This kind of just came out of nowhere. So, we are going to see what happens here.”

Brown allowed three runs and three hits and a walk in the first but then settled down, lasting four innings when his pitch count reached 84.

“Even in the first I felt like made some good pitches," Brown said. "Came to the outing prepared. Kind of did what I wanted to and it just didn’t fall our way there.”

García Jr.’s two-run single to center field highlighted the three-run first inning for the Nationals.

“We try to score every inning,' Garcia Jr. said through a translator. "But definitely when we score the first inning it gives you a different kind of sense of confidence throughout the game and it carries on through the games a different feeling.”

Joey Meneses had a bases-loaded two-run single to right field off Shawn Dubin in the fifth to make it 5-0. Nick Senzel hit his first home run of the season in the sixth to close out the scoring.

The Astros' tailspin continues, having lost five of their past six and nine of their past 12.

“It is not ideal in the situation that we are in but we are in this situation,” Espada said. “And we got to fight through this. We have guys in there who are capable of giving us innings and some of them are doing that. We are going back to playing the style of baseball that everyone sees the Astros play. We feel pretty good about the guys that we have in there to get us some good innings."

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez threw again Sunday and has a chance of starting one of the games in Chicago his week. “We will see how he feels,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “Once we see how he feels, we will start talking about the possibilities if he can pitch in Chicago or not.”

Nationals catcher Keibert Ruiz said he is about “90 percent” recovered from the flu that placed him on the 10-day injured list on April 12. Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Ruiz will go on a rehab assignment this week to play a couple of games before returning to the club.

UP NEXT

Houston travels to Chicago to begin a three-game series against the Cubs on Tuesday. Espada confirmed JP France and Justin Verlander will start two of the games, but did not specify the order. Spencer Arrighetti, who was called up for Javier, is an option for the opener.

Washington has a day off before hosting the L.A. Dodgers on Tuesday night. Left-hander Patrick Corbin (0-3, 8.06 ERA) faces the Dodgers for the second consecutive start.

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