Every-Thing Sports

Post-draft Texans fan freak out...or not

Brian Gaine had a decent draft. Houstontexans.com

Last week, I wrote about the Texans needing to draft more out of need as opposed to best player available. That came about after watching the roster moves they made and didn't make in free agency. Lance Zierlein brought up a good point on their morning show when he stated that by the Texans continuing to sign less free agents than they lose, it keeps them eligible for compensatory draft picks.

The draft came a few days after the article, and to form, the Texans drafted out of need instead of adding quality depth. I'd say five of their seven selections were done because of need: two offensive linemen, two defensive backs, and a tight end. Defensive end Charles Omenihu and fullback Cullen Gallaspia were guys who added depth at their positions, but weren't necessarily needs. Defensive end is a position they have decent players at, and they've never really carried a fullback. However, the fifth and seventh rounds aren't rounds you typically take quality depth guys. Those rounds are reserved for special teamers and/or taking a flyer on a guy for various reasons. Cody Stoots wrote a very good in-depth look at the Texans 2019 draft class. If you're looking for info on these guys, some film, analysis of their skillsets, and even some fun tidbits, I suggest reading his article.

What I want to focus on here are the fan freak outs. Fan reactions after drafts have always been a range of emotions. Some fans will act as if this is the worst draft class ever and the team will take years to recover. Some will think the team just drafted three future All-Pros and maybe a Hall of Famer that will lead them to several Super Bowl wins. Others will take more of a mild mannered approach. The proper response is to wait and see. Unless you're a Giants fan. In that case this year, it is totally OK to freak out and think your team has been set back several years.

I've noticed a range with Texans fans. Social media tends to bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to sports and/or politics. Texans fan reactions have ranged from "Why did we take another project offensive linemen? We could've taken ___ instead!", to "I love this pick! I think he's going to anchor the line for years to come!," to "Meh. Let's see what they do when it's time to play."

I must say, I'm pretty damn proud of Texans fans this year for not going too overboard. Taking the wait and see approach is best. Draft classes take about two to three years to tell whether or not they were good. Instant draft grades only tell you the opinion of the person giving the grade as it relates to what their perceived needs for that team were before the draft started and how it relates to the players they took. For the most part, Texans fans have more fallen into the "love/like" or "meh" categories. I think they're happy that there were some needs filled, but are skeptical as to how well the players will be able to fill those roles. In years past, Texans fans have freaked out big time. Mario Williams, JJ Watt, and Duane Brown are the most famous freak out picks. Jadeveon Clowney and Andre Johnson were two picks the fans seemed to love universally.

This growth and maturity as a fan base should be met with some production by the team and the front office. When a fan base shows a level of maturity and wises up, it can often leave your team high and dry if you can't produce winning results. I'd love to see the day when fans start protesting with their money and force ownership to make some actual changes. But I'd rather see this team start winning and giving those fans something to celebrate and give me more interesting things to write about.

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The Texans had a chance to make a big statement on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. They did indeed make a big one; they are not ready to compete at the highest level. The Ravens might be the best team in football right now, and they looked like it. The Texans looked like an also-ran, losing 41-7. There is no shame in losing to the Ravens, but completely failing to show up and channeling your inner Miami Dolphin was an embarrassment. This was by far their worst performance of the season and maybe the worst of the Bill O'Brien era. It was reminiscent of the 30-0 playoff loss to the Chiefs. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

The positives: You're kidding, right? The only touchdown came in garbage time.

The negatives: We can stop with the Deshaun Watson MVP talk. He was badly outplayed by Lamar Jackson, who continues to stake his claim. Watson followed up an amazing performance in London with one of the worst efforts of his career.

They got off to another slow start, with a bad Watson fumble where he once again tried to do way too much. Fortunately it did not hurt them, as the Ravens missed a rare field goal. The next possession they went for it on fourth and three, threw a deep ball to Hopkins, who was interfered with in the end zone but there was no call. The Texans rightly challenged, but the NFL continued its trend of refusing to overturn interference calls. That was one of the only real shots to score a touchdown as it turned out, and they game quickly got away from them after that. Ka'imi Fairbairn missed yet another field goal in the first half. They allowed five first-half sacks (seven overall), although many of those were Watson's fault. They looked disjointed on offense, as they did in the first game against Jacksonville and in the loss to Carolina. They had just 102 yards in the first half, worst of the Watson era. There is no other way to say it; they were just bad.

Defense

The positives: Special teams made a nice stop on a fake field goal in the first quarter, reading it perfectly and stopping it on fourth down. Also, it was scoreless after one quarter. So there's that. Otherwise...

The negatives: After a solid beginning, holding Lamar Jackson to a 1-of-6 passing start, they had little answer for what has been the best offense in football, allowing the Ravens to score on six consecutive actual possessions (they did have a one-play knee down at the half). They got little pressure on Jackson, dropping multiple players into coverage, but Jackson was able to beat that. The third touchdown they allowed was vintage Texans defense; they failed to cover a running back out of the backfield on a wheel route. Injuries continued to plague the secondary, as both Lonnie Johnson and Justin Reid left the game. They were overmatched on this side of the ball, too.

The bottom line

This was an all-around awful performance, the worst of the Watson era. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 169 yards, zero TDs and a terrible interception and even worse fumble. He rushed for just 12, and was sacked six times. All the progress the Texans seemed to have made over the past month disappeared in one ugly afternoon. Lamar Jackson showed why he and Russell Wilson are the MVP leaders, hitting 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. He also added 86 yards rushing on just nine carries. In the battle of young star quarterbacks, Jackson dominated in what was no contest. The team stats were ugly as well. Baltimore had 25 first downs to 16, 492 yards to 232 (much of it garbage time yards) and led in time of possession 35:46 to 23:41. The Texans were just 2 of 10 on third downs and 1 of 4 on fourth down.

Bill O'Brien has done a good job in recent weeks, but they had no answers on either side of the ball. He also unnecessarily risked Watson by leaving him in the game down 34-0 in the fourth quarter. Why? To pad his crappy stats? He finally put in A.J. McCarron with 3:55 left down 41-7. He should have folded sooner and prepared for Thursday night's game against the Colts. He was lucky Watson was not hurt.

The Texans came out of the bye week looking like they had spent the entire time on the beach. The bad news is they face a quick turnaround and a must-win against the Colts and are now just 6-4 on the season, tied with Indy. At least they didn't expend much energy in this one. They have to regroup quickly or the season could spiral out of control in a hurry with the Colts and then Patriots on deck. This three-game stretch was going to be their big test. On the first section of it, they failed miserably.

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