POINT BLANK

Some realistic questions for Texans fans entering the 2018 season

Having a healthy J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney would be huge. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

As we approach another NFL season, I have questions for Texans fans which require honest answers. With a franchise quarterback and plenty of pieces on both sides of the ball, one would assume they are trending upward. How far does this team need to go this year and what do they need to accomplish for you to deem it a success? Let's have some fun, answer some questions, and get everyone ready for what we hope is an exciting and successful campaign.

When you look at the short history of this franchise and the season by season records, we know that the norm is 9 wins and 7 losses.  The other frustrating thing is the fact that winning the division and winning one playoff game has also become the ceiling in terms of accomplishments. In a football crazy state and town like Houston, fans have higher goals and expectations. Some experts have picked the Texans to go to the Super Bowl and others seem to predict .500 with a 2 game jump either direction depending on Deshaun Watson's health.  So I ask you, the fan, what is your realistic expectation and prediction for where the team will finish this season?

From Deshaun Watson to J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadaeveon Clowney, the health of these players will play a huge role in the success of the team. Obviously Watson's health is paramount as we’ve seen too many seasons go by the wayside when dealing with a less than adequate quarterback. Even though last season was a small sample size cut short by his devastating knee injury, what we saw was enough to believe that this was the quarterback of the future. A healthy Watson has had writers and experts predict a good season, potentially going on to win MVP As we’ve seen with the Rockets,  it’s more important to have team success than individual accolades.

What do you think of Watson? Do you expect continued progress? Do you expect a bit of regression? Dare I say it, but do you expect him to stay healthy for a full 16 games? Obviously any question that entails the quarterback also should include what your expectations are in terms of the offensive line and its ability to keep him clean. Is it formidable enough?

On the defensive side of the ball there are numerous questions that have to be asked. What do you think this defense is going to do this season? After all, two years ago it was a top 5 defense in the entire league. Last season under Mike Vrabel the squad suffered and so did the D as the team's defensive unit was bottom 5 in the league. As Vrabel somehow got the head coaching job of the Tennessee Titans, Romeo Crennel returns to his familiar position of defensive coordinator. A defensive genius known for his ability to plan and scheme and stop some of the best offices in football, he obviously needs his best players to get healthy and stay that way. Let's take a look at the key personnel and analyze where they are in their recovery and if they can stay healthy this season.

Watt is the face of the franchise and the most popular and visible player both on and off the field. The man has been the defensive player of the year three times, but he has only played eight games over the last two seasons. He is coming off a fractured tibial plateau, a major leg injury that has some questioning if he will ever return to anything close to the form that he has been known for. His rehab and recovery has gone well and he has already returned to game action this weekend in game 3 of the preseason. So I ask you, what do you expect of Watt this year? Do you expect him to stay healthy? If he does, what kind of numbers do you think he will put up? Is staying healthy good enough or do you need to see him return to form as one of the best defenders in the game?

As for the rest of the defense, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney are both coming off injuries that have the front office, coaching staff and fans somewhat worried as we get close to the start of the regular season. As important as Watt is, without these two guys the defense as a whole is nothing. Clowney saw limited action this weekend and most importantly, stayed on track to be ready on September 9. He had a breakout season last year and most importantly, was able to stay healthy for all 16 games. Although Mercilus has yet to participate in practice or games this preseason, he is said to be on track to return from his torn pectoral muscle and be back on the field against the Patriots in week 1.

With all of that said, what are you expecting from this dynamic duo? Will they remain healthy? Will they make this defense return to the top of the league in terms of overall rank and ability to wreak havoc?

As we inch closer to the regular season, I'm curious how would you answer these questions? Be honest and don't let your heart sway your head into making unrealistic decisions. It's a big year for your Houston Texans filled with high expectations and lots of promise. We all know that the biggest questions surrounding the team involve staying healthy and getting thier injured stars back to being fit and formidable. Regardless of how you respond to each and every question above, the good news is, the season will be filled with all the answers as the schedule plays out and the story unfolds. Are you ready for some football?

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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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