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On the Texans after Week 2: 3 Headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet

On the Texans after Week 2: 3 Headlines, 2 questions, 1 bet
Jadeveon Clowney did not make an impact in Week 1. In Week 2, he did, but a negative one. And he wasn't even active. Houstontexans.com

It's Monday and here are three headlines, two questions, and one bet for this week. 

Unanswered Questions from Clowney on Sideline Penalty

Texans defensive standout Jadeveon Clowney declined to speak at length with the media today. He did not address directly the play and said he's moving onto the Texans next opponent the Giants. 

Early in the fourth quarter the Titans first play of the drive saw their tight end catch a ball and stumble out of bounds onto the Texans sideline. Clowney, inactive for the game and in street clothes, was bumped by Luke Stocker after moving towards him three yards and later had an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed on him giving the Titans 15 yards. Tennessee would finish that drive with a field goal from the Texans 24-yard line. 

Bill O'Brien said he knows the taunting rule is a big emphasis but he isn't sure of the details of the Clowney penalty. 

"I don't really know," was O'Brien's response to a question about Clowney's availability this weekend. 

"They Handled it Differently Than We Thought"

The Titans first score of the game came on a beautifully executed fake punt after their offense had stalled out. With the Texans leaving the Titans gunner Dane Cruikshank uncovered Tennessee's Kevin Byard caught the snap and threw it for a touchdown to his fellow defensive back. 

O'Brien said it was a mistake on his part.

"That was a bad play call," said O'Brien. "Studying that during the week we felt like they would handle that differently."

Wrong Instincts, Wrong Play, Wrong Result

The Texans final play saw quarterback Deshaun Watson run the final 17 seconds of the game out completing a pass in the middle of the field to DeAndre Hopkins. O'Brien said today he needed to call a better play in the situation. 

Watson yesterday bristled at the notion he should have thrown the ball out of bounds. 

"I mean, of course," he said. "But while you’re playing, you can sit back and sit in your seats and say that I need to throw the ball away, but I tried to take a shot. We didn’t have any timeouts and they guarded the sideline very well, so my instincts took over and I tried to get the ball, and time ran out."

Can the Texans punch it in?

The Texans lead the league in rushing. Deshaun Watson, for the most part, had a nice game through the air against the Titans. Houston has just four touchdowns and three field goals to show for their efforts which is good for 26th in the NFL at 18.5 points per game. With the defense far from the shutdown defenses of the past, the offense has to take some pressure off the other side of the ball and put some pressure on teams, especially ones with backup quarterbacks. 

Four drives into Titans territory ended without points for the Texans. They convert about a third of their red zone opportunities. This team is going to have to score points and stop making it so tough on the defense. A defense, mind you, that has allowed just 12 second-half points. The current scoring pace is not going to cut it. It is up to Bill O'Brien's play calling and Deshaun Watson's decision making to put up more points. 

Can the Penalties Go Away?

The Texans committed 11 penalties for 88 yards against the Titans. The following downs and distances were all caused via penalty. 

1st and 15 (False Start)

1st and 15 (False Start)

2nd and 21 (Clipping)

1st and 20 (Holding)

1st and 20 (Holding)

It is incredibly hard for an offense to make up those penalties and play from behind the chains. This team has the talent to overcome them with big plays but not this often. They were able to turn some of those around and put points on the board though and cleaned them up in the second half not committing an offensive penalty. Do you want the answer to slow starts and uneven first half play? There it is. 

I bet the Texans struggle to contain Saquon Barkley in the passing game Sunday. 

The Giants top overall pick has impressed a ton so far this season but especially catching the ball. He has as many targets as DeAndre Hopkins, 22, and more receptions than teammate Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, and Hopkins with 16. 

The Titans didn't throw the ball to their running backs much but the Patriots in week one saw success getting the ball to their backs. Tom Brady also had a rare miss overthrowing Rex Burkhead on what would have been a touchdown. Barkley is no joke, especially in the passing game, and he will be used to slow down the Texans pass rush. 

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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