CODY STOOTS

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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TEXANS MAKE SURPRISING CUT

Texans to release prominent player on defense

Zach Cunningham is on his way out of Houston. Composite image by Jack Brame.

According to multiple reports, the Texans are waiving LB Zach Cunningham. Cunningham was benched last Sunday for disciplinary reasons, which reportedly stemmed from a missed COVID test. Cunningham was also benched for a quarter earlier in the season for breaking team rules.

According to Ian Rapoport, the Texans will have to eat his 12.8 million dollar cap hit next season.

Cunningham started in seven of the 10 games he’s played this season recording 67 tackles and a forced fumble. The Texans are at a point where there's hardly anyone left on the team that has any name recognition with what's left of the fan base. And now the Texans have another position that will have to be addressed this offseason.

Cunningham will likely command a lot of attention from other teams interested in his services.

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