The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider

Texans are in a position to turn things around fast

Deshaun Watson and the Texans can turn things around quickly. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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It’s so not the start we expected.

Yes, we’re talking the Texans.  The team we thought would be – worst case – 1-1 after the first two games. We even had hopes of 2-0 dancing through our heads. Who wouldn’t with a healthy Deshaun Watson working his offensive magic and a full-speed J.J. Watt taking the defense up a few levels.

Instead we’re looking at 0-2 with the home opener on the horizon. Shaking your head? Thinking slow start? Or worse?

Yes the last two weeks have been a mess. Slow starts. Mistakes. Turnovers. Head-scratching decisions. Dropped passes. Turnovers. Only three sacks?

Sigh all you want. But don’t write this season off.

Houston, there is a solution.

We’re here to tell you that the playoffs are still within reach. Forget about that stat everyone’s hammering hard  - only 10.9 percent of the NFL teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs. Yes, 1-1 would have been better, but it is what it is.

With the desperate and stumbling Giants heading to NRG Sunday for a battle of 0-2s then a trip to Indianapolis followed by a Sunday night home game with the Dallas Cowboys and a home matchup against the Buffalo Bills .  . . well, this is definitely the stretch to make up some ground.

Run the tables and the Texans are at 4-2 and that chance of making the playoffs just jumped to 62.3 percent. Go 3-3 and Houston has a 38.3 percent chance of extra games. Go 2-4 and it drops precipitously to 8.6.

Start 0-4 and . . . well if a team did that it could tie the 1992 San Diego Chargers as the only teams to make it to the playoffs. But, let’s not go there.

The bottom line here is the Texans are close. Maybe thisclose.

A 1993 Dallas Cowboys close? That year an Emmitt Smith contract dispute meant 0-2 start for the Cowboys but, once signed, Smith led them to the Super Bowl XXVIII title.

Different situation, but . . .

Possible.

What we do know is Watson has shown flashes of what could be – even with a struggling offensive line. The running game – without D’onta Foreman who is out until at least late October – is solid. All-pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins is still one of the best in the league and Will Fuller is on Fire!

And then there’s the fact they opened the season with back-to-back road games. Now, they’ll play three of the next four in NRG. Hmmm.

Regardless, Sunday will feature Hopkins and the Giants’ Odell Beckham, two of the best receivers and playmakers in the game. Edge to . . well, when asked what Hopkins did well, Watson didn’t hesitate.

"Everything. There's nothing that he can't do."

Assuming the Watson – Hopkins, or Watson – Fuller connection is on point as expected  . . . well, it would then be up to the Texans’ defense to limit Beckham – on offense and as a returner – and slow down the very dangerous Saquon Barkley.

For the most part, the Texans are taking it a day at a time. Will Jadeveon Clowney be back? Will Fuller? Will the play calling and focus and intensity be there Sunday?

“Can’t get ahead of ourselves and can’t look back on the previous games,’’ Watson said. “You got to focus on that day and today’s Wednesday, and focus in on the game plan and try be the best we can today, and then we’ll focus on tomorrow when it comes.”

If nothing else, your takeaway from the first two games should be those flashes you did see and that the Texans are better than 0-2. They could have won both games – losing to the Patriots by 7 and the Titans by 3. Things obviously could have gone better, and mistakes need to be corrected.

But, if they learn from that . . .

Well, the 2015 Texans were a much different team - as was the competition - but they too started 0-2 and won the AFC South.

Time to turn it around boys.


 

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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