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 HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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