Deshaun Watson led the Texans in rushing. Steven Ryan/Getty Images
Houston walked out of The Meadowlands with a 29-22 victory Saturday, earning its 10th win of the season. In a game that was closer than expected, the Texans got the win and earned Head Coach Bill O'Brien his best record in five seasons on the job. His team can now clinch the AFC South division with a loss by the Colts and Titans this week. It wasn't a great win against the now 4-10 Jets, but it was enough to keep the momentum going. Ka'imi Fairbairn was the player of the game hitting 5 for 5 on field goals to keep the Texans scoring on drives that stalled on the opponent's side of the field.
Houston's third ranked rushing attack was hampered early when starter Lamar Miller went down with an ankle injury. His loss limited the game plan and the Texans finished the game with only 48 total yards; Watson getting 27 of those on three carries. The emphasis on the passing game left the offensive line exposed and Deshaun Watson's inability to throw the ball away led to six sacks for -55 yards.
Watson was able to move the offense enough to get in scoring range on several drives. He finished the game 22 of 28 for 294 yards and two touchdowns, which was enough to secure a win. He was helped by his star players, guys like DeAndre Hopkins who had 108 of his 170 yards in the first half. He caught Houston's early touchdown but would add a second touchdown in the fourth quarter to retake the lead after the Jets went ahead 22-19 on an Elijah McGuire Touchdown run.
Big plays on the defense kept Houston in the game. Early on, J.J. Watt got his sack total to 13.5 and then forced the fumble by Jets running back Elijah McGuire that set up Houston's early touchdown. Jadeveon Clowney was all over the field against the run, including a tackle for loss and being on the receiving end of a holding penalty where he clearly would have been in the backfield. He was also the man who sacked Darnold on 3rd down of the Jets last drive to ensure the Texans win. But despite the pressure they applied, they were only able to get the two total sacks and Darnold finished the game 24/38 for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
The Texans defense gave up 90 yards on the ground against a team that averaged 106-yard per game but gaps in coverage allowed plays that kept the game closer than it should have been. This wasn't Houston's best game, but it was enough to secure the win and get closer to the divisional crown and with a little luck, a playoff bye week.
They face the Super Bowl Champion Eagles on the road next week, but they may be without their starting running back and reeling from an injury riddled season. They will have to keep doing enough to win out and hope for some luck on their way into the playoffs.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.