FALCON POINTS

Texans dismal performance on offense leads to 16-10 loss to Panthers

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The Texans offense was awful on Sunday, and it led to a 16-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Here is how it all played out:

Offense

The positives: There were none. Well, OK, they did have a decent run game, putting up 136 yards and averaging 6.2 per carry. It was almost useless considering that Deshaun Watson played one of the worst games of his career, including a late fumble that ended all hope. The offensive line was bad, allowing six sacks. The receivers could not get open. Untimely penalties were everywhere. Simply put, this loss was on the offense.

The negatives: Trick plays can be game changers both ways. Having DeAndre Hopkins throw a pass wound up being a massive fail. Hopkins was picked, and it led to the Panthers first half touchdown. Was it a bad call? It was certainly a bad result. The Texans had some momentum going after Whitney Mercilus forced yet another fumble. On first and 10 from the 24, that might not have been the time to do it. The play was supposed to catch Carolina off guard, but it didn't. Meanwhile, the old problems of protecting Watson were back as he was sacked three times in the first half, six times in the game. Watson was off all game. He missed on two deep passes that could have been touchdowns. Since the first game against the Saints, where they scored 14 first half points (none in the first quarter), they scored six in the first half against Jacksonville, seven in the first half against LA, and 3 against the Panthers. When you prep all week, you have to think your offense will be ready to produce early. That has not been the case.

Defense

The positives: The Texans forced three Kyle Allen fumbles. The offense did not capitalize until J.J. Watt forced one that led to the Texans first touchdown.

The negatives: Christian McCaffrey is a tough matchup for anyone, and the Texans did their best to contain him. Still, he had a big day, as he has against almost everyone. The Texans always struggle covering running backs in the passing game, and McCaffrey is as good as it comes. He had 8 catches for 83 yards. They weren't perfect, but the defense played well enough to win the game, even though Watt missed a chance to get his offense the ball back late in the game when Kyle Allen ducked a sack and completed a pass that iced the game. It's not like the offense would have done anything anyway.

The bottom line

The Texans continue to play inconsistent football. When the offense is playing well, the defense struggles. When the defense plays well, the Texans offense plays poorly. It has been the exact opposite of "complimentary football."

Bill O'Brien's trick play is debatable. What isn't is he had yet another ill advised challenge in the fourth quarter on an amazing catch by McCaffrey. It was clearly a catch and challenging made little sense. Little decisions like that can lose football games.

It left the Texans no timeouts to stop the clock and the Panthers were able to run out most of the clock.

The Texans are that "almost" team; they "almost" made big plays several times on Sundays. But they came up short. The Panthers made plays to win the game - McCaffrey's juggling catch, Allen's great escape - and that was the difference.

The good news? At 2-2 they are still in the hunt in the AFC South. The bad? You just can't win football games consistently playing like this. Watson has to be much better for this team to have a chance. It was a shame to waste such a solid defensive performance, but that's what happened.

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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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