FRED FAOUR

Texans escape with 20-13 win over the Bills, but are they ruining Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson was on the run all day. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans grinded out an unimpressive 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, evening their record at 3-3 after a dismal 0-3 start.

The defense stifled the Bills, including two late picks to lock down the victory.

Deshaun Watson led a tying 84-yard drive to a field goal in the final two minutes where they were helped immensely by a pass interference call on the Bills in the end zone on a deep pass. The Texans had first and goal, but once again failed to score a touchdown. They settled for a field goal, setting the stage for Jonathan Joseph's pick six to win the game.

After six games, we still don’t know what the Texans are. They have losses to Blaine Gabbert and made a broken down Eli Manning look like a real quarterback. The Colts gifted them an OT win, then the Texans defense woke up and locked down the Cowboys and Bills, but they were still all-out to win both. And the bad news? The Cowboys offense is terrible on the road. The Bills are historically bad, and backup QB Peterman gave the game away with the late pick six. Still, the Texans defense did what it needed to do. They held the Bills to just 12 first downs. The got two sacks and forced four turnovers.

They also got key contributions on special teams, including recovering a fumble and blocking a punt.

They needed every bit of it, because Deshaun Watson and the offense had a rough day. Whether it was lingering effects of his injury or simply bad play, Watson struggled throughout. He was sacked seven times, threw two interceptions, lost a fumble (he was lucky he did not lose more) and could not put together sustained drives. His accuracy was off, and he made a lot of questionable decisions.

And that is why it is impossible to know what these Texans are. If the defense can play this well going forward and Watson can be more positive than negative, a playoff berth might be possible. But we really have not seen that combination all year, with the exception of the Cowboys game, and even then the offense was abysmal in the red zone.

On Sunday, Watson and the offense struggled all over the field, including the red zone. They were just 3 of 13 on third down. They had fewer yards (213 total) than the Bills. And it almost cost them the game.

The bigger concern is the Texans may be in the process of ruining Watson’s career.

The offensive line has been an issue for two years. They were terrible again on Sunday, and you have to wonder what the impact on Watson will be long term. He is already physically beaten up, and it is affecting his game. It also appears to be impacting him mentally as well. His body language is not the same, his confidence appears shot, and he could very well be regressing before our eyes.

His head coach has not helped him. Questionable play calling, putting his QB at risk of bad hits, and making boneheaded decisions that cost the team points.

But Watson is not helping himself, either. He once again threw an interception in the Bills end zone on an absolutely terrible decision. At least a couple of the sacks were on him for holding the ball too long. Those mistakes are going to cost the Texans games.

It almost did on Sunday.

Watson is the presumed future of the franchise. He won’t be if he can’t stay healthy and loses the swagger and confidence and turns the ball over multiple times. That is what we saw for much of Sunday.

If it continues, the Texans present - and future - might not be so bright.











 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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