Falcon Points

Texans get big win in Los Angeles, knocking off the Chargers 27-20

Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans played another down to the wire thriller in Los Angeles, holding on for dear life to beat the Chargers 27-20. Let's take a look at how it played out:'

Offense

Positives: The revamped offensive line gave Deshaun Watson more than enough time to make plays. Titus Howard moved to right tackle, and Max Scharping got the start at left guard. This will likely be the lineup moving forward, with Laremy Tunsil, Scharping, Nick Martin, Zach Fulton and Howard. Watson missed some, but also made some big plays, throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns on 25 of 34 passing. He was only sacked twice, and escaped the pocket several times, including on a beautiful play that led to Jordan Akins' second touchdown. And oh yes, the tight ends made an appearance, with three TDs between Akins and Darren Fells. They were very good on third downs, going 6 of 10.

Negatives: Watson's fumble on the first possession was just a bad football play and put his team in an early hole. The running game, so effective the first two weeks, was nearly invisible, averaging just 2.2 per carry. Watson threw a horrible fourth quarter pick but was bailed out by a defensive penalty. He also had a interception dropped on the same drive. Those mistakes can't happen in the fourth quarter. He also held the ball way too long on too many occasions. Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a long field goal at the half and an extra point.

Defense

Positives: J.J. Watt had a big game with two and a half sacks and the line was able to get pressure on Phillip Rivers. Whitney Mercilus had another strip sack, and the Texans had five for the game. The pressure was a necessity against a beat-up LA line and the Texans took advantage. They held the Chargers to three points in the second half.

Negatives: The Chargers picked on Jonathan Joseph all day. The veteran has simply lost the ability to play at an even average level. They also were penalized far too often, including three times on the TD drive right before the half. The rest of the secondary was OK, but Joseph was seeing most of the action. They were bad again on third and long, and once on fourth and long on the Chargers fourth-quarter drive. They allowed the Chargers to convert twice on fourth down on the final drive. They could not stop New Orleans on the final drive in week 1. They did not stop Jacksonville last week. But this time, they finally got a stop on fourth down and won the game.

The bottom line

The Texans rarely get road wins against good teams, and even more rarely against top tier quarterbacks. They got both. They dominated the second half, came up with some big plays and exit with a 2-1 record, tied for the lead in the AFC South with the Colts. Make no mistake, this was a very good win, one that shows what they can be. There are still some things to clean up, but this was their best overall effort of the young season.

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As our lockdown continues, we are still doing our best to provide content to hopefully take your mind off of things. SportsMap will provide daily content for as long as possible.

Fortunately the Texans have given us plenty of ammunition.

Reminder: If you would like a copy of some of my original short stories, please email me at faour975@gmail.com. They are free, but asking those of you can afford it for a $10 minimum donation for our employee assistance fund. If you can't donate right now, I am happy to send it to you for free. It includes a new story about Jesse Christian from Jesus Just Left Chicago.

Now, back to the Texans. This is not a Bill O'Brien hit piece. My opinion of him is well known. Instead I wanted to reach out to the hardcore fan base and share their opinions.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade has angered fans more than anything I have seen in a long time. Maybe it is the added stress of the world falling apart, but fans rightly lost their minds. However, the daunting issue that followed is the way quarterback Deshaun Watson reacted. His cryptic tweets made it clear he was not happy with the deal.

It also has led to speculation that Watson himself could be traded.

Some sites have even gone so far as to speculate as to what a trade would like like. While such a move seems improbable, after O'Brien's deal to ship out Hopkins, anything seems possible. And while the Hopkins trade was a body blow, dealing Watson could be the knockout punch for a lot of fans.

However, there is a contingent that will stick with the team no matter what. I reached out to several of them to get their opinion of a potential Watson trade. The most common responses:

"It would suck, but this is my team ride or die."

"If they think it's the best thing for the franchise."

And even, "I trust Bill O'Brien."

I am not here to judge or argue. I have a lot of respect for hardcore Texans fans who support their team no matter what. I merely wanted to gauge what their response would be should the unthinkable happen.

Several were more than happy to share their opinions publicly, but I chose to keep everyone anonymous to prevent them from getting the inevitable Twitter "how the hell can you think that" responses. You can always attack me with that. I've made no bones about my thoughts on the Texans GM/coach. I wanted to give the team's most dedicated supporters a voice.

I was surprised there were a few who are not sold on Watson.

"If he decides to trade Watson, it is because he doesn't think he can win with him. Maybe people will realize Watson is just not that good. O'Brien had similar success with a lot of other quarterbacks. He even made the playoffs with Brock Osweiler."

The one response that really resonated - and maybe in these times we can all relate - was that hardcore fandom for many of them is about more than the team.

"My husband and I have had season tickets for years. We have sat with the same people, became friends, tailgated and traveled to road games together. For us it is about camaraderie, friendship, and the Texans have given us that. We would not give that up for anything. We just have to hope they do the right thing, but we will be there no matter what."

To me, that is the best explanation. There are relationships we all have around different things, and they are important. I've developed similar friendships through poker, horse racing, basketball and several other things over the years. Why not around a sports team?

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail, and the team will move on with Watson as its quarterback. If not, there is a contingent out there that will stick with the team no matter what. Those fans deserve a voice so that's what I have given them here in hopes that maybe those of us who don't get it at least understand where they are coming from.

If we ever get back to normal, these fans will still be at games, tailgating, cheering and having a good time. We should not fault that, just as they should accept that some fans will be up in arms.

It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few months. Hell, we might not even have NFL football this year. O'Brien has undoubtedly lost some of the fan base, but it is hard to see how much. But we know there are always fans who stick with it no matter what.

Hopefully this gives some insight into why.



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