From Josh Allen to Minshew Mania the Texans have their hands full

Texans in London with new set of challenges

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The Friday Stoots Six-Pack is here for you to get ready for the Texans London debut. Chip chip cherrio.

London Calling

This is the first trip for the Texans across the pond. It took a lot longer than I thought it would take considering the Jaguars are basically London's team. The Texans avoided a trip to Jacksonville this year which means only two true road division games this year. They still have a trip to Tennessee.

The advantage isn't going to end up being a huge deal for Jacksonville. Two of their most important players, Gardner Minshew and Josh Allen, are making their first trip. It is a double road game, with a tiny bit a familiarity for the Jaguars.

The early start time sucks, that's not fun. But, an early morning win sure would make all of Sunday feel nice for Texans fans.

Shorthanded in key spots

The Texans didn't even take these players to London. That's already five of the seven inactive players.

The Texans will be short a player or two as I am guessing they will have more than two players who can't play on Sunday in London. I would expect Lonnie Johnson, Bradley Roby, and Tashaun Gipson to all be back after the bye week. Their absence makes for another tough game in the secondary this week though.

Will Fuller's absence is noticeable in the ability to stretch the field for the offense. A healthy Kenny Stills would go a long way in bringing back some element of that for Deshaun Watson and the passing game.

Tunsil and Tytus

Laremy Tunsil should play this weekend. The Texans desperately need him. The right tackle spot with Howard potentially being down another week is weak. The Texans eventually solved an element of the issue at right tackle with how they ran the offense late in the game against the Raiders.

The Raiders are not the Jaguars. Jacksonville boasts a much more formidable pass rush. The Jaguars have 29 sacks on the season which is good enough for third. They're a nasty group coming at teams from all angles.

If Roderick Johnson is healthy he should be the right tackle. If he isn't Chris Clark and Dan Skipper are the options. I don't expect Tytus Howard to be ready just yet despite his return to practice. However, if he is ready, wow what a boost that would be.

Minshew's Magic Mania 

Gardner Minshew is fun to watch. It isn't fun to be on the other end of Minshew making plays and kicking defenses ass.

He is a rhythm player. Most air raid guys are. Disrupting him almost always leads to the Jaguars struggling on offense. The problem is even when he is struggling he's dangerous and can push the Jaguars into a position to score.

The Texans have to push Minshew into a position where he can't rely on Leonard Fournette and the rushing attack. He's most dangerous in a close game where his mobility nearly sunk the Texans in week two. He can't win a shootout with Deshaun Watson and the Texans.

No longer the marquee matchup

The best 1-on-1 matchup in the NFL is no more. DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Ramsey was always a treat to watch. Since the two squared off, Ramsey has a new home in Los Angeles playing for the Rams.

I don't know how the Jaguars will defend Hopkins now. Former Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is an option surely but I don't think he will follow Hopkins like Ramsey did. Maybe rolling coverage over to him and hoping he doesn't find the weak part of the defense.

Hopkins has been a terror on first downs. If the Jaguars can't slow him down the Texans should be able to stay on schedule and get hot on offense.

The new terror of the AFC South

Josh Allen might end up being the best pass rusher to call the AFC South home since J.J. Watt. He's a monster. He is a freak athlete. He's evolving too. He's hitting his stride.

He has at least a sack in his last four games and is coming off a two sack performance against the Jets.

Jacksonville moves him around a lot to take advantage of his athleticism and match him up with defenders who will struggle with him. It is annoying for the rest of the AFC South that he slipped to Jacksonville and even more annoying that he is starting to figure things out.

The whole Jaguars front-seven is scary, but Allen might end up being the scariest in years.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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