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Texans vs Colts: The good, bad and ugly

Texans vs Colts: The good, bad and ugly
Jadeveon Clowney emerged from the shadows. Zach Tarrant/Houstontexans.com

The Texans ended their losing streak by escaping the clutches of long-time division pain in the ass Colts 37-34. The offense looked good, but the defense looked like a flickering light, only showing brief intermittent flashes. Let’s take a look at things from my point of view:

The Good

-Jadeveon Clowney had one of those peakaboo games in which he flashes that all-world potential. He had a fumble recovery for touchdown and two sacks, including one in overtime in which he made Colts’ top pick Quenton Nelson look foolish. Not to mention plays in which he shot the gaps to stop a couple runs and force an incomplete.

-Bill O’Brien reverted back to last year’s play calling that sprung Deshaun Watson into stardom. The debut of Keke Coutee (13 touches for 107 yards) gave O’Brien another weapon to play with. He found creative ways to get the rookie the ball, as well as take advantage of Watson’s playmaking ability.

- Colts coach Frank Reich “O’Brien-ed” it by going for it on fourth down from their 43 yard line. The pass fell incomplete and the Texans took advantage. With no timeouts and only 24 seconds left, Watson hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 24-yard gain that set up a Ka’imi Fairbairn's 37 yard game-winning field goal. Good thing the biggest boneheaded move came from the opposing coach this time.

The Bad

-The run game has been a staple this year. Today however, it regressed. They averaged a measly 3.2 yards per rush. Watson was the only ball carrier that averaged more than four yards a carry.

-Tyrann Mathieu has been good for the defense, for the most part. Today he was flagged for a hold on a play that would’ve resulted in a punt and was beaten for a touchdown on a wheel route by a backup running back. Not calling him Honey Badger until he improves.

- Colts quarterback Andrew Luck torched the Texans’ secondary to the tune of 464 yards and four touchdowns. Despite J.J. Watt and Clowney’s best efforts, the secondary continues to haunt the defense.

The Ugly

-Jonathan Joseph was beaten badly in press coverage by T.Y. Hilton for a 48-yard gain. This explains why he gives so much cushion: HE CAN’T RUN! At his advanced age, he’s better as a locker room leader for the young guys.

-Kendal Lamm started at right tackle in place of Julien Davenport. He only got called for two penalties today. This explains how bad the offensive line is. Watson has to create time to throw. If not, he gets killed.

-The defense went from brick wall to wet tissue went it counted most. Up 28-17 in the fourth quarter, they proceeded to give up 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The back breaker was the game-tying score and two-point conversion with under a minute left. Also, had O’Brien not wasted that last timeout, it could’ve been used to kick game-winning field goal.

The Texans almost went full Texans and gave the game up in fourth quarter/overtime. The defense is like I described earlier. They’re that one light in your attic that never stays on all the time. Instead, it’ll shine bright as the sun when on, and make the room as black as midnight in the Arctic when off. Good thing O’Brien decided to remember what Watson is capable of today. If this offense can continue to put up points and the defense becomes average, they might be able to salvage this season. I doubt it, but would love to be proven wrong.

 

 

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Allen had high praise for Diggs. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

Impersonal as it might seem to have their dynamic on-field relationship end with an exchange of phone texts, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made it clear on Thursday how much receiver Stefon Diggs meant to him during their four seasons together in Buffalo.

Allen made no mention of Diggs’ mercurial temperament or the occasional sideline flare-ups by expressing only praise in his first opportunity to discuss his now-former teammate being traded to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

“Just thanking him for everything that he did for me, and (I’ll) always have a spot in my heart for him. I’ll always love that guy like a brother. And I wish him nothing but the best,” Allen said, in disclosing what he texted to Diggs. “My lasting memory of Stef will be the receiver that helped me become the quarterback that I am today.”

Brought together in March 2020, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Diggs in a trade with Minnesota, the duo went on to re-write many of Buffalo's single-season passing and scoring records, and lead the team to four straight AFC East titles.

Diggs, now 30, also brought an inescapable sense of drama with him in raising questions about his commitment to the Bills and whether his tight relationship with Allen had soured.

A day before being traded, Diggs posted a message, “You sure?” on the social media platform X in response to someone suggesting he wasn’t essential to Allen’s success.

Whatever hard feelings, if any, lingered as Buffalo opened its voluntary workout sessions this week were not apparent from Allen or coach Sean McDermott, who also addressed reporters for the first time since Diggs was traded.

“Stef’s a great player, really enjoyed our time together. Won a lot of games and he was a huge factor in winning those games. We’ll miss him,” McDermott said. “You never replace a player like Stef Diggs, and we wish him well.”

Allen turned his focus to the future and a Bills team that spent much of the offseason retooling an aging and expensive roster.

Aside from trading Diggs, salary cap restrictions led to Buffalo cutting respected center Mitch Morse, the breakup of a veteran secondary that had been together since 2017, and the team unable to afford re-signing No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.

“I don’t think it’s a wrong thing or a bad thing to get younger,” said Allen, entering his seventh NFL season. “I think it’s an opportunity for myself to grow as a leader. And to bring along some of these young guys and new guys that we’ve brought in to our team. And that’s an opportunity, frankly, that I’m very excited about."

Despite the departures, the Bills offense is not exactly lacking even though general manager Brandon Beane is expected to target selecting a receiver with his first pick — currently 28th overall — in the draft next week.

Receiver Khalil Shakir enters his third year and tight end Dalton Kincaid enter his second following promising seasons. Buffalo also added veteran experience in signing free agent receiver Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

While Beane acknowledged the Bills lack a true No. 1 receiver, he noted there’s less urgency to fill that spot now than in 2020 because of how much the offense has developed under Allen.

“Now that Josh has ascended to the player he is, is that a requirement? I don’t think so,” Beane said.

Diggs’ role also began diminishing in the second half of last season, which coincided with Joe Brady replacing Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Brady placed an emphasis on adding balance to a pass-heavy attack and getting more receivers involved, which led to an uptick in production for Shakir and Kincaid.

While Diggs’ numbers dropped, Buffalo’s win total increased.

With the Bills at 6-6, Diggs ranked third in the NFL with 83 catches, seventh with 969 yards and tied for third with eight TDs receiving. Buffalo then closed the season with five straight wins in which Diggs combined for 24 catches for 214 yards and no scores.

”(Diggs) meant a lot. You look at the statistics, they don’t lie,” Allen said, in referring to Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. “I don’t get paid to make changes on the team. I get paid to be the best quarterback that I can be and try to lead the guys on this team.”

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