Jermaine Every

Texans vs Giants: Observations

J.J. Watt was a positive. Houstontexans.com

Both teams came in at 0-2 and in desperate need of a win to salvage early season hope. The Giants looked desperate as the Texans looked inept in their 27-22 home opening loss. Here’s what I observed:

The Good

-JJ Watt is rounding into form. He made several JJ-type plays. One was an inside rush knifing through the line and stopping Saquon Barkley in the backfield. Another was an outside rush, then stripping Eli Manning of the ball forcing the Giants to kick a field goal. Oh, and he threw in three sacks as well.

-Part of the reason Watt looked so good was the play of the others in the front seven, particularly Jadeveon Clowney. While the box score only shows three tackles and one for a loss, Clowney was often opposite of Watt and took up attention to allow Watt to such a good game.

- Will Fuller showed off his added bulk a few times this game. He routinely caught passes and bounced off would be tacklers for yards after catch/contact. Holding onto passes, especially after contact, has been a struggle for him. If he’s put it behind him, this’ll be a welcomed sight.

The Bad

-Julien Davenport had five penalties called against him. Sure he’s in his second season and played college ball at Bucknell (an FCS school), but five penalties?!? One early in the fourth quarter took a touchdown off the board. It’s like a parent constantly giving their kids excuses using the “he’s/she’s only __ years old.” Accountability has to start sometime.

-Deshaun Watson made the cardinal sin of throwing a red zone interception. Down 20-9, Martinas Rankin allowed a sack, and then pressure as Watson had to roll out. He then threw the ball up to Lamar Miller, but Alec Ogletree picked it off as he was in better position.

-Watson also took some unnecessary hits. He scrambled a couple times and got out of bounds. However, there were a few times in which he didn’t slide and seemed to get banged up. He got up fine each time, but there are only so many hits you have in your career. Don’t waste them.

The Ugly

-Giants scored on all four of their drives in the first half to build a 20-3 lead. Texans defense has to help the offense when they can’t get going. Allowing that many scoring drives puts undo pressure on the offense whether they’re scoring or not.

-Speaking of the offense, the run game looked nothing like the one that came into this game leading the league. They managed only 59 yards on 19 carries, with 36 of those yards coming via Watson’s scrambling.

-Watson went 24 of 40 for 385 yards. But those 16 incompletions were bad. Several hopped in front of receivers and some sailed over their heads. He’s looking more comfortable, but his inaccuracy at times is scary, the bad kind.

The Texans fall to 0-3 on the season. Prospects for having a successful season are going down the drain faster than a new toilet on its first flush. Bill O’Brien isn’t going anywhere. Deshaun Watson is what he is. This defense isn’t going to magically fix itself. Maybe it’s time for Texans’ fans to face reality. Where have I heard that before? It’s not quite time to start looking at draft prospects, but if this keeps up, they could be on Ed Oliver watch.

 

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McCullers Jr. out-pitched friend and former teammate Dallas Keuchel on Father's Day. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With three impressive wins to start this series against the once AL-leading Chicago White Sox, Houston tried to extend their winning streak to seven games and finish a four-game sweep on Father's Day. Thanks to a big inning against former-Astro Dallas Keuchel, they would win to keep their hot streak going.

Final Score: Astros 8, White Sox 2

Astros' Record: 43-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1)

Losing Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (6-2)

Rough return to Houston for Keuchel

In his first game against his old squad, Dallas Keuchel would not have a memorable start on the mound for Chicago. Houston made him labor in the first inning, loading the bases though they only came away with one run on an RBI single by Abraham Toro, grabbing the early 1-0 lead. After going down 1-2-3 in the second, they got after Keuchel again in the third.

They ended up batting around against him that inning, including a two-RBI single by Yordan Alvarez, RBI double by Taylor Jones, and bases-loaded RBI-walk by Jose Altuve, which would end Keuchel's day very early and leave the bases juiced. Chicago's bullpen would walk another batter to give Keuchel another earned run, making it a 6-2 game, with all six going against the former Houston ace. Carlos Correa extended the lead to five runs in the next inning, hitting a leadoff solo home run to make it 7-2.

McCullers Jr. gives up two over six

That gave Lance McCullers Jr. a nice lead to work with, and he managed it well. He had one big mistake in the early goings of the game, giving up a one-out single in the second to set up a two-run home run, which at the time put Chicago in front 2-1 before Houston's offense came alive. He followed that up with four scoreless innings, erasing a walk in each with some tremendous defense behind him—his final line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 94 P.

Astros complete the sweep to jump on top of the standings

Still a six-run game in the top of the seventh, Blake Taylor entered as the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen, tossing a 1-2-3 frame. He continued in the top of the eighth, getting two strikeouts in another scoreless inning. The 8-2 score would go final as Ralph Garza Jr. would enter as the third pitcher of the day to wrap things up with a scoreless top of the ninth to finish the four-game sweep. The win, their seventh straight, paired with an Oakland loss earlier in the afternoon, moves Houston into the top spot in the AL West based on winning percentage.

Up Next: This long stretch of consecutive games continues on Monday in Baltimore, as the Astros pick up a seven-game road trip starting with a three-game set against Baltimore getting underway at 6:05 PM Central. Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 5.68 ERA) will get the start for Houston, going opposite of Keegan Akin (0-2, 5.76 ERA) for the Orioles.

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