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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

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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