Texans 13, Jaguars 12

Texans vs. Jags 1: The good, bad & ugly

Houstontexans.com

The Texans were able to quiet "Minshew Mania" with a 13-12 win over the Jags. Always good to get a win over a division opponent. Even better when it was a hard-fought game. Here's some of my observations:

The Good

-The defense came up clutch with a two-point conversion stop with 30 seconds left to preserve the 13-12 win. They gave up a the touchdown drive, but redeemed themselves on the conversion stop. All game long, they fought hard and limited the Jags to 281 yards of offense. Holding Leonard Fournette to 47 yards rushing and getting four sacks were keys to victory as well.

-Whitney Mercilus had two sacks, a QB hit, and forced a couple fumbles; one of which was recovered by JJ Watt. My favorite was the strip sack early in the 4th quarter. He started with an outside step into the left tackle's shoulder and whipped inside on a spin move. He was on Gardner Minshew's back within a couple steps stripping him of the ball. Dwight Freeney would be proud.

-Carlos Hyde is running like a man who's got something to prove. I haven't seen him finish a run without faling forward. He followed up last week's performance with 90 yards rushing. Score one for the GM by committee on his signing. If he keeps this up, it'll open up p[lay action passes down the field for Deshaun Watson and the receiving corp.

The Bad

-Duke Johnson seemed to run a bad route, or turn the wrong way on a 3rd & 4 at the end of the first quarter. Watson had time to set his feet and throw a pass in a soft spot in what looked like a cover 2 zone, which leads me to believe Johnson messed up. Kicking a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown in those situations can hurt.

-The team gave up another four sacks this week. after six last week, they're on pace to shatter the franchise record of 72 sacks with 80. They're only two games in, so I'm not too worried. Chemistry with a consistent offensive line helps. So does late running back pickups learning blitz pickups. Oh, and you're quarterback has to get rid of the ball quicker too.

-Several missed opportunities hurt the Texans offense. Will Fuller dropped a deep ball, the sacks of course, and going 6/15 on third down conversions. While they managed to score a touchdown after the fumble, it took a hard hitting 4th&1 run by Watson to punch it in. Last week, they capitalized on mistakes and almost won. This week, they didn't and still won. The name of the game for winning teams is consistency.

The Ugly

-Jaleel Addae allowed a 20 yard scramble on 3rd & 9 at the end of the first quarter when he turned to run with a receiver after Minshew crossed the line of scrimmage. Newsflash: you can't complete a forward pass if you've passed the line of scrimmage!

-Laremy Tunsil went to the locker room with an ankle injury early in the fourth quarter. He managed to walk off the field under his own power, but not the sight you want to see from the guy you paid a king's ransom to protect your franchise quarterback. He managed to return, but I know lots of people were on the edges of their seats.

-Tytus Howard got a rude awakening today. A tripping penalty wiped out a long passing first down in the 4th quarter as the team was looking to run down the clock. He also missed a few blocking assignments; two of which led to a sack and a tackle for loss. He was playing left guard where he's spent some time during the preseason.

Somebody was starting 0-2 and down a game in the division. Good thing the Texans were more determined, or should I say they outlasted the Jags. This was a defensive struggle. But it says a lot about the Texans to win such an ugly game after losing a shootout last week. Bad teams are mentally defeated after losing heartbreakers. This was a good win and a sign that the Texans have some gumption. The AFC South now has three 1-1 teams, but the Colts and Texans are atop the division because they both have division wins. This division race will be one to watch all year.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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