Texans 13, Jaguars 12

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

Texans Whitney Mercilus
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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Justin Verlander will begin the season on the injured list. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will open the season on the injured list after dealing with right shoulder inflammation during the offseason, which could jeopardize his conditional $35 million option for 2025.

Astros manager Joe Espada said Tuesday the 41-year-old Verlander hasn't suffered any setbacks but needs more time to become game ready.

“He’s doing very well, but we’re just running out of days here, and we won’t be able to build him up enough to start the season,” Espada told reporters. “It’s just a timing issue. We want to do what’s best for J.V. and our club, and this is what’s best for us right now.”

Verlander hasn't experienced any soreness in his shoulder after bullpen sessions, the manager said. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is expected to throw in the bullpen again on Friday but has yet to face hitters.

“We want to make sure to do it smart and not fast," Espada said. "We need him for the long haul. It’s a long season, and we need a healthy J.V. throughout the season.”

Verlander is expected to return early in the season. He called the injury “a little hiccup’’ in February but said he will be “really cautious on how I’m building up.’’

Verlander signed an $86.67 million, two-year deal with the New York Mets ahead of the 2023 season, then was traded back to Houston on Aug. 2. He helped the Astros win their sixth AL West crown in seven seasons before they lost to Texas in the AL Championship Series.

His deal includes a $35 million conditional player option for 2025 that he can exercise if he has 140 more innings pitched this year and does not have a specified injury that would prevent him from being on the 2025 opening day active roster.

If Verlander exercises his 2025 option, the Mets would send the Astros another $17.5 million in addition to the $35,520,753 they agreed to send Houston at the time of the trade: $4,211,469 last year and $31,309,284 this year. That reduced Verlander’s cost to Houston to $9,999,800 in 2023 and $12,024,049 in 2024.

Looking ahead

With Verlander starting the season on the IL, Framber Valdez will likely start the first game of the season against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees.

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