Texans 26, Jags 3

Texans vs Jags: Good, bad and ugly, London Edition

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In an early morning London Edition of AFC South action, the Texans throttled the Jags 26-3. It was a close game until the Texans pulled away in the second half. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Fresh off being named AFC Offensive Player of the Month in October, Deshaun Watson continues to show why he's so special. 22/28 for 201 yards and two touchdowns, plus another 37 yards rushing. His best work came in the form of turning into an escape artist and making plays. He's special and I hope he can stay healthy. That, and Bill O'Brien needs to continue to call plays the way he has lately.

-Carlos Hyde was an afterthought. Kenny Stills was a throw-in. Now, both guys are staples in this offense. Hyde had 160 yards rushing and narrowly missed a touchdown. Stills has proven to be more than just a deep threat as he routinely makes tough catches to keep the chains moving. Who would've thought either of these guys would contribute so much when they were traded for just prior to the season starting?

-The defense stepped up big time. While there were some areas that need improvement, I was thoroughly pleased with their performance. They iced the game with three straight turnovers in the 4th quarter (two interceptions and a fumble). They also managed to hold Leonard Fournette to only 72 yards on 16 touches. Doing that to one of the league leaders in yards from scrimmage was perhaps most impressive.

The Bad

-Three offensive penalties on the opening drive for a total of 30 yards are one of the reasons why this team constantly puts itself behind the eight ball to open games. I'm not alone in thinking shooting yourself in the foot and trying to walk it off is a bad idea, am I?

-It took the defense until the last play of the third quarter to finally get a sack. They had no pressures or hits until then either. To say the pass rush was non-existent would be a bit much, but not off base. Gardner Minshew is no Watson, but he is slippery. Missing J.J. Watt hurts, but that's no excuse. They ultimately ended up with two sacks and should've had at least four or more.

-As I mentioned earlier, Hyde narrowly missed a touchdown. Why? Because he didn't change the ball to his outside arm and it was poked out right before he crossed the goal line. All ball carriers are taught to switch the ball to your outside arm when carrying the ball on the sideline. To add insult to injury, he never got his chance to score when the Texans immediately got the ball back. Let's hope he corrects this small issue in the near future.

The Ugly

-It's time for Jonathan Joseph to retire. Sure he got a nice pass break up in the 4th quarter, but he got big faced by Leonard Fournette in the 1st quarter and had to leave the game. Later, he delivered a big hit on Kelan Cole and came out for a few plays. He's no longer the player he was once before. However, he should be retained as a special assistant because of what he can provide the young defensive backs.

-Jags defensive end Calais Campbell was called for helmet to helmet in the 3rd quarter on a Watson scramble. His helmet completely missed Watson and the only thing that hit Watson in the head was his arm. While protecting the quarterbacks has been a point of emphasis for years now, some of these calls are getting ridiculous.

-Former Texans corner A.J. Bouye tried to start something arguing with Dylan Cole between the change over after a turnover. Both guys were held back. The interesting thing here is they're both defensive players and there wasn't anything that happened that could lead to the animosity. I'll be looking for a possible cause, but that looked personal.

The six hour time difference proved to be a non-factor. This win keeps the Texans at pace with the Colts. An early game this week coupled with a bye next week should allow them maximum rest and preparation. They'll need it because they have the Ravens in Baltimore then the Colts, followed by the Patriots, coming to NRG for their next three games. Here's where they can prove themselves to be true contenders. The Colts game is a must-win if they want to win the division. Ravens and Patriots are wins needed to move up the AFC playoff ladder. Hopefully we will see them come out of this midseason test unscathed and battle-tested.

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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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