Texans vs. Patriots observations

Tyrann Matthieu was a bright spot. Zach Tarrant, Houston Texans team Web site

The Texans opened the season with a dud of a loss to the Patriots. Losing 27-20 in the season opener on the road to the team that was the Super Bowl runner up is nothing but a moral victory. Last time I checked, those don’t factor into the playoff run. Let’s take a look at some general pbservations:

The Good

-The running game looked solid. 154 yards on 33 carries for 4.7 yards per carry average as a team. Lamar Miller really stood out with his performance. He totaled 98 yards on 20 carries. If they can keep this up all year, it’ll help them to a winning record.

-Tyrann Mathieu, aka Honey Badger, paid immediate dividends. He picked off Tom Brady and recovered a Rob Gronkowski fumble. He’s had a reputation for being a playmaker since his days at LSU, which continued in the NFL. He’s the early leader in the clubhouse for biggest free agency steal this past offseason.

- JJ Watt showed flashes of being his old self. First half, he looked slow, as if he was still adjusting to game speed. Second half, he made a play to chase down a Patriots ball carrier for a short gain. Again he showed flashes when he beat the right tackle and pressured Tom Brady into an incompletion while nearly getting a sack. He finally got a sack with just over six minutes left in the game.

The Bad

-The trend of not converting third downs in close games continued today. 2 for 11 isn’t exactly a winning formula. They also traded two early Patriots touchdowns with field goals of their own. These two key components have spelled doom for teams with losing ways since the beginning of time and the Texans are the epitome of this formula.

-Deshaun Watson was off all game. He was 17 of 34 for 176 yards, one interception, one touchdown, three sacks, and a 62.9 passer rating is a recipe for disaster. The most bothersome part of his performance was his inaccuracy. He missed badly on some passes that should have been completions.

-DeAndre Hopkins ended the game with eight catches for 78 yards on 11 targets. However, the Texans didn’t get him going until late in the second quarter. A couple times he was hung out to dry by Watson’s throws. You have to get your go-to guy going early in the game, not after you’re down by two scores.

The Ugly

-Fumbling on the very first play of the game was not how Watson envisioned getting the season started. That play led to an easy Patriots score. You don’t beat Brady by giving him extra bullets. To make things worse, the Patriots scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 7-0 and never looked back.

-Kevin Johnson is bad at football. Honey Badger is good at football. So when Honey Badger appeared to communicate something to Johnson and he didn’t adjust, he went full Honey Badger on him on the bench by yelling at him and making demonstrative hand gestures as if he was exasperated. Not only that, but Johnson did what he does best: got called for dumb penalties, missed easy tackles going for kill shots, and got another concussion.

-The Texans had no answer for Gronk. He routinely beat any linebacker he was matched up against, as well as the double coverage said linebackers got from the secondary. The worst of it was his touchdown catch over Kareem Jackson as he tried to double him over the top while Zach Cunningham played man coverage underneath. Cunningham was drafted because he could cover. He hasn’t shown that as of yet.

There are plenty of things to look at with hope moving forward. However, there are more causes for concern. This team has high ceiling, low floor potential for this season. I could see anywhere from an 11-5 playoff run, to a disappointing 6-10 missing the playoffs and wondering why Bill O’Brien got an extension offseason.


Plenty of bad but recently some great on the short week game for Texans

Throwback Thursdays: Texans history is so so in Thursday games

Tim Warner/Getty Images

This is a list and a few thoughts from the five Thursday Night Football games where Bill O'Brien has been the head coach for the Texans.

2014: The almost comeback for the ages - Texans lose 33-28

This game sucked early, but then almost sucked a lot less. It still sucked in the end but it had one of J.J. Watt's best plays of his career.

The Colts jumped out to an early lead thanks to a Pat McAfee onside kick and a huge T.Y. Hilton play from Andrew Luck. It was one of the signature Hilton games in his time against the Texans. The Colts would lead 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Arian Foster along with some stellar defense would get the Texans back in the game but it wasn't enough.

This was the first Thursday game under Bill O'Brien and would be right in the middle of a three game losing streak coming off a bad overtime loss to the Cowboys and ahead of a Monday disaster against the Steelers.

2015: Sick Hasselbeck makes Texans fans sicker - Texans lose 27-20

I always describe this game as the one where Matt Hasselbeck was crapping his pants on the sidelines and still beat the Texans. I am not too wrong about this. He was so sick he didn't practice and yet still had enough for the Colts to beat the Texans. He was also 40 years old too by the way.

This one hurt as it was Andre Johnson's return to Houston but he was wearing a Colts uniform. He scored the opening touchdown and it was pretty much the only good game he had for the Colts that season. He also scored what would be the deciding touchdown in this one.

It also marked one of the quarterback indecision moments of Bill O'Brien's tenure. Ryan Mallett took a big hit and asked out of the game and Brian Hoyer returned to the game and played pretty well. He completed a long pass as time expired to Jaelen Strong (remember that name!?) to get the Texans their first touchdown. Trialing by seven Hoyer threw an interception in Colts territory ending the Texans comeback attempt.

2016: Brissett blows out Brock - Texans lose 27-0

This is one of the worst losses of the Bill O'Brien era. The Patriots were down to their third-string quarterback in the midst of a Tom Brady suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo's injury. Enter Jacoby Brissett and the best coach of all-time to torture Brock Osweiler and the Texans. Oh, by the way, Gronk was hurt too I think.

A field goal by New England put the first points on the board and the Texans fumbled the ensuing kickoff which then moments later saw Brissett take a rush 27 yards to the house. The Texans wouldn't get on the Patriots side of the field until there was a couple of minutes left in the third quarter and they were down 20-0.

We should have all known Osweiler stunk when he couldn't score in this game, but it took me a few more weeks before I really jumped off the Brock train.

2017: The first one for the chosen one - Texans win 13-9

Tom Savage was benched and Deshaun Watson's era began. A short week after sitting behind Savage in training camp and then getting thrown to the Jaguars defense in the second half of week one didn't matter to Watson. It was the start of his coming out party.

The defense kicked ass in this game helping Watson get the first win. The big run above was the moment many of us will never forget when it comes to this Thursday night affair.

2018: Welcome Back Brock - Texans win 42-23

Ah yes, the Brock Osweiler revenge game! The Texans had won four straight after a dreadful start to the season and were coming off a physical game with Jacksonville. This was Brock Osweiler's chance for revenge on the team that jettisoned him after the 2016 season.

There would be little revenge. Credit the Dolphins, they kept the game fairly close until Deshaun Watson started cooking in the second half. Four touchdowns in the second half was quite the efficient showing on just 10 pass attempts.

It was a fun Thursday night contest especially given the Texans history on the short week under O'Brien.

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