Texans 27, Raiders 24

Texans vs Raiders: Good, bad and ugly

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The Texans improved to 5-3 by outlasting the Raiders in yet another come from behind win. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson was did everything he had to do to help his team win. He went 27/39 for 279 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another 46 yards on 10 carries. His third touchdown pass was highlight reel material as he threw it with one eye open after escaping a sack and being kicked in the face!

-DeAndre Hopkins was Watson's favorite target. what a surprise. Hopkins didn't have any of the three touchdown passes Watson threw, but he routinely caught the tough passes to keep the chains moving. His 11 catches on 13 targets for 109 yards speaks to the level of comfort these two guys have with one another.

-Whitney Mercilus continues to play like he's pre-injury Whitney. Six tackles and two tackles for loss, including one big hit on Josh Jacobs. He was able to pressure Derek Carr a few times, but didn't manage a sack. I can see him pushing for a Pro Bowl nod if he maintains this level of play.

The Bad

-First Raiders play from scrimmage, I saw Benardrick McKinney get caught in the trash trying to slide down the line and Josh Jacobs ran for a 13 yard gain. He also shot a gap and missed Jacobs on another first quarter run. This isn't what one would expect from a guy who was given a $55 million dollar extension.

-The offensive line woes continued against the Raiders. The run game was non-existent outside Watson until the fourth quarter when Carlos Hyde picked it up. They also gave up three sacks and had several more pre-snap penalties. Oh, and Laremy Tunsil went down with a shoulder injury and didn't return.

-Woes you say? Let's talk about the woes in the defensive backfield. They gave up 285 yards passing against a team that has been run heavy because they suck so bad. Injuries bit them again this game as well. They're basically playing with whoever they can find that can also stay healthy.

The Ugly

-The Texans are one of three teams in the league to not produce any points on their opening drive this season. They join the Jets and Saints in this category. Failing to establish your offense early is a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, it didn't come back to haunt them against the Raiders. However it is something they need to rectify if they expect to make a run.

-Watson's eye was swollen after being kicked. Eye injuries are nothing to play with because they can't be rehabbed or repaired. Once you damage them, that's it. Over the next few days, pay attention to his eye and what they say about it. Looks as if he'll be OK, but man that was scary.

-J.J. Watt (shoulder) and Lonnie Johnson Jr (concussion) both went out in the first half with injuries and didn't return. This thinned an already thin secondary and hurt the pass rush. Johnson Jr will be in concussion protocol and will might miss next week's game or more depending on severity. Watt jogged off the field and didn't appear too seriously hurt, but it turned out he had a torn pec and is lost for the season again.

While this win wasn't without its losses (the injuries), it was pleasing. Watson managed to get his backs and tight ends involved in the red zone. Hopkins continues to make the chains move in routine fashion. Hyde has proven to be a steal, as well as Duke Johnson. Garreon Conley left a lot to be desired, but it was his first game in a Texans uniform. If this team can get and stay healthy, they'll be an AFC contender. However, if health and mental mistakes continue to plague them, off to an early vacation they'll go. Props to Bill O'Brien for adjusting and calling a good game. Let's hope he keeps this up. Up next are the Jags in a game being played across the Pond. Better wake up early next weekend.

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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