Texans 24, Titans 21

Texans vs Titans 1: Good, bad and ugly

Getty Images

In the first of a two out of three stretch for these two teams to decide the potential AFC South winner, the Texans were victorious over the red hot Titans. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Deshaun Watson and his receivers showed what they can do against a good defense. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Kenny Stills all played valuable parts in the pass game. While Hopkins and Fuller did most of the heavy lifting, Stills was the one that caught the two touchdown passes. When all are healthy, this offense is fun to watch.

-Carlos Hyde has been a godsend for this offense at times this season. He's the perfect back for this system: big, strong, enough speed to make outside runs, and durable. With his 10 yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter, he got to 1,008 yards on the season. He's earned himself another contract, but will the Texans be the ones who give it to him?

-Whitney Mercilus made an appearence today! He managed to catch an interception off a bobbled pass when the Titans had the ball first and goal on the five yard line. Not only did he make the heads up play, he returned it 86 yards to the Titan 12 yard line. This led to a Watson to Stills touchdown hookup.

The Bad

-In the first half the Titans averaged 5.9 yards per play (7.5 per pass and 4.3 per run). Had they not come up with that tipped pick and a blocked field goal, the defense would've looked much worse to start the game. They followed that up by giving up a 15 play 76 yard touchdown drive that took up 9:26 of the 3rd quarter on Titans' opening possession of the second half.

-With 3:39 left in the game on third and goal from the six, the Titans out of timeouts, and the team up 21-14, Bill O'Brien decided to call a pass play. Watson couldn't find anyone open and ended up throwing the ball away and stopping the clock. Anybody with half a brain knew what was coming with Duke Johnson in the game instead of Hyde. That should've been a run to keep the clock going. Luckily Ka'imi Fairbairn made the kick to give them a 24-14 lead. Another example of poor play-calling and clock management by O'Brien.

-Tony Romo botched Charles Omenihu's name three different ways during the Titans' goal line push towqards their first touchdown. As good as Romo is, and considering he's working with the pro of all pros Jim Nantz (who ended up correcting him), this shouldn't happen. I know for a fact there are pronunciations of names on media guides readily available. This is a nitpick/pet peeve of mine because I can't stand when it happens to me.

The Ugly

-Texans have only scored three points on their opening possessions this year. It continued in this game as they were within field goal range when Watson threw a pick thinking Duke Johnson was open in the end zone. Titans' defense was disguised as man, then switched to cover two after the snap and baited Watson into the poor throw.

-Speaking of poor throws, Watson threw another pick, this time it was off a tipped pass when he tried to gun it in there on the five yard line with goal to go. There was far too much traffic in the middle of the field for Watson to attempt that pass. Making the right throw is part of his maturation process, but plays like this take points off the board. Doing it twice in one game can prove fatal to your chances at winning.

-Lack of a pass rush is frustrating. Ryan Tannehill had time to pack a picnic lunch, lay out a blanket, eat a sandwich, feed his wife grapes, and still had time left over to complete passes. There was even time for him in the pocket even when the Texans' blitzed. It took 51 minutes before they recorded a sack of Tannehill!

Coming off the heels of what could be argued as the worst loss of the O'Brien era, or Texans history, the Texans faced on of the hottest teams in the league. They managed to keep their L-W-W pattern alive despite almost tripping themselves. On of the better moves O'Brien made was pulling Chris Clark and inserting Roderick Johnson at right tackle early on in the game. He also made several questionable calls as well. This game wasn't as close as the score indicated in my opinion. The Titans got two turnovers from the Texans in scoring position and a couple big plays that lead to scores. If the Texans can stop shooting themselves, they might actually have a shot at making a run in the playoffs. The Bucs and their vertical passing attack present more of a test for their beleaguered secondary and invisible pass rush.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

What happened with Earl Thomas? Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The past 48 hours have been a roller coaster of a ride for the Houston Texans. They went from a team on the verge of upgrading their secondary with one of the best defensive backs of the past decade in Earl Thomas, to conflicting reports to why the workout had stalled.

After hearing from head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien Wednesday morning via Zoom, here is a complete timeline of the events that took place between the Texans and their debacle with Thomas' workout, featuring the one and only — coronavirus.

A.J. Moore's injury opens the door for the Texans to sign Earl Thomas

When the Texans dropped their third consecutive game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston also lost safety A.J. Moore in the process. The 24-year-old defensive back from Mississippi left Sunday's game with a severe hamstring injury and did not return. Monday morning, the Texans announced that Moore could miss up to three weeks.

With Moore placed on injured reserve, O'Brien and his staff felt it was time to search the free agency pool in hopes of finding a player who can help fill in the empty void at safety. Although several players on the market could have stepped in for the injured Moore (i.e. Eric Reid and HaHa Clinton Dix), the Texans arranged a workout for free-agent Earl Thomas set for Tuesday, September 29. Thomas — along with several other players — made their way to Houston late Monday afternoon for their respective workouts.

Thomas' fit with the Texans & "signing this week is more likely than not"

Albeit Thomas' potential signing would have been a replacement for the injured Moore, the seven-time Pro-Bowler would have made an immediate impact on the Texans' secondary.
During his lone season with the Baltimore Ravens, Thomas, 31, proved he can still be a productive player on the field — despite being a year removed from a broken leg he sustained during his final season in Seattle.
In 2019, he re-established himself as a Pro-Bowl safety with 72 tackles (32 solo hits), six QB hit, and two sacks on the season. However, Thomas' best attribute to a team remains his pass coverage abilities, as he registered four pass deflections, four interceptions and only allowed 44% of passes (25 targets) to be completed in pass coverage.
In comparison to the Texans, Justin Reid has been Houston's most reliable DB through the first three games of the season, as he has only allowed 50% of passes to be completed in pass coverage. The second-best for Houston has been Vernon Hargreaves — who is allowing close to 70% of completions in pass coverage (66.7%) thus far.
The arrival of Thomas would have been a steal for Houston. However, with the narrative of being a locker room cancer, it appeared that the Texans were willing to look beyond Thomas' flaws in character. Late-Monday evening, all signs pointed toward a potential signing that was "more likely than not, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Virus outbreak alters Thomas' workout with the Texans

Early Tuesday morning, O'Brien and his staff received a call from the league office stating that eight members of the Tennessee Titans (now nine) tested positive for the Coronavirus. The NFL's first outbreak of COVID-19 led to several teams around the league to alter their plans for the week — including the Texans.

O'Brien said instead of having Thomas — along with several other players — held up in a hotel due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID; they felt it was in everyone's best interest to cancel all workouts scheduled for Tuesday. But instead of rescheduling, the Texans ceased Thomas' workout.

Speculations to why Houston canceled Thomas' workout altogether spread like wildfire. The most discussed reason, "the Texans decided Earl Thomas was not a good fit for their locker room." Both parties credited the latter. And late-Tuesday night, the outspoken future Hall-Of-Famer confirmed via Instagram that COVID was the reason behind his nixed workout with the Texans.

Ahead of practice Wednesday morning, O'Brien reaffirmed that Thomas' canceled workout was nothing more than concerns surrounding COVID. He has not ruled out the possibility of revisiting Thomas in the near future, so a potential signing could be put on hold for the time being.

"Earl Thomas is a hell of a player, he's had a great career," O'Brien said. "We had a bunch of guys in and we decided to cancel. We'll see how it goes moving forward. That's really what it was. It's not anything other than that. We've got a lot of respect for Earl."

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome