Texans Week 4: 3 Headlines, 2 questions 1 bet

Will Fuller is injured again. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Second Half Defensive Failure

For the first time, all season, the Texans defense looked lost in the second half allowing 21 points to the Colts and another three points in overtime. The Colts converted 80 percent of their third-down plays. Indianapolis averaged 8.4 yards per play in the second half. The middle of the field was constantly open for Andrew Luck and when it wasn't the cushions from the Texans defense allowed him to make a play. They did a poor job of forcing Luck to consistently make tough throws. 

The Colts helped the Texans out in overtime too. They were driving with ease and on third and two deep in Houston territory the Colts wideout dropped an easy first down forcing them to settle for a field goal. Even on the Colts final offensive play, the gutsy call to go for it, Luck made a bad pass with no pressure. 

Tyrann Mathieu said after the game the Texans won but it wasn't the way they wanted to win. He's right. The defense will have a lot of wounds to lick and can't allow a quarterback like Dak Prescott to get going like Luck did or they will again struggle. 

Injuries Piling Up

Will Fuller missed the second half of the game yesterday with a hamstring injury. Lamar Miller was "banged up" according to Bill O'Brien which led to the use of Alfred Blue down the stretch. Aaron Colvin is likely out for a long stretch with his serious ankle injury, maybe the season. Kendall Lamm left the game with what looked like an apparent shoulder injury. 

One injury going the Texans way, not an injury per say but a player recovering from last season's injury is Deshaun Watson. He looks much closer to his 2017 self. O'Brien hinted Watson's health and how he feels allows them to run different things with the offense. 

Lamm Plays Well at Tackle

Kendall Lamm got the nod at right tackle in the game over Julién Davenport and played pretty well. Lamm has been with the organization for years now and recently was the left tackle for the team when Duane Brown held out. He was quickly benched for Chris Clark in 2017 and was on and off the roster. Back this year, Lamm looked to be the team's fourth tackle after winning a spot out of training camp. When Seantrell Henderson was lost to the season he slid into the swing tackle spot and this week was inserted for Davenport. 

There wasn't a reason for optimism for Lamm's start due to his lack of success in the NFL, but after this game, there should be a little optimism. Lamm did allow one sack on a really bad play where he whiffed on his block allowing the Colts defender to wreck the play but he kept Watson pretty clean on a day when he Watson got sacked a bunch. Lamm played better than Davenport had played and that's enough for him to earn the next start at right tackle. If he and Martinas Rankin at left tackle could provide average protection the ultimate success of the offense could be impressive. Now to see if his shoulder injury is something to linger. 

Was Coutee's success a fluke or start of something new?

The debut for Keke Coutee couldn't have gone much better. Maybe if he could erase that one early drop you could call it perfect. It was as near-perfect as you could ask from a rookie playing in his first NFL game. Remember, Coutee missed the preseason games as well. This is his legit first NFL action. He was amazing hauling in 11 catches for 109 yards. He consistently was open and even after Will Fuller departed due to injury. Coutee's success was dynamic too. He had 7 of his 13 touches go for 10-plus yards and 92 of 109 yards were yards after catch (YAC). 

It could be even better. Bill O'Brien has twice harped on Coutee fixing the things he did poorly and alluded to yards left on the field in his comments about the rookie. Coutee's success also didn't come at the expense of other wide receivers as Hopkins and Fuller still both made big plays for the team. If the tight ends come along Coutee's success gets even better. It isn't likely this is the standard but he could be even more effective as a cog in the offense going forward. 

Who is playing cornerback going forward?

Aaron Colvin's serious ankle injury likely keeps him out for the season and if not still a significant portion of time. Kevin Johnson isn't returning anytime soon. The team has been reluctant to use Johnson Bademosi at cornerback. That leaves Shareece Wright and Kayvon Webster as cornerbacks. Wright has been acceptable at corner. Webster hasn't played since injuring his Achilles last season. There is a possibility for Kareem Jackson to play corner, but he has been nice for the team at safety. 

The most-talent on the field equation right now would be Jackson and Johnathan Joseph at cornerback with Justin Reid and Tyrann Mathieu at safety. Then when they need to have three cornerbacks Wright can play outside with Jackson going inside. The free agent market is slim and the practice squad has too much inexperienced to rely on a player there. The secondary is quickly becoming a tricky situation. 

I bet the Texans have a really tough time with Demarcus Lawrence Sunday. He is the NFL sack leader with five and a half sacks and has been a terror in every game. He is second in the league in tackles for a loss. Bill O'Brien said he only thought two of the team's seven sacks against the Colts were on the actual offensive line saying other positions bear the blame for the rest. Whoever is responsible for Lawrence will be tasked with the near impossible. He is playing under the franchise tag and has set his sights on a huge year leading to a huge payday. Mission accomplished so far. He could very easily add to his highlight reel Sunday night. The Texans have a tall task trying to slow down the man known as "Tank" on the Dallas defense. 

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The Texans should swing for the fences. Composite image by Jack Brame.

With each passing day, the Deshaun drama thickens. It's progressed to Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeting, basically humbling himself to Deshaun.

A city that a few short weeks ago offered up mega star power across the board, has now seen James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and George Springer all depart for a variety of reasons. The impact of Deshaun leaving would be irreversible guaranteeing the Texans resting comfortably in the bottom of the AFC South for the next decade, wallowing in futility.

The saga will only intensify in two weeks should Patrick Mahomes collect another Lombard Trophy. As 2017 draft class contemporaries, Deshaun is comparing his career to #15. Another ring would place Mahomes up 2-0 in that discussion with Watson.

Perhaps the Texans should take a play from the Oilers playbook and inquire on Dabo Swinney. In the pursuit of securing the services of Warren Moon, the Oilers made a power play and secured the services of Moon's former CFL coach, Hugh Campbell. I've attended several luncheons and engagements in which Deshaun served as the keynote speaker. In many of those venues, a short video presentation would include personal greetings and feel good overtures directed to Deshaun from Dabo. The end result was Deshaun lighting up like a Christmas tree. There's a viable relationship in place there.

At the end of the day, Deshaun is a competitor. Losing DeAndre Hopkins was a major loss, but not to the degree that you might think. Deshaun still went out and threw for over 4,000 yards this season, and with a sub-par supporting cast, even pulling guys off of the practice squad in late December contests to fill out the receiving corps. The issue for Watson is trust, and culture. Hence, the recent headlines surrounding the Jets as a future home make very little sense. The Jets in 4 of their last 5 seasons have had double-digit losing seasons. Until the recent resurgence of the Browns, the Jets far and away have held the title of the "laughingstock" of the NFL.

The biggest challenge for the Texans is who could persuade Deshaun to stay? Could team President Jamey Rootes calm down the noise? It certainly won't come from Texans Ring of Honor recipient Andre Johnson. If I were Cal McNair, I would place a call to 105 Sikes Hall in Clemson, SC and ask for Dabo's office. That's as good of a place to start as any other.

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