O'Brien's clock issues rear their ugly head again

Wasted time on clock while Stills wastes none

Texans Bill O'Brien
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet on the Texans after their first victory of 2019.

Tighten it up on time

After the game Sunday Bill O'Brien didn't initially address the issues at the end of the half.

"Again, we had a couple of plays there that we wanted to call," he said. "We called all three or four of them, I think, and we felt like we were in good shape there to have a chance to score a touchdown there on the catch by Kenny (Stills) down at the 2-yard line. He was a little short of where we thought maybe he would be. We had another good play there, good little red area play, just didn't get the right coverage there and made a decision to kick the field goal."

Later after he was pressed further he declined the notion they should have used timeouts to preserve time on the drive but did indicate he believed they could tighten up getting into plays.

Monday he explained they they have to work on all their tempos and that they all go at different speeds.

Here are the plays and times after the two-minute warning.

01:55 - Jordan Akins is tackled after picking up a first down. Watson got under center at 01:26 left on the clock.

01:20 - Carlos Hyde is whistled down after a five yard gain.

00:51 - Watson takes a snap and is incomplete downfield to Keke Coutee

00:40 - DeAndre Hopkins is whistled down after a first down catch. The Texans snap the ball at the 00:22 mark and Watson scrambles for a short gain where they use their first timeout at 00:16.

As you can see here with two timeouts leftover when they headed to halftime the Texans burned quite a bit of clock. Two segments of almost 30 seconds and another 20 seconds later. Ultimately when they only get one play in the red zone, and it isn't the look they expected or wanted and it doesn't go for points, they cost themselves by not using timeouts.

This is again an issue with O'Brien and his ability to manage the clock. He lets time tick off here for little gain. Yes, they might like the personnel on the field and a timeout gives Jacksonville a chance to matchup with the Texans but it also gives the Texans more opportunity to score a touchdown rather than a field goal.

Cunningham shines

Zach Cunningham played his tail off against the Jaguars. He was the most impressive defender outside of Whitney Mercilus and there is a solid argument he was more effective. He totaled nine tackles and got home on a sack of Gardner Minshew.

O'Brien praised Cunningham's performance.

"He played a great football game," O'Brien said. "He was all over the place.

Debuts in the books at three key spots

First round pick Tytus Howard, wideout Keke Coutee, and Roderick Johnson made their season debuts.

Coutee had little impact from a stat sheet catching two of his four targets for just seven yards. O'Brien called him rusty and he is still working back from a preseason injury that caused him to miss time. Kenny Stills has been a useful player and allowed the Texans to play around with the alignment of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins.

Howard and Johnson were new starters on the offensive line and played decent. Howard was called for a tripping penalty that O'Brien said he agreed with that wiped out a big play. The right side allowed two of the sacks with Johnson whiffing on a block of Myles Jack. The other sack allowed was when a defensive back split Johnson and Fulton for a clear shot at Deshaun Watson.

Overall there are higher expectations for Coutee going forward than what we saw Sunday. If he can knock the rust off in a hurry the Texans wideouts will be nasty.

Howard and Johnson need to continue to grow in their roles. Johnson wasn't an absolutely clear upgrade over Seantrell Henderson but Howard is better than any other option at left guard right now.

Where's the yellow?

One minute in on the above video you can hear J.J. Watt's frustration with the way he has been officiated this season. He will likely get fined, and he was ok with it he said, but there certainly could be more laundry on the field when looking at Watt's play.

Watt has had a slow start by every metric. He has two assists on tackles and a quarterback hit to go along with a fumble recovery. He hasn't had an easy go of things with his matchup the past two weeks. Ryan Ramczyk is one of the best right tackles in football and Jawaan Taylor was a highly-touted rookie. Watt saw more help thrown his way this week than last.

Penalties or not, Watt is off to the worst two-game start of his career. There are only two instances in his career where his two-game total production has come close to the level it has to start 2019. In 2015 he had a two-game stretch where he totaled four tackles, three QB hits, and a pass deflection. In 2017 he had a two-game run where he had just two tackles and a pass deflection but the second game was where he broke his leg and his season ended.

He has value outside of the stat sheet but soon the Texans will need something close to the typical level of Watt's production.

Stills more to offer?

The Texans newest wideout only had two catches on three targets yesterday officially but he is picking things up fast. He also had a big gain and nice play wiped away by Tytus Howard's tripping penalty.

When asked how Stills has adapted so fast O'Brien said Stills is one of the hardest workers he has seen. He said Stills gets there early and stays late to pick up what he has missed.

He's fit seamlessly and he has one of the biggest catches of the Texans run with Deshaun Watson at quarterback with his New Orleans snag from week one. I am excited to see if he can continue to be used more and get deeper into the offense.

I bet the next six weeks determine the season

The Los Angeles Chargers are next up for the Texans and after their disappointing performance on Sunday against the Lions they don't look near as daunting as they once did. They're hurt, missing starters at left tackle and sfaety, and just didn't do enough against a mediocre Lions team. That is one week after the Colts cost themselves victory over the Chargers.

After the Chargers the reeling Panthers come to town. Carolina might be 0-3 coming to NRG stadium as they have a road matchup in Arizona.

October will truly determine the Texans season.

vs Falcons

at Chiefs

at Colts

vs Raiders

The Falcons are fresh off a Sunday night success against Philadelphia. The Chiefs are one of the best teams in football. The Colts have played two playoff hopefuls tough and the Raiders aren't pushovers. This next six-game stretch could determine how much the final eight matters. 4-2 would be an incredible spot to be in for the Texans but even 3-3 over the next six should have them in striking distance of the AFC South. Can't get too far ahead though, the Chargers in Los Angeles loom this weekend.

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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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