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

Wasted time on clock while Stills wastes none

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.

NFL Week 11

NFL Week 11: Good, bad and ugly

Jenna Watson, Indy Star

Week 11 in the NFL is in the books. We saw great performances, even better celebrations, and perhaps some of the worst calls from officials. Here's how I saw it play out:

The Good

-The Colts' offensive lineman Quenton Nelson thought he scored on a fullback dive and what ensued was a celebration that should be top 5 this season: they simulated a keg stand and used a fellow lineman as the human keg! Was it choreographed? Of course. But these guys get style point nonetheless because it's something we haven't seen before. He didn't get in after review, but the celebration was still awesome.
-Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had himself a game against the Lions. The Cowboys needed all 444 of his passing yards and three touchdowns to beat the hapless Lions who were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. This was one of those games in which his contract demands went up like a good day at the Stock Market. But just like the market, it can fall quickly.
-The Patriots defense is for real. Despite their one hiccup against potential league MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, they've been lights out. They beat the Eagles 17-10 and held the Eagles to only 255 total yards, sacked Carson Wentz five times, and held them to 3.9 yards per pass and the same per run. The aforementioned Prescott and Cowboys come to Foxboro next week and should present another test.

The Bad

-The Falcons have won their last two games by a combined score of 55-12. Not only did they dominate, but they beat the top two teams in their division. Why would I say this is bad? Because they're only 3-7 after those two wins! This team is way too talented to have that bad of a record after 10 games. Their Super Bowl hangover has lasted two seasons now!

-The 3-6 Broncos were up 23-7 over the Vikings heading into the 4th quarter in Minnesota. They ended the day 3-7 after giving up 20 unanswered points. They only committed one turnover which was a first half interception that the Vikings failed to do anything with. They simply stopped being able to move the ball or stop the Vikings from scoring. Remember when they decided to stand pat at the trade deadline? Wondering if Broncos general manager John Elway is regretting that decision now?

-Here's a reminder that the Bears moved up from #3 to #2 unnecessarily to draft Mitchell Trubisky and passed on Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky went 24/43 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, as well as getting sacked once. Not only do they have kicker issues, but the guy pulling the trigger for them sucks. Guess having the TVs off at Halas Hall to drown out the noise didn't help.

The Ugly

-Broncos fullback Andy Janovich suffered a gruesome injury Sunday. The injury occurred when he caught a short pass and tried to brace himself for the tackle, but ended up dislocating his elbow. It was so bad, CBS refused to show any replays of the play. Think of the Alex Smith leg injury, but at the elbow.

-Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph were at the center of a melee Thursday night. It started with Rudolph being a jackass and trying to rip Garrett's helmet off after he got hit. Garrett, in turn, ripped Rudolph's helmet off and managed to hit him with it which sparked an all out brawl between the two teams. A number of guys were suspended and/or fined, but Garrett received an indefinite suspension. Sure it's not wise to hit a guy with a helmet after ripping it off, but an indefinite suspension is a bit much NFL.

-Pass interference is the new catch rule. Remember a few years ago when the league tried to define waht was and wasn't a catch, only they never really did and we're still all not sure? Pass interference is now the same thing. In the 49ers vs Cardinals game, Cardinals linebacker Joe Walker was flagged for PI after 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk tackled him! Texans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was interferred with at least twice on one play, no flag was thrown and the ruling on the field was upheld upon challenge. Seriously, something needs to be done because the refs simply aren't doing their jobs when it comes to the calls and challenges.

By opening Pandora's Box on being able to review pass interference, I don't think the league and competition committee really took into consideration human nature. How likely is a ref to admit he or one of his crew messed something up? On the other hand, it's been great seeing the celebrations the last couple years. For as much as we bitch and complain about things in the league, it's pretty healthy. Games are good, young players are stepping up as new stars, but there's still much left to be desired. We'll all keep coming back for more because the product is so enjoyable and popular. It's like that one restaurant you go to time and again despite the service not being up to par, but the food is so good, you don't mind paying the prices they charge.

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