3 headlines, 2 questions, and 1 bet on the heels of a Texans win over the Falcons
Watson as good as ever as line does best job of season
Watson's huge day
At least 3 games with 5 Pass TDs & 0 INT in the Super Bowl era:— ESPN (@espn) October 6, 2019
🔷 Drew Brees (7)
🔷 Tom Brady (6)
🔷 Peyton Manning (5)
🔷 Ben Roethlisberger (5)
🔷 Aaron Rodgers (4)
🔷 Deshaun Watson (3)
(📍 @trulyseltzer) pic.twitter.com/aPWjke4pf4
Deshaun Watson was shredding record books when he started his career with the Texans. Last year, there were less records to fall but he's back to his old ways now.
Watson was incredible on Sunday and head coach Bill O'Brien put a lot of the credit on Watson and what he sees.
He mentioned Watson deserves the accolades for seeing the openings in the defense and making the right decision. On Monday he reiterated that Watson makes the plays based off the information he sees pre-snap as well as what he sees as the play is happening.
O'Brien also joked they practice the dribble fumble play all the time.
Jokes aside, Watson is clearly a high-level decision maker now. Even when the offensive line is shaky, which it wasn't Sunday, he isn't making a lot of wild plays like in his first year and early in his second year. He has just one interception this season
The Falcons did Watson a favor thinking they could get pressure with just four, but even when blitzed Watson made the right plays more often than not. Pro Football Focus credits him with one incomplete pass in eight attempts which led to 75 yards passing and one touchdown.
Keeping it clean
No sacks. No quarterback hits. Just a handful of pressures. The Texans offensive line had their best performance of the season.
It also saw the return of what is the hopeful starting offensive line for the rest of the season. Zach Fulton was back at right guard and the improvement over Greg Mancz was noticeable.
We said last week in this space they were close to turning a corner and now with hopefully health and consistency they can continue to put together complete games. Not only did they keep Watson clean but they were able to get more than a few successful runs out of Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde. Deshaun Watson's rushing isn't usually the offensive line so we don't count that in the success.
"They did a good job," O'Brien said. "They had a good week. They worked hard. They put in extra time and everybody did. I mean, again the sacks are, everybody's involved."
Class is in session
SportsMap's own Jake Asman asked Deshaun Watson for a repeat performance of what he saw from his opponent's defense and sure enough, Watson delivered.
I very much hope this continues. I also hope NFL quarterbacks will replicate what Watson is doing. Defenders too. The average football fan is smarter than ever and hardcore fans love picking up an extra nugget or two about scheme.
Can the special teams get fixed?
After what was a fairly solid year on special team last year, the Texans have been unspectacular on special teams this year.
Kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn has missed three extra points and has missed two field goals this season. One of those was a 56-yard attempt as time expired in the first half in Los Angeles. Not going to crush him too hard for that, 56-yard field goals aren't easy. The other was just over 50 yards, at home, and likely should have been a make.
Again, I'm not super worried about the kicking yet, but there is definitely something to the misses of the extra points that needs to get shored up. The Texans play close games. They can't afford to give away a point here or there.
"He's got to make the kicks," O'Brien said.
DeAndre Carter became a topic of the special teams as well. He had a muffed punt with the team up two scores late that let Atlanta get in position to make it a one score game. Later in the game he caught a kickoff near the sideline. The officials ruled he was out of bounds when he made contact with the ball, which is a penalty on the kicking team, but replays showed otherwise. The Texans should have had the ball where Carter caught it as he came down in bounds and went out of bounds.
"I'm not concerned about DeAndre Carter at all," O'Brien said.
O'Brien said he believed Carter would see what he made mistakes on in film and correct them. Carter is almost a yard better on punt returns than his season with the Texans last year.
The Texans also had three special teams penalties yesterday. Two on punts that cost them 18 total yards and one on Fairbairn's final extra point that was declined because he missed it.
Can the Texans replicate the Colts gameplan?
The Colts smashed the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. They were physical and slowed the high-flying Chiefs defense to one of their worst performances in Patrick Mahomes time as the starter.
What jumped off the screen is the play of the Colts offensive line pushing around a Chiefs defense, albeit a banged up Chiefs defense, for the better part of four quarters. They controlled the clock, shortened the game, and matched their physical offensive play on defense as well.
Let's not get too excited with the Colts figuring out the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill still isn't back and Sammy Watkins was hobbled. Plus there were multiples injuries to the offensive line and even Mahomes' ankle.
I bet Sunday is a shootout
I would expect the Chiefs will give Tyreek Hill a go even if he isn't 100 percent. The injury report will be important this week for both teams as the Chiefs had a multitude of people banged up on both lines as well as the mentioned wideout issues.
Kenny Stills on the back of Will Fuller's big day would be quite the crew to prepare for this weekend for Kansas City. I don't anticipate either defense slowing down the other consistently so turnovers and big plays should decide Sunday.