What did week 10 in the NFL tell us about the Texans?

Week 10 results that mean something to the Texans

Deshaun Watson led the Texans in rushing. Steven Ryan/Getty Images

3 Headlines, 2 Questions, and 1 Bet after the Texans bye week. What week 10 results told us about the Texans

Lamar Jackson another clear hurdle in AFC

Lamar Jackson was perfect on Sunday. Yes, it was against the Bengals, but perfection should never be denied.

The ultimate hurdle in the AFC was Tom Brady. You almost always have to go through New England if you want to play in the Super Bowl. This year began with the added challenge of the MVP Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs.

Well, sub Mahomes out for Lamar Jackson and those nasty Ravens. The Texans will likely need to go through Baltimore or New England for their chance at a AFC Championship game.

The timing of course is fun with the Ravens hosting the Texans this weekend. It is one of the best showdowns left on the NFL schedule as Deshaun Watson clashes with another MVP candidate, and likely leader for the award.

Is the NFL sure they can't put this on Sunday night football?

Tennessee isn't going away

The Titans surprised the NFL, and Patrick Mahomes, pulling off one of the many upsets on Sunday.

They have a weapon that few in the NFL possess in Derrick Henry who was a monster in the second half of the season last year. There is little reason to think he won't be a force down the stretch for the Titans again.

Ryan Tannehill has breathed life into a Titans team that looked to be headed nowhere earlier in the year. The Titans have four AFC South games left, including both of their games with the Texans. They aren't going to lose all of those and they're a threat to win them all too.

Their offensive line is shaky as it has been in a long time. Their defense is banged up but their bye week hits this week so they should get a little healthier. They have enough to annoy any good team, and as evidenced on Sunday, beat them. Tennessee might not make the playoffs, but they can keep someone else from making the playoffs.

Colts sunk with Hoyer as quarterback

This isn't Hoyer's fault. Not by a long shot. The Colts are just very limited with him and any mistakes get magnified. The Dolphins are playing their asses off but they don't have the talent that should hold offenses to 12 points.

They also have a flawed kicking game right now. Their defense is solid, very solid in fact, but if they can't put up points they will be in trouble.

Jacoby Brissett coming back is a must for them to stay in the hunt in the AFC. If he gets banged up at all, or isn't 100 percent, the Colts are not a danger to make the playoffs.

Do you think the Rams regret paying Jared Goff?

Jared Goff has the worst contract in the NFL. I am sure of it. The Rams rushed to pay a guy Sean McVay propped up after they rushed to pay their running back. The only guy they've paid on schedule and had it make sense was Aaron Donald and they played hard ball with him.

Goff has regressed and so has the whole Rams offense. They scored zero offensive points coming out of a bye. I get the Steelers have had some success on defense but that's a joke for what should be a top offense. Goff is a huge problem right now and so is Gurley. They might be saving Gurley for later in the year but those games might be meaningless.

Goff had shown very little that was extremely unique. Sure, he made some big throws and had a lot of success but there were a lot of plays most quarterbacks can make. If you are going to make a player the highest paid in the league at his position, make sure he does something other players can't do.

That's where Deshaun Watson comes in. He is special, regularly makes plays only he can make, or maybe one or other guy. Watson will likely head to the table this offseason to talk about beating Goff's deal. He will be worth it, or close to it, unlike Goff.

Do you think the Texans regret not paying Jadeveon Clowney?

I believe the answer is no.

Do they perhaps regret not paying him for one year and getting one last season out of him?

Sure. Easy to say now. He was a monster on Monday against the 49ers. The entire league was watching, including Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins who tweeted about the performance. It was a typical dominant Clowney performance. And, the first of the season from Clowney. He has been pedestrian for the Seahawks at times. Sure, stretches of impressive play appeared. Clowney's best games before tonight were against the Bengals, Cardinals, and Falcons.

Plenty of shots were taken at the Texans for dumping Clowney for a third round pick. He certainly seemed to have a bit more value than just a third round pick. Obviously if Clowney had been on board with the Miami idea the Dolphins wouldn't have ended up with so many draft picks.

2019 should have been the last season for Clowney in a Texans uniform. The defense could have used him, especially with the Watt injury. He could have built his value more in Houston than in Seattle.

Don't forget, the Texans did Clowney a favor. In his own words, Clowney said he was planning to report until the Texans told him he was going to be traded. Houston could have not said anything to Clowney, let him report, and then traded him wherever they wanted. Regardless of Clowney's wishes.

I bet the Bills have a collapse in them

The Bills have six wins already. They still have contests with the Broncos, Cowboys, Ravens, Steelers, and Patriots. All these games are very possible losses for Buffalo. Not to mention, the Dolphins are no slouches right now and the Jets at the end of the year could be rolling.

If Buffalo falls apart, it won't shock me. If they hang tough and annoy more than a few teams, it won't surprise me either. The Bills making the playoffs would make them ripe for the picking for whatever team ends up hosting them.

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Here's what the data tells us about Bregman. Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Alex Bregman had a rough season in 2020 by his standards. He slashed .242/.350/.451 in 42 regular season games. His regular season included a trip to the 10-day IL for a hamstring strain he suffered in mid-August. His surface-level struggles continued in the postseason, where he slashed .220/.316/.300 in 13 games. However, that postseason sample size does include a tough luck game against the Tampa Bay Rays where he went 0-for-5 with five hard hit balls.

All-in-all, 2020 felt like a lost season for Bregman. He never really got going. He got off to a slow start, but he's always been a slow starter. Once he started to pick it up, he strained his hamstring, and he played poorly after returning from the hamstring strain. Then, he started to turn his batted ball quality around in the playoffs, but he hit into a lot of tough luck outs.

Hard Hit % - 33.6%

Barrel % - 3.9%

K% - 14.4%

BB% - 13.3%

Chase % - 18.1%

Bregman comes from the Michael Brantley school of hitters. He has elite plate discipline and elite bat-to-ball skills. This makes Bregman a fairly consistent hitter. That may sound odd considering his 2020 "struggles" but even an extended period of poor performance for him resulted in a .801 OPS and a 122 wRC+. If his valleys are still 22% better than the league average hitter, then that's a pretty reliable producer.

There aren't any alarming trends in Bregman's statistics. Yes, his K% was slightly up, his BB% is slightly down, but it isn't a massive difference in either category. His Chase % was up, but again, 18.1% is elite discipline. The biggest drop was in his Hard Hit%, where he fell from 38% to 33.6%. Even so, his average exit velocity only dropped .4 MPH, so there's not really a catastrophic trend here.

His .254 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) was low, but he's never put up really high BABIP numbers. In fact, his BABIP has gotten worse every year of his career, from .317 to .311 to .289 to .281 to .254. While his BABIP will likely spike back up next year, it isn't enough to be the difference between the 2019 and 2020 versions of himself. His xBA and xSLG weren't out of whack either. His .256 xBA isn't much better than his .240 AVG, and his .400 xSLG is actually worse than his .451 SLG.

Bregman is as forthcoming with his hitting mechanics, approach, and mental cues as any big leaguer out there. Here is what he had to say about his swing this year. This was a Zoom press conference with the media following the Astros game on September 25th against the Rangers.

Bregman says he wants to hit balls in the air to the pull side and on a line to the opposite field, but in reality, he was hitting flares to the opposite field and hitting them on the ground to the pull side.

The data mostly backs up that claim. In 2019, on balls hit to the pull side, Bregman had an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH at an average launch angle of 16°, a 40% Hard Hit %, and a 16% HR%. Since Bregman has elite bat-to-ball skills, most of those metrics didn't change. In 2020, his average exit velocity was 90.6, essentially the same as 2019. His Hard Hit % was 42%, a touch better than in 2019. However, his average launch angle dipped from 16° to 11°, which contributed to his HR% dropping all the way to 9%. Bregman hit 47% of his pull side swings on the ground. In 2019, that number was 40%. He absolutely had less production to the pull side in 2020.

The data gets a little hazier going the opposite way when comparing 2019 to 2020, as Bregman actually performed slightly better to the opposite field in 2020 than 2019, but he also only had 20 batted balls to the opposite field all season. Considering the small sample size, it isn't worth diving too deep into the data.

He's right that most of the balls he hit that way were flares. He had an average exit velocity of 83.4 MPH with an average launch angle of 32°, but that's about the same as what he did in 2019. A lot of the statistical drop off comes from balls that were backspun rockets to the pull side in 2019 becoming top spinners or roll overs in 2020.

Bregman also performed horribly against breaking balls in 2020. He batted .150 with a .250 SLG against them in 2020. He had an 84 MPH Average Exit Velocity against them and whiffed 26.5% of the time against them.

It was a far cry from 2019, when he hit .265 with a .588 SLG, 87 MPH average exit velo, and whiffed 18% of the time.

Those numbers lend credence to his statement on his mechanics. It's tough for a hitter to have adjustability against breaking balls if he's blowing out his front side and pulling off of the baseball.

Bregman will spend the offseason working on these mechanical fixes and getting back to the hitter he used to be. If he's consistently hitting the ball in the air to the pull side next year, and he's performing better against breaking balls, then he should be right back in the mix for AL MVP.

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