Winless Texans are 6-point favorites over visiting Jaguars

This is the week the Texans get going. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

"It's brutal. I mean, it's depressing. It sucks. This sucks."

J.J. Watt had identical thoughts as most Texans fans leaving NRG Stadium on Sunday after the Texans lost 31-23 to the Minnesota Vikings (1-3). The defeat buried their record in an even deeper hole at 0-4 for the first time since 2008.

The last team to make the playoffs after starting 0-4? The 1992 San Diego Chargers.

One thing is certain: Bill O'Brien seemed more concerned about posing for a photo with former Texans coaches, Dom Capers and Gary Kubiak, before Sunday's clash, rather than game planning to keep his job.

Fantastic. O'Brien is finally out and Texans fans can take a deep breath. But Cal McNair still owes the city an explanation about the defensive side of the ball.

While O'Brien was trying to save his job by taking over play calling, defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver was struggling to get his guys off the field for the fourth time this year.

Issues on defense

Vikings offensive coordinator Kubiak employed the Vikings' effective run game to ruin his former employers Sunday. For the fourth week in a row, the Texans gave up 160-plus rushing yards. Dalvin Cook dodged and weaved through the Texans weak front line, racking up 130 yards and two touchdowns.

The last team to give up 160 or more yards in the first four games of a season? The 1995 Arizona Cardinals who finished 4-12.

It wasn't just the run game that Kubiak used to outthink the Texans. The Vikings air game exposed the secondary that was sleeping most of the game. If cornerback Vernon Hargreaves wasn't getting bulldozed by Cook in the end zone, it was receiver Justin Jefferson beating him downfield en route to his second 100-yard game in a row (four receptions for 103 yards).

In addition to Cousins and Jefferson finding their chemistry, Cousins had good fortune linking up with wide receiver Adam Thielen all game long. Thielen caught eight balls for 114 yards and a touchdown. Although Whitney Mercilus showed much-needed life and sacked Cousins twice, the Vikings quarterback was still able to eat up large chunks of yardage, averaging 13.7 yards per target.

Despite putting pressure on Cousins on pass plays, there was no evidence of the Texans setting the edge to defend the run. It was especially apparent on a 4th-down play when Kubiak dialed up a sweep with Cousins, who successfully found the edge.

Onto the Jags

Looking forward, the Texans are 6-point favorites over the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday. The spread seems high for a winless Texans team. has the over/under at 54. Jacksonville is giving up 30 plus points per game.

Hopes are high for Houston now that Deshaun Watson is free from the reins of O'Brien. Deshaun Watson and play caller (for the moment) Tim Kelly will have control of the offense.

This will be interim coach Romeo Crennel's first game at the Texans helm. The Texans will face another dangerous run assault led by September's offensive rookie of the month James Robinson. Although Robinson does not possess the power of Dalvin Cook, he is a young, hungry threat that must be shadowed.

I will be looking for a lockdown week from the Texans secondary. The Jags only have one receiver, D.J. Chark, who poses a downfield threat. Chark has caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Gardner Minshew. Look for cornerback Bradley Roby to match-up well with Chark.

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Watson was missing from practice again. Photo by Zach Tarrant/

The Houston Texans had their second day in pads and it was a bright day for a couple of rookies.

1. Deshaun Watson was absent again from practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly explained the team is keeping Watson "engaged" and he has been helpful in the meeting room with the offense.

2. Watson, if Kelly is telling the truth, can absolutely help the quarterbacks with his knowledge. The offense shouldn't be that different, and Watson doesn't have anything against the quarterbacks specifically. It is strange to think Deshaun Watson would be helping the quarterbacks while actively wanting to be playing elsewhere, but Kelly has no reason to lie about Watson's level of engagement.

3. It was Roy Lopez day on Wednesday. The rookie defensive lineman had a sack and is quite the load to handle upfront. Lopez will have to build on these days to earn time on a busy defensive line but if he repeats this day, people will have to beat him out.

4. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins finds himself open quite a bit. Collins isn't afraid of traffic, though there aren't any real big hits in training camp. Collins' athleticism is very clear and as he grows more, he should earn more opportunities.

5. Brandin Cooks threw his hands up and let out an exasperated sound as Tyrod Taylor found Collins wide open in the middle of the field. Cooks was even more wide open in the end zone, and Taylor didn't see him.

6. Tyrod Taylor's legs will be a weapon in this offense. Taylor doesn't take off in a lot of the drills, but his mobility is apparent. Taylor did run into a sack by defensive lineman Derek Rivers.

7. Veteran wide receiver Chris Conley is extremely athletic and speedy. Conley can get vertical on all the defensive backs. In a pass-catching drill Conley wowed. The drill consisted of a coach wearing a pad and attacking the wideouts on a jump ball. Conley skied, ripped the ball out of the air, and withstood the attack from the coach easily coming down on both feet. Conley would make the team if the season started tomorrow.

8. Tight end Pharaoh Brown had a great catch beating Justin Reid for a touchdown on a pass from Tyrod Taylor. Reid was very upset he lost the rep. Brown was solid last year and he remains one of the better tight ends on the team.

9. Linebacker Neville Hewitt has had some flashes in camp. Hewitt had over 100 tackles for the Jets last year to go along with 12 tackles for a loss over the past two seasons. Hewitt had a hurry on Tuesday and a pass breakup on Wednesday. Hewitt is certainly in consideration for a spot in the revamped linebacker room.

10. Defensive linemen Charles Omenihu and Jonathan Greenard each had sacks in a team period. Omenihu's rep was a forced fumble and Greenard darted through the middle of the line for his successful rep.

11. Tytus Howard had a hold your breath moment when he slowly got off the ground and gingerly walked off the field. Howard had to walk it off, but returned to practice with no issue. He has played a multitude of positions in training camp.

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