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.
Screen grab of the three Texans head coaches that FOX ran. pic.twitter.com/3UGa0SNtWj
— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) October 4, 2020
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.
How did Cousins do this to the Texans pic.twitter.com/uWmKHdmbdS
— Will Doctor (@Doctor_w1) October 6, 2020
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. MyBookie.ag 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.
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!