Category Archives: Texans Posts

Texans Have Franchise QB In Deshaun Watson

 

Despite Sunday’s devastating loss in the final minute to Tom Brady and the Patriots, hope has been revitalized because Houston’s quarterback search looks to be finally over. Deshaun Watson put on performance on the road in a stadium where Texans quarterbacks have made a mockery of not only the team, but the city of Houston too.

Texans finally get it right at QB with Deshaun Watson

It is still sinking in that the Texans actually have a quarterback with his ability to avoid the rush, extend plays, and remain composed through it all to still complete a pass to the open man. In the 3rd quarter he avoided five Patriots rushers and they all at some point fell to the ground trying to get a hold of Watson, on this play Watson found D’Onta Foreman for a 30 yard gain.

This adds a huge layer to the Texans offense because opposing defenses are going to have to be on constant alert and not let up on their coverage or else they will be at risk of giving up plays.

Another refreshing phase of Deshaun Watson’s game is his athleticism and vision while running as a ball carrier.  We saw it against the Bengals when he scored the only touchdown of the game on his 49 yd rushing TD. Again, most quarterbacks would be forced to get rid of the ball, or take a sack but Watson has shown that when there is nothing there he can get the first down himself.

Watson’s speed and agility when changing directions makes him difficult to take down, NFL defenders are still adjusting to him. He has also been able to rush the ball but still be able to slide or fall down to avoid unnecessary punishment. Robert Griffin III (RG3) was never able to learn this skill and constantly took big hits when he decided to run.  Again, Watson rushing ability is another dimension that this offense desperately needs, especially with poor offensive line play.

O’Brien has received a lot of deserved criticism, but he deserves a little credit on his play-action heavy offense that allowed some things to open up for Watson. Watson sells the hand-off very well and the defense is forced for freeze for a moment to decipher the play allowing receivers to get separation they need.

Something to looking forward with Watson as a passer is that he is comfortable with throwing to spots and areas away from the defender. He did this on the touchdown passes to Bruce Ellington and Ryan Griffin.

Watson looked towards the sideline to Hopkins which caused Devin McCourty to step in that direction, which allowed for a more secure TD pass to Ellington. Ellington had to reach back a little bit for the reception but that may have been a matter of Watson not wanting McCourty to recover and bet able to knock the ball away.

The pass to Ryan Griffin was a thing of beauty, and it was nice seeing Griffin come alive for some big receptions.

It was encouraging seeing J.J. Watt picking up where he left off, starting the Pats game with back to back tackles for loss. As the game went on Watt was met with a lot of double teams which neutralized him. In week 1, Watt looked like though his best days were clearly behind him but I think it is safe to say Watt rapidly playing himself back to his DPOY level, even with a broken finger.

The Texans defense as a whole was being very physical, K. Jackson, A. Hal, and J. Joseph all laid out big hits. The front seven got after Tom Brady and roughed him up, but they needed a little more this group to overcome the big plays that were given up by the secondary.

As was the case in the playoff game against the Patriots back in January, Tom Brady was able complete back breaking passes by seemingly throwing up a prayer and letting his receiver come down with the ball.

Part of the issue in this game is that safeties J, Banks and M. Gilchrist are still new to the team, but against Brady there is a need for a good “center field’ type safety with the ball skills to make him pay for those gambles.

 

Texans Entering Third Preseason Game

As the Texans head into their third preseason game against the Saints the main focus of the starters should be to continue to fine tune things in preparation for the regular season. With the Texans having had practices sessions with both Patriots and Saints I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill O’Brien doesn’t play the starters the full 3 quarters. Tom Savage had an impressive showing last week against the Patriots, and did it with the added pressure from the prior week when Deshaun Watson out performed him. As long as Tom Savage looks decent against the Saints we should fully expect him to be the starter week 1. Since the day Watson was drafted Bill O’Brien was set of having Tom Savage be the starter, and the main reason seems to be because he wants his quarterback to have the entire playbook at his disposal.

The wide receivers group was starting to become very thin, Will Fuller is out for an extended period and Hopkins and Braxton Miller were not active for the Patriots game. But Bruce Ellington and Jaelen Strong had a big impact and made plays. Strong was creating space and running routes like a primary receiver, he looked like Brandon Marshall out there. On the Texans touchdown drive he manhandled Butler on one play, and later on the TD catch he flat out beat Butler with his footwork on an inside slant route for the score. The play would have been cleaner if Savage had thrown the pass into Strong’s path, instead he threw it high causing Strong to slow his route and elevate into the air to make the grab. Bruce Ellington came out of nowhere and all of a sudden might fit in as the slot receiver this team has been seeking for years now. He has the quick twitch explosiveness, speed and even made a great play on a ball deep along the sideline on Malcolm Butler.

Deshaun Watson didn’t make as much noise against the Patriots, but he performed well and scored a rushing TD for the 2nd consecutive week. The Texans definitely have a special player in Watson, and his time will come soon enough. The D’Onta Foreman is the real deal, and is going to allow the Texans to have a dangerous running attack. Last year the Texans had to rely heavily on Lamar Miller and force 20 + carries on him consistently which ultimately resulted him nursing nagging injuries. Foreman is showing the potential of a top ten type of running back, and with Alfred Blue looking good, and Tyler Ervin improving the Texans have great depth at RB.

Rockets Are Forced To Win Or Go Home

Rockets Inexplicably Lose In Overtime To The Spurs Without Kawhi

The Rockets blew a golden opportunity to go up on the Spurs 3-2 and finish the series in six like many predicted. Greg Popivich took out Kawhi Leonard with 35 seconds left in the 4th quarter, but the Rockets failed to capitalize.

After the game there was a lot of pessimism about the current predicament that the team is in, needing to go the full seven games advance to the Conference finals. The loss was indeed frustrating but if you look at the situation, things may still be more favorable for the Rockets other than having to play game seven in San Antonio.

Kawhi Leonard is the key cog for the Spurs, and Pop felt that his team would be better off without him on the floor in the final minutes of a must-win game. It was noticeable that Kawhi was in pain when he was jogging around during play before he was eventually pulled out.

You occasionally see players turn their ankle the way Kawhi did but not affect them the way his ankle seemed to be bothering him. Kawhi was also nursing his knee on the opposite leg before he hurt his ankle later in the game.

The Spurs were able to steal game 5 with huge efforts by Mills, Green, Ginobili, and Simmons. However, if Kawhi is playing at around 75% health or less that is going to be a huge blow for the Spurs in every facet. The Spurs wouldn’t be able to do what they did at the end of game 5 over the course of a whole game.

I don’t think Kawhi can get himself healthy enough in two days so the question is can he get himself healthy enough by Sunday in the series deciding game. If the Rockets can’t force game 7, even with a healthy Kawhi that is going to be really disappointing.

The game 5 loss came down to poor execution, unfortunate turnovers, and a little bit of fatigue at the end of both the 4th quarter and in overtime.

Things were looking positive with 2:33 seconds left in regulation when Eric Gordon sank a three-pointer which opened up after Harden drove to the basket. The score was then 99-94 and that should have given the Rockets all the momentum, but mental mistakes kept the Spurs alive.

Patty Mills drilled a three on the next possession, which could have been better defended by Patrick Beverly if he wasn’t concerned with trying to help on Aldridge in the lane. You absolutely cannot allow the Spurs to answer back with a 3-pointer, defending the 3 should have been the the main priority.

The Rockets followed that with a wasted possession when Harden drove to the basket but kicked out a bad pass to Beverly which caused him to step out of bounced.

A few games ago during the broadcast, Doug Collins made a good point about the Rockets’ philosophy of wanting to take only 3s and layups. This team philosophy causes possible good looks from mid-range areas to be passed up on in favor of a forced 3-point attempt or bad shot from inside the paint.

I don’t like seeing difficult last second 3-point attempts that are thrown up with the game in the balance. This happened with 1:22 left and the score 99-99, Harden throws up a 3-pointer with 8 seconds on the clock and Ginobili guarding him.

The referees made some questionable calls in pivotal moments, and a play that baffles me was Ginobili’s layup that tied the game 101-101 with 34.5 seconds left. Capela was switched into guarding Ginobili and as he drove into the lane for the lay up Capela’s path was blatantly impeded by Aldridge’s left arm, who already had Eric Gordon sealed off in the paint.

That was a missed call by the referees because Capela was right there to defend and likely blocks Ginobili, but Aldridge pushed him off his path.

The next play Harden was the one called for an offensive foul because Simmons flopped on a slight push off. There are probably a hundred push offs that go on during the course of a game and somehow the referee fell for a horrible Simmons flop to the ground. On TV it is hard to conlusively say whether or not the whistle was warranted, but Simmons’ multiple gross exaggerations on the night makes think not.

That call was made not by the referee with the better angle of the on the baseline, but by the ref with the worst view standing behind Harden. But whatever, after a rough start in overtime, the Rockets were up twice in final two minutes.

Harden had three turnovers in overtime but two of those were forced on great individual plays by Simmons when he reached around Harden and knocked the ball away twice. Its not that Harden was being over careless with the ball, or that poor decisions were involved, its simply Simmons making the plays. I have to admit that the fact it happened twice inside 5 minutes is redundant. The second of those was deflating because the Rockets were up 104-101 with 1:33 left and the ball.

The 6 points scored in overtime by the Rockets were 3-pointers that were opened up by Harden’s drives to the hoop.

Some of the Rockets players looked tired, and I think seeing K. Leonard exit the game allowed the team to feel as though they could lower their intensity a bit. The Spurs responded every single time late in the game, they were playing were urgency.

The Spurs flat out just played excellent defense on the last possession in OT. Rockets down 3 points with 15.7 seconds left Patty Mills was all over Gordon, and forces him to bounce the ball off his leg. After Ryan Anderson grabs hold of the jump ball with 7 seconds left, he has Ginobili all over him who then goes to block Harden from behind. That was years and years of big time basketball experience by Ginobili, just incredible for him to still be able making game clinching plays like that at his age.

It was embarrassing to have the game end like that for the Rockets, especially for Harden in this social media, meme era that we live in.

The Rockets had the victory in sight, Harden as the leader needs to learn from the loss. He must be conscious of the opposition trying to reach around the back to hit the ball away.

Don’t completely waste possessions by not having an idea of what you want to do with the ball and throw a forced 3-point shot up as the clock is winding down. Don’t take possessions for granted, and don’t lose your sense of urgency. Championship level teams don’t do these things.

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Execution

Turnovers

Referees

No Tony Romo For The Houston Texans

No Romo, Texans Offseason Thus Far

The Tony Romo saga this offseason obviously resulted in huge disappointment. My initial reaction to Romo’s decision to walk away from the game is to bash him. For a second I thought about the fact that perhaps he is retiring because he 37 years old and wants to protect himself from possible further serious injury. But in reality if Dak Prescott hadn’t taken his spot, Romo would be preparing to be the starting quarterback for the Cowboys this year.

I find it weak that Romo doesn’t want to prove that he can lead another team to the playoffs, he has never lead a deep playoff run. The Texans are a great fit all things considered, the main issue is the huge question mark at quarterback.

The Texans play inside a closed stadium, and play in a manageable division. The Texans have a some weapons on offense, and a legitimate defense. The Texans defense punched the eventually Super Champions in the mouth only a couple months ago.

Tony Romo was so disheartened by how he lost the Cowboys that he is not even going give another situation a shot. I’m a little dumbfounded by it, but Tony Romo is ready to move on from football.

Tom Savage now looks to be the starter this season, assuming he beats out whoever the Texans draft, that no veteran quarterback in signed.

I think it was a mistake not finding a way to re-sign A.J. Bouye, and it could come back to bite the Texans in a big way. Bouye had some length to him and a solid frame. His ability to cover various types of receivers is going to be missed. It’s a major hit to the cornerback depth on the team who will have to rely heavily on a 33 year old Jonathan Joseph, Kevin Johnson who is returning from injury, and Kareem Jackson who had a decent year.

Robert Nelson showed potential and can provide some depth but needs to prove he can be reliable in his assignments.  He made some big plays but also game some big plays up. Presumably the Texans will draft a cornerback this month, and take a look at the undrafted players.

Kevin Johnson has been the most talented cornerback on the roster since he was drafted, but he has had foot fractures in consecutive seasons. Jonathan Joseph is still a good player and brings it every game, but he is seemingly getting dinged up every game and being forced out for a few plays before eventually returning to the game.

The Texans are confident in their scouting of defensive backs, and their short history of having unproven players be serviceable. A.J. Bouye’s length and ability is going to be missed, hopefully the decision to let him walk it doesn’t come back to haunt the Texans.

With J.J. Watt returning in 2017 the Texans are banking on having a scary pass rush. Assuming Clowney can remain healthy it should be spectacular to witness, not to mention Whitney Mercilus coming off the edge.

Assuming health, the Texans front seven should be something special. I’m very excited to see the progression of the defensive lineman Reader, Covington, Heath, and Kamalu because there were making some big plays this past season. These guys are not being talked about much because all the other stuff going on but this entire line, and pass rush have the potential to do some historic type things this year.

I’m okay with Texans losing outside linebacker John Simon to the Indianapolis Colts because though he was a good player, his role can be more easily replaced. The Texans may already have his replacement in Brennan Scarlett who was an undrafted rookie last year out of Stanford and showed promise in spot duty. I’m also looking forward to seeing Scarlett’s progress this season.

Quentin Demps signed a multi-year deal with the Bears which I was also fine with, Demps doesn’t move the needle for me. I don’t think he is all that much better than the average safety in the NFL. Sure his had some bright moments, made some plays but overall I want a little more out of the safety position.

Demps had six interceptions this past season and to his credit he got himself in the right spot to make the plays, however a lot of his interceptions were the result of tipped passes, or factors not really attributed to him. He wasn’t a ball hawk or a real playmaker, he is a replaceable player.

The Texans re-signed tight end Ryan Griffin to a 3-year deal, he caught 50 passes for 442 yards and 2 TDs last season. I’ve been on Ryan Griffin’s bandwagon since the Texans drafted him in 2013, but I thought he would have elevated his game a few more notches higher than where he is at but bringing him back was the right move to make. We’ll see if he can build on his 2016 career highs in yards and receptions.

The Texans also re-signed Shane Lechler and Nick Novak which was expected but the Texans should definitely be scouting to find somebody younger and with a bigger leg.

It was rough year for some kickers last year, moving the extra point back has definitely added more pressure to the job. Novak was good percentage wise, overall he was 40/46 on FGs and 26/29 on PATs. However, his longest field goal was 53 yards and only had three field goals over 50. It is definitely more important to have somebody reliable, but it has been a long time since the Texans have had a reliable kicker who also has a big leg.

Rockets Victory Over Cavaliers

A few weeks ago the Rockets welcomed in the Cavaliers, and evened the 2017 season series 1-1.

The Rockets just flat out played harder and wanted this game more that the Cavaliers. Both teams entered the game being in a rough 6 game stretch, the Rockets were 3-3 and the Cavaliers were 2-4. They were also trying to maintain their playoff seeding, and not to mention it was an ESPN national TV game. All the motivation to win was there in this late season contest.

The Rockets won the offensive rebounding battle 20 to 4, and the turnover battle 15 to 6. This is ultimately what allowed the Rockets to close out the victory. The Cavs were missing a key piece to puzzle without Kevin Love, however you would still expect a little more from the reigning champs.

The Cavs didn’t have a sense of urgency in getting inside and boxing out, the Rockets consistently had guys close to the basket in position to rebound.

James Harden for most part was driving to the rim and finishing with relative ease. Defensively the center spot is a weak point for the Cavs because Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye are power forwards playing out of position. Thompson was often being forced to switch on to guarding Harden and was getting the step on him routinely.

I expected for Lebron to at some point in the last minutes of the game to attempt to take the game over but it didn’t happen.He seemed to be content with only taking his shots from the outside instead of being aggressive and challenge inside near the rim. Nene entered the game with 4:41 seconds left in the 4th quarter and was at center for the rest of the way. He played well, and the Rockets telecast justifiably so named the “Sleeper of the game” is the postgame.

The pivotal sequence late in the 4th quarter was when Beverly was matched on Lebron James and Nene came over to help just as Lebron was passing, steals the pass and on the other end Anderson finds Beverly for the 3-pointer.

James Harden had a signature game with another triple-double against fellow MVP candidate Lebron James. The next leading scorer was Ryan Anderson with 16 points, Beverly/Gordon each with 13 points, and Nene/Ariza with 12 each. There were six Rockets players with at least 6 rebounds. Really everybody from the regular rotation had solid contributions to the victory other than Sam Dekker who only played 5 minutes.

This win was even more impressive because the Rockets early in the 3rd quarter were down 14 points which was the largest deficit in the game. They finished the 3rd quarter scoring 21 points to the Cavaliers 5 points.

A blemish from the game was the missed free throws in crunch time, luckily it didn’t come back to bite them in this contest.

For the Rockets this was a huge win after having been a few games removed from losing back to back games to the Spurs and Jazz.  James Harden gave his MVP case a major boost with this win over a top team.

This was a big win indeed, but the Rockets need to keep in mind that this was without Kevin Love. Lebron and Kyrie almost did enough on their own with little help from their role players to get the win. Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Deron Williams combined to shoot 5-21 from the field.  If the Rockets are to face the Cavs in the future they can’t bank on a repeat of this type of performance. The Cavs were also careless/lazy passing the ball and it resulted in some easily avoidable turnovers. The Rockets need to channel this victory in the most productive way possible.