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The Captain's Log 2014, Game 3: "The Northern Trench"

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' latest game against the New York Giants and the first loss of the 2014 season.

"I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me." - photo credit:
"I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me." - photo credit:
Alex Goodlett

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Captain's Log Supplemental

The good news is that the Texans are 2-1 and in first place of the AFC South.  I'd also add that this loss was a non-conference game, so it has less weight in future tiebreakers.  The other good news, in a week around the NFL that played out like the infamous Red Wedding from "Game of Thrones," is that the Texans are still doing relatively well injury-wise.

The bad news?  Let's start with the fact that the Texans invested high round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft on several players who are not currently making a difference in games.  The first-overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney, is out with an injury, so we can cut him some slack for now.  Xavier Su'a-Filo, the 33rd overall pick, has only played in a handful of snaps in three games.  Louis Nix III, who the Texans traded up to pick in the third round, has been inactive every game.  C.J. Fiedorowicz, picked at the top of the third round, has been in games, but the Texans don't seem to be getting tight ends involved in the passing game very much for some reason.

Now I'm all for building nasty, earth-moving lines to win the war in the trenches on offense and defense, but to invest this much and not see these players on the field as both lines are getting blown up by the opponent is unacceptable.  We could easily start banging the gong and raging about how the Texans did this at the expense of not drafting one of several quarterbacks in those higher rounds, but it was obvious that their drafting plans were to build stronger foundations before getting a franchise quarterback.  If that is going to be the plan, WHEN do we see them making a difference to help this team?

Not to spark a debate about whether the Texans should have picked Clowney first overall, or any of these other "trench" guys who aren't making any significant contributions, but did anyone else notice how easy it was to take J.J. Watt out of the game yesterday or last week?  The refs are focusing on big hits and downrange contact, but they continue to ignore blatant holding by offensive linemen.  I see many plays in every game where Watt has some lineman hanging on him with arms wrapped around J.J.'s neck as he drags the blocker toward the quarterback.  With the league's officials tailoring the game subjectively like this, it's just another reason why a quarterback can bring more value to a team than any other position if you are choosing one over the other in the draft or free agency.  You would think you would get more for your investment in the trenches, but the refs get to determine that it seems.

Speaking of quarterbacks, I'm not going to go into any rants about Ryan Fitzpatrick.  He is who he is.  There were plays where he put his heart out there and tried to make something happen.  Sometimes it worked.  But there were times when it didn't.  That's been his profile now for most of his career.  I don't know if Ryan Mallett would have made a difference in yesterday's game, but could he have been much worse?

The Texans are not going to win every game, so I'm ready to move past this loss.  Bill O'Brien and the staff have their work cut out for them to prepare for C.J. Spiller, Mario Williams and the Bills.  They are not going to win many games if they let running backs like Spiller break loose.  Only converting 2 of 16 third downs (16%) and losing the turnover battle is also not going to get you a "W" in the NFL.  Clean it up, and move forward!

GO TEXANS!!

Summary of Key Stats

TEXANS GIANTS
First Downs 20 26
Net Rushing Yards 119 193
Net Passing Yards 292 226
Total Net Yards 411 419
Passing ATT-COMP-INT 21-35-3 21-28-0
Third Down Efficiency 2/12 (16%) 4/12 (33%)
Touchdowns 2 3
Field Goals (made/attempted) 1 / 1 3 / 3
Fumbles / Lost 1 / 0 2 / 1
Turnovers (lost) 3 1
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 5 - 40 4 - 31
Sacks (defense) 1 2
Interceptions (defense) 0 3
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 1 0
Time of Possession 27:26 32:34
Red Zone Efficiency 1/2 (50%) 2/7 (28%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 1/1 (100%) 2/2 (100%)
Points From Turnovers 0 10
FINAL SCORE 17 30

Around the AFC South...

The Colts crushed the Jaguars 44-17 and host the Titans in Indy next week.  They are now 1-2.  Andrew "Neckbeard" Luck had a banner day feasting on the Jags as he was 31-39 for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The Titans lost to the Bengals 33-7.  Tennessee is 1-2 as they head to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Colts.

The Jaguars were pummeled by the Colts to remain without a win this season.  It is being reported that Blake Bortles will start against the 2-1 Chargers as they travel to San Diego next week.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not Lord Commander of the Night's Watch!"

INJURY UPDATES THIS WEEK:

Jadeveon Clowney continues to recover from his knee surgery.

Arian Foster missed this game with a hamstring injury.

Shane Lechler day-to-day with a hip flexor injury.

Movie Quote (name it):

"Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!"

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Bravo Zulu - DeAndre Hopkins

(Bravo Zulu is a naval signal, conveyed by flag hoist or vocal, for "Well Done")

Hopkins' one-handed circus catch over the middle was the highlight of the game yesterday.  Unfortunately it was negated by an illegal formation penalty.  He finished the day with 6 receptions for 116 yards and showed to be the brightest spot in an otherwise inept offense.

Honorable Mention: 

Alfred Blue rushed 13 times for 78 yards in his first NFL start, averaging 6 yards per carry.  Good work, rookie!

Stories From The Brig

The amazing one-handed catch by Hopkins was called back for an illegal formation.  The referee said that the receiver (Hopkins) covered Tyson Clabo, who reported in as "eligible."  If you look at the image below, you'll see Clabo is lined up as a tight end next to Newton.  I get that they are still installing this new offense, but the players should know how to line up at the NFL level.  I guess it's early in the season under a new scheme, so we'll have some mistakes.  It's just really depressing that it erased a great play in this case.

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Movie Quote II (a/k/a the hint):

"I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing."

Fun With Twitter

I'm convinced that Ben Jones had a rough day in New York after getting rolled-up by a Raider in Oakland:

Ship's Galley

Meatballs!!

Another great recipe that is perfect for tailgating and/or hosting Texans' game watching parties is this meatball recipe.  I learned of it from a friend in London who directed me to this BBC site for the recipe.  I tested it in my kitchen, and it was a huge hit.  Sure, I have other meatball recipes, but this one really stood out in providing a meatball that not only tasted great, but travels well too.  I thought it would be a good edition to our focus on Texans game-day food options.  It has bacon!

Ingredients:

· 1 large onion, finely chopped

· 5 tbsp olive oil

· salt and freshly ground pepper

· 3 slices bacon, chopped

· 1¾oz fresh breadcrumbs

· handful parsley (or whatever herbs you prefer - oregano, thyme and sage all work well), chopped

· 9oz ground beef

· 9oz ground pork

· 1 egg yolk

· 2fl oz red wine

· 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

· 1 can chopped tomatoes

· grated cheese, to serve (hard cheeses such as parmesan, pecorino and mature cheddar work well)

Preparation:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole or large saucepan set over a low heat. Add the onion and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Increase the heat to medium and add the bacon. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

  2. Add the breadcrumbs and a generous handful of herbs to the pan. Stir and then remove half of the mixture and set aside in a bowl to use in the sauce later. Transfer the remaining mixture to a blender.

  3. Add the minced beef and pork to the mixture and pulse to form a paste. Stir in the egg yolk to combine. Use your hands to mold the mixture into small balls about the size of ping pong balls.

  4. Put the meatballs in the casserole and fry until brown all over (this can take up to 10 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.

  5. Add the reserved onion and bacon mixture to the pan. De-glaze by adding the red wine and scraping all the bits off the bottom of the pan. When the wine is boiling, add the chopped fresh tomatoes, keeping the heat high. Continue to cook, stirring all the time until they start to break down. Add the tinned tomatoes and a tin full of water. Bring back to the boil.

  6. Taste to check the seasoning and cook for a further five minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

  7. Serve while hot, or allow to cool for transporting to another venue where they can be reheated.

On The Horizon...

Next up, the Texans host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, September 28th at 12 p.m. CDT.

Mario Williams is returning to Houston with his northern army!

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Last week's Captain's Log: Week 2 v. Raiders

Texans vs Giants coverage