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The Captain's Log 2015, Game 8: "Liberty" (Texans v. Titans)

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' win against Tennessee and reviews the latest from around the AFC South. Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

"Look Zach, you're on the big screen!"
"Look Zach, you're on the big screen!"
Bob Levey/Getty Images

The defense played great!  Are they finally doing what we expected to see this year, or was it just a bad offense they were up against?  Maybe a bit of both?  Can they do the same against the Bengals in a few weeks?  These are the questions we'll ponder over the next few days.

The running game is abysmal, and that needs to be fixed quickly if they want to win games through the tougher half of the schedule.  Hopefully this bye week gives many players the time they need to get healthy so that we can finally see some consistency on the offensive line.

Let's dive into the details.

Summary of Key Stats

TITANS TEXANS
First Downs 15 14
Net Rushing Yards 86 56
Net Passing Yards 125 214
Total Net Yards 211 270
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 22/31-0-1 23/35-2-0
Third Down Efficiency 1/12 (8%) 4/15 (26%)
Touchdowns 0 2
Field Goals (made/attempted) 2 / 2 2 / 2
Extra Points  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 2 / 2
Kicking  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 2 / 2
Two Point Conversions  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 0 / 0
Fumbles / Lost 2 / 2 0 / 0
Turnovers (lost) 3 0
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 6 - 45 7 - 85
Sacks (defense) 3 7
Interceptions (defense) 0 1
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 0 2
Time of Possession 31:08 28:52
Red Zone Efficiency 0/1 (0%) 0/0 (0%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 0/0 (0%) 0/0 (0%)
Points From Turnovers 0 6
FINAL SCORE 6 20

Around the AFC South...

The Colts (3-5)

Indy played a wet and sloppy game against the Carolina Panthers (7-0) on Monday Night Football.  Both teams put up a field goal in overtime, and then the Panthers ended the tilt with a 52-yard field goal to remain the only unbeaten team in the NFC.  Andrew Luck did not look fully healthy throughout the match, which resulted in several errant passes.

The Colts host the undefeated Denver Broncos (7-0) next Sunday.

The Jaguars (2-5)

Jacksonville was on a bye week.  They will hit the road to face the New York Jets (4-3).

The Titans (1-6)

Tennessee was dismantled by the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium, which resulted in their head coach being fired two days later.  They play the Saints (4-4) in New Orleans next week.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not a cruise director."

INJURY STATUS v. COLTS

ILB - Benardrick McKinney: Concussion

CB - Kareem Jackson: Ankle

WR - Cecil Shorts III: Hamstring

S - Rahim Moore: Pride

UPDATED POST-GAME

OLB - Jadeveon Clowney: Back

OT - Duane Brown: Concussion

S - Kurtis Drummond: Concussion

Movie Quote (name it):

"We pass a damn gas station every hundred yards for a thousand miles, but when you really need one, you end up walking your ass off. This is no way to run a desert!"

Bravo Zulu - J.J. Watt

100px-bravo_flag 100px-zulu_flag

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

"Are you NOT entertained?!!"

J.J. Watt had an incredible performance and helped to energize the entire defense throughout the game.  He was credited for NINE hits on QB Zach Mettenberger, which ties his personal single game record set against the Buffalo Bills last season.

His final tally for this game included five tackles (one for a loss), 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and nine QB hits.

11/4 EDIT: BREAKING NEWS UPDATE!

With the Texans struggling so much this season, especially in very embarrassing performances against the Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins, there has been an unwarranted narrative developing out there that J.J. Watt is having a "down year" relative to last year.

On that topic, Cody Stoots of CBS Houston provided the following:

Through eight games last year he amassed 32 tackles, seven sacks, seven pass deflections, a forced fumble, and returned an interception for a touchdown.

This year through eight games Watt has been better.

He has more tackles (40), more sacks (8.5), is close on the pass deflections (6), and has the same amount of forced fumbles. He also has more tackles for a loss and quarterback hits than last year's first eight games.

He isn't happy with the perception of his season so far.

When asked if he knew how well he was doing in the sack statistic at this point last year, Watt's reply was simple and short.

"Not as many as I have this year, I know that."

What followed next was a message for his critics.

"So maybe y'all can stop talking how down of a year I'm having. How about that?"

The ultimate statistic is of course wins, and the Texans are one game off where they stood through eight last year, which was 4-4.

Regardless of the whispers, headlines, or critical talk, if Watt keeps this up he will be in line to be the NFL's defensive player of the year once again.

I think we can clearly table any concerns about Watt underperforming.

Honorable Mention:

LB Whitney Mercilus played the best game of his career, notching 3.5 sacks, 7 tackles (1 for a loss), and almost had a another sack that was negated by a questionable call for an (incidental) "facemask" penalty.

Rookie CB Kevin Johnson grabbed his first career interception and continues to perform well above expectations for such a young player.  He has such incredible instincts, and it is really fun to watch him play the game.

LB Brian Cushing led the team with 13 tackles and swatted a pass that should have been intercepted by Jared Crick.

CB Johnathan Joseph performed better than we have seen all year, contributing excellent coverage, 6 tackles, and 2 passes defended.  One of those was late in the game on 4th down, and Joseph broke on that ball faster than lightning to turn the ball over to the offense on downs.

RB Chris Polk had a HUGE block on the play where DeAndre Hopkins scored a touchdown.

John Harris from The Mothership provided this detail on that play:

What most people didn’t see on Hopkins TD catch, I happened to spy while watching live. For some reason, I thought Brian Hoyer might pitch one out to running back Chris Polk out of the backfield. Given the coverage and location on the field, I thought Polk could shoot out to the left flat and be open. So, when the ball was snapped, he took a path as if he were about to run that flat route. Then, WHAM. He chipped on OLB Brian Orakpo and rocked his world. He literally spun Orakpo around 360 degrees. LT Duane Brown didn’t have to do much the rest of the play as Polk’s chip pretty much shut Orakpo down.

Stories From The Brig

The running game is in serious trouble without Arian Foster.  It's also still suffering from the carousel at all positions along the offensive line (other than Ben Jones at center).

56 net yards rushing on 23 attempts is simply unacceptable.

They need these guys to all get healthy through the bye week and then stabilize in one role through the back half of the season.  Consistency from this group is critical to get the running game working.

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

"Oh spare me, Clark! I know your brand of family fun. Tomorrow you'll probably kill the desk clerk, hold up a McDonalds, and drive us 1,000 miles out of the way to see the world's largest pile of mud!"

Liberty Call!

The Houston Rockets enjoyed a visit from J.J. Watt.

Ship's Galley

Let's go below deck and see what the chef has for us.

In case you hadn't noticed, it's November already.  Where did the year go?  Anyway, a lot of folks will be trying to think of new ways to cook turkey soon, so I figure I'd share this gem from Emeril Lagasse:

"Turkey Roulade"

  • Prep Time:55 minutes
  • Total Time:1 hour 55 minutes
  • Yield:8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (3 1⁄2-pound) boneless turkey breast
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups Sausage Stuffing

DIRECTIONS:

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • 2. On a large cutting board, place the turkey breast, skin side down, on top of a piece of plastic wrap. Cut the tenders from the breast and save them for another use. Cover the turkey breast with additional plastic wrap, and, using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound it to an even thickness of a little less than 1⁄2 inch (you're going to want to channel every bit of your latent aggression because you need to really strong-arm that mallet to get the breast to that thickness), forming a roughly rectangular piece of meat.
  • 3. Remove the plastic wrap from on top of the turkey, and season both sides of the turkey evenly with the salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing down the length of the turkey in the center, then roll one side up and over the stuffing and continue rolling the entire thing into a long cylinder. Tie the roulade every couple of inches using kitchen twine.
  • 4. Set the roulade on a wire rack set in a roasting pan, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 155 °F, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting across into 1-inch-thick slices.

On The Horizon...

Houston is now on their bye week, and hopefully the players can get a healthy hiatus from football and go unwind a bit.  After some rest and recreation, they need to get back to work next week and prepare for a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football on November 16th.

GO TEXANS!

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