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The Captain's Log 2015, Game 2: "Mulligans"

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' loss to the Panthers and reviews the latest from around the AFC South. Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

"None of this looks like it did on paper, George.  Let's regroup."
"None of this looks like it did on paper, George. Let's regroup."
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Texans' 0-2 start may be cause for concern, but if you peel back the details a bit, there are still a lot of good things working that can help this team win games.  The injury bug is in full swing, and the lack of a running game is the most evident result.  Once several key players return (Arian Foster, Duane Brown, Xavier Su'a-Filo) and the offense has more time to gel together under a quarterback who just finished his third NFL start, I think things will improve dramatically.

Normally there would be reason to panic, but the AFC South has given Houston a bit of a mulligan at the start of the regular season.  The Colts are 0-2 and they look to be every bit of the mess that many of us suspected they would be this year.  The Titans and Jaguars are better than they were last year, but they are still beatable if Houston can get things sorted out on offense and special teams.

I am worried about the running backs behind Foster, the mistakes being made at safety, the lack of coverage by linebackers, and the brain-dead mistakes and penalties on special teams.  These areas need immediate attention, and they are correctable.  I remain optimistic that Bill O'Brien will have this team in better shape in short order.

GO TEXANS!

Summary of Key Stats

TEXANS PANTHERS
First Downs 21 25
Net Rushing Yards 61 172
Net Passing Yards 239 178
Total Net Yards 300 350
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 27/58-1-1 18/37-2-1
Third Down Efficiency 5/19 (26%) 4/13 (30%)
Touchdowns 2 3
Field Goals (made/attempted) 1 / 1 1 / 2
Extra Points  (made/attempted) 2 / 2 3 / 3
Kicking  (made/attempted) 2 / 2 3 / 3
Two Point Conversions  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 0 / 0
Fumbles / Lost 1 / 0 0 / 0
Turnovers (lost) 1 1
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 10 - 70 10 - 92
Sacks (defense) 2 1
Interceptions (defense) 1 1
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 0 0
Time of Possession 27:31 32:29
Red Zone Efficiency 2/3 (66%) 1/2 (50%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 0/0 (0%) 1/1 (100%)
Points From Turnovers 0 7
FINAL SCORE 17 24

Around the AFC South...

The Jaguars (1-1)

Miami (1-1) played a close game in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars took care of business for their first win of the season 23-20.  At this time, they look like the most complete team in the AFC South.  I can't believe I just wrote that, and I seriously wonder if we have somehow found ourselves in some parallel universe.  If Blake Bortles continues to grow as an NFL quarterback, this team could be a contender.

The Jaguars go on the road to play the defending champion New England Patriots (2-0), and that will be a tough challenge as Tom Brady and his clan are playing lights-out so far this season.

The Titans (1-1)

Tennessee lost on the road to the Browns (1-1) with a score of 28-14. The Titans will host the Colts (0-2) next week and hope to give Indy an 0-3 start to the season.

The Colts (0-2)

On Monday Night Football, the New York Jets (2-0) handed Indy their second consecutive loss to open the 2015 regular season.  While the Colts started last season with a similar record and still ended up advancing to the AFC Championship Game, there are clearly some major issues with this year's team.  The offensive line and defense have mostly been ignored while the team invested in offensive weapons in an effort to use a "boat-race" formula. Well, even Andrew Luck and speedy guys like T.Y. Hilton can't overcome their roster deficiencies.

Indy will head to Tennessee in search of their first win of the season, and this will be one of those rare times when Texans fans will likely pull for the Titans to keep Indy pinned in the basement for as long as possible.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not an offensive coordinator"

INJURY STATUS THIS GAME

OT - Duane Brown (DNP) Thumb (broken)

RB - Arian Foster (DNP) Groin

ILB - Mike Mohamed (DNP) Calf

G - Xavier Su'a-Filo (DNP) Calf

UPDATED POST-GAME

OL - Jeff Adams: Torn patellar tendon; out for the season.

Movie Quote (name it):

"I suck at sheep.  Louise was right, I can't keep track of them.  There was a sheep in the whorehouse last week.  Wandered in there, and then when I went to pick it up, somehow it had made 20 dollars."

Bravo Zulu - Jared Crick

100px-bravo_flag 100px-zulu_flag

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

When the opponent shifts protection toward J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, someone else on the defensive line needs to step it up and make plays.  That's exactly what Jared Crick did against the Panthers, as he recorded a team-high 7 tackles (tied with Brian Cushing), and blocked a field goal at a critical point in the game to give his team a chance to come back at the end.

Stories From The Brig

Eddie Pleasant managed to notch a second consecutive week with a penalty on special teams, as he joined Darryl Morris and Justin Tuggle in racking up THREE blocks in the back in the first half.  Special teams continues to be an area of significant concern for Houston.

The coaches need to do a better job in preparing this team for games.  This makes two weeks in a row that there was confusion on the first offensive play of the game.  The other team is showing up with a much better game plan and executing earlier than the Texans have been.  While the halftime adjustments have been good, it is too little too late to win.

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

"Hey, dude, you really shouldn't drink and horse."

Liberty Call!

In this newly introduced section of the Captain's Log we'll include random interesting notes about the players from mostly off-field situations whenever possible.

This week, rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson joined Mark Vandermeer and Deepi Sidhu on Sports Radio 610.  They took questions from fans and had Kevin answer them on air.  Here are two of the best examples that I heard (paraphrased):

Q: "If you were being mugged, which other Texans' player would you want with you?"

K. Johnson: "Brian Cushing."

I have to agree.  In fact, as soon as I heard the question asked, Cushing was the first name that came to mind.  That's the guy you want with you if things are about to go down, because you just know he'll "Hulk-rage" things in your favor.

It reminded Vandermeer of a question asked previously to Kareem Jackson:

Q: "If you were stranded and lost on a remote island, which other Texans' player would you want with you?"

K. Jackson: "J.J. Watt.  You KNOW that they'll come looking for him."

This is incredibly funny and accurate.  Simply brilliant!

Back to Kevin, and other interesting notes from the interview this morning:

Kevin said that when he was a freshman in high school, he was only five feet tall and weighed about 96 pounds.  By his senior year, he was 5' 9" and weighed in at 155 pounds.  NINE inches of growth in four years?  Wow!!  He played quarterback, running back and defensive back.  While he loved playing quarterback, he knew that he was too short for that role at the next level and that he'd end up as a defensive back.

Kevin was a two-star recruit heading into college and was considering offers from Wisconsin, along with Wake Forest.  After growing up in Maryland, he made his choice of the warmer climate of North Carolina and remained closer to home.

As a self-described "late bloomer," he has now filled out to 6' and 188 pounds.  I suspect that he'll fill out further with more muscle under the guidance of NFL trainers. Kevin is demonstrating significant instincts as one of the better defensive backs on the roster for the Houston Texans.


Ship's Galley

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

"Tailgating Cheeseburger"

This recipe comes from one of my favorite chefs: Alton Brown.  He recently shared this on National Cheeseburger Day, and it is absolutely perfect for tailgating grub.

Ingredients

  1. 3 ounces (86-88 grams) ground beef*
  2. 1 1/4 ounces (36-40 grams) grated cheddar cheese**
  3. 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  4. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  5. 1 hamburger bun or (soft) Kaiser roll
  6. 4-5 dill pickle slices or "chips"
  7. Mayo and mustard
  8. Oil shortening for frying...yeah what I said...frying***

Instructions

  1. Get a nice big dutch oven and add enough oil or shortening to be two inches deep. Install your fry/candy thermometer to the side of the pot and crank the heat to medium high. Your thermal destination is 320 degrees F.
  2. Turn on your broiler and position rack in top position. This is a perfect time to use your toaster oven if you have one.
  3. Meanwhile, weigh out the meat portions for however many burgers you want to make. Roll into balls and set aside. Do not refrigerate.
  4. Grate the cheese. If you want 4 burgers, obviously you need 5 ounces total. Six would be 7 1/2, eight would be 10 ounces. Toss this cheese with the spices until all the powder has stuck to the cheese.
  5. Place a thin layer of mayo on the bottom of the buns. Place half the cheese mixture on top of this. Spread mustard on bun tops and place the rest of the cheese on this. You should have half the cheese on the bottoms (on mayo) and half on the tops (on mustard). Place these under the broiler so that the cheese will melt as you cook the burgers.
  6. When the oil hits 320 degrees F, place one of the meat balls on an upside-down sheet pan. Dip a wide metal grill spatula in the hot fat then use it to smash and spread the meat ball out into a 5 to 6-inch-wide disk. It will be irregular around the circumference and that's good as all those irregularities will become crunchy goodness. The meat will also shrink by a couple of inches.
  7. Gently scrape the patty/wafer off the pan with the spatula and gently drop into the fat. Cook one minute, no more, no less. You can cook up to three patties at a time, but watch the oil temp and don't let it drop to under 300 degrees F.
  8. Remove meat to a paper towel to drain briefly then place it on the bun bottom right away. Place the pickles on top, then the bun top. The goal: bread/mayo/cheese/meat/cheese/pickles/mustard/bread.
  9. Consume or wrap in foil and hold for up to half an hour.

Notes

  1. * Most look for a ground meat that's no more than 80 percent lean.
  2. ** I like to use a mixture of sharp and mild cheddar cheeses.
  3. *** Believe it or not, as long as you keep the oil between 300 and 325 degrees F, this will be the most un-greasy burger you've ever enjoyed.


On The Horizon...

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) head to NRG Stadium, and the Texans will look for their first win of the season in front of a home crowd of fans who are quickly losing patience with the team.

GO TEXANS!

Buccaneers vs Texans coverage
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