Last week, we were somewhere in the stars, a million miles away, uplifted and flying after an obliteration of Tennessee. In a week, all of that has changed. There are dementors everywhere. There are macabre clouds hanging over heads. It’s amazing how quickly things can change after one game in the NFL.
Last night was some carnage I don’t remember seeing before. Limbs and appendages were chopped and splayed everywhere. It was like a cannibal’s freezer. Whitney Mercilus tore his pectoral and is out for the year. Kansas City’s Chris Conley’s calf rippled under his sock, and Steven Terrell laid still after a leg hit him in the head. Travis Kelce was hit in the side of the head after catching a pass over the middle that snapped his neck to the left, bounced his head off the turf, and he never returned to the field again after suffering a concussion. J.J. Watt was a pirate hobbling on one leg to the sideline. An enormous man, one of the greatest defensive players of all time, purple faced and almost crying as he went from the field to the medical tent to the ambulance. It was devastating. It was like seeing your dad cry. This is why you don’t fill your brain with silly hope, or have any expectations of anything whatsoever. We all waited so long to see Watt team up with a skilled and healthy Jadeveon Clowney. It lasted for four weeks. Now it’s all gone.
I don’t know what to think with Watt. I’m not a doctor. I’m not going to play one on the internet. I have no idea what his injury means or how it can affect him moving onward. I do think the immediate jump to his career being over is silly and untrue. What I do know is Watt has missed the last two seasons with non-contactish injuries. The label of injury prone is now attached to him, right or wrong. We don’t really know when he will come back or how he effective he will be when he does.
That’s all in the future. For now, Houston’s defense, which is led by its front seven, has lost two of its best players from it. The Texans are less fun to watch now, and they are a much worse team fielding a defense that has given up 33, 14, and 42 points the last three weeks without two of their best defensive players.
Since Bill O’Brien arrived in Houston, the combination for the Texans to win has been a great defense, terrible special teams, and an offense that can score 20 points. Now that dynamic may be gone. The Texans’ defense has been picked on. Mike Vrabel has been outsmarted and is trying to put a defense back together again. The Texans could now be a team led by its offense and featuring a defense that tries to hold teams to 27 points or less.
Even though Deshaun Watson is the greatest quarterback of all-time, this season is exactly why the mismanagement of the quarterback position for the last several years was such a travesty. The Texans’ defense has been wasted. Watt’s prime was wasted. It’s so hard for things to intersect perfectly. Rather than maximize the ability to win during that window, the Texans wasted it by digging for garbage. Now that they possibly have an offense that can do more than reach the divisional round, the cruel fingers of injury luck have reached under the skin to snap bone and snip muscle.
It’s amazing how quickly things can change.
A little piece of me died when Whitney Mercilus went down, and then the rest of me died when Watt went down.
Once they left the game, the result seemed kind of meaningless to me. Even if we won, it still would have felt like a loss. This just...sucks.
I’m numb through and through. Losing Mercilus and Watt in the first series felt like getting shot in the leg and the chest. Special teams, the offensive line, and the secondary are the boat anchors of this team. Too bad they didn’t tag A.J. Bouye!
Watson is so much fun to watch! Even in a loss, he’s a boss.
Obviously the score doesn't matter for this game. Yesterday's Astros game plus last night's Texans loss was PEAK Houston Sports Fan Armageddon. I'm not 'bout dat Boo Hoo Whining Life, but yeah, this hurt. It looks like we finally have a legit quarterback, and then this. So the rest of the season becomes all about watching Deshaun Watson develop (while also having the entire construct and success of the offense squarely on his shoulders), and a defense that you hope can have a ceiling of "average".
I just don't have any analysis. Once Whitney and J.J. went down, it felt like a prolonged execution. It had me thinking of Braveheart, where William Wallace's friends are all silently pleading with him to call for mercy... but Deshaun Watson's cry of FREEEEDOMMM!!! kept the body twitching until the bitter end.
This game kittened a dog's kitten.
For those of you who are new to being a Texans fan, welcome back to the Gary Kubiak era, where our offense is effective, our defense is garbage (particularly the secondary), and the special teams remains effectively unchanged.
We may have just witnessed the end of J.J. Watt's career, Whitney Mercilus tore his chest, and what the hell were we all subjected to on all but one defensive third down play tonight?
The only redeeming feature of this game, I guess, is Deshaun Watson really shining tonight, including a final drive which had me laughing like a loon at the sheer absurdity of it.
The game's final score doesn't really matter. This game was brutal to our team's plans for the rest of the season. The loss of Whitney and J.J. for the remainder of the season is terrifying because our defense really does need the help.
On the bright side, the offense game together at points last night, and Watson was able to make fans smile. He's our bright spot for the season.
To say things changed for the 2017 Houston Texans last night is a gross understatement. That’s not say that this team won’t finish with a winning record; they will. It’s not to say they won’t make the playoffs; I still believe they will. But the ceiling for this team, which looked to have been significantly elevated if not removed entirely with the elevation of Deshaun Watson to the top of the quarterback depth chart, has likely changed.
You just don’t lose J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and not skip a beat. The Texans managed to maintain a very strong defense last year after Watt went down, but it was due in large part to a stout secondary that isn’t as stout without A.J. Bouye and a pass rush that featured Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney.
As awful as we feel right now, the Texans are not doomed. Deshaun Watson has singlehandedly transformed Houston’s offense, and the presence of Will Fuller as a viable option in the passing game makes the Texans even more explosive. On the other side of the ball, the Texans should rightfully expect growth and production from Clowney, D.J. Reader, Benardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham, and Dylan Cole. Kevin Johnson will be back, which should help the secondary and defense in general.
All is not lost. It’s just likely that the Texans’ season will end before it would have if Watt and Mercilus were still playing.