T.J. Yates’ touchdown pass to Kevin Walter to clinch the first division title in franchise history, J. J. Watt’s pick-six to send the Texans into halftime of their first playoff game, Andre Johnson’s much awaited first playoff touchdown, some wildcard round victory nobody remembers anything about, Yates’ fade to DeAndre Hopkins over Pacman Jones to put a boil on Cincinnati’s perfect record, Fat Randy’s AFC South clinching and AFC South Championship ruining miss, and now Deshaun Waton’s 49 yard touchdown run. The Texans-Bengals games have been miserable for the rest of the country, but for us Texans fans, they are a silly and unique part of our heart. Last night, Watson added another etch into its cardiac sinew.
If this game was played last year, there would be childlike, there’s nothing to do statements of boredom, complaints of a team operating under max capacity, bathroom breaks when the offense is on the field, worries of injuries in the secondary, and general ennui. Yet that didn’t happen last night, and I’m sure tomorrow morning, and the week after it, and over the course of the entire season, it will never arrive. Because even though the offense was bad, and even though Watson stuttered and somehow survived, there’s hope. Every game is an opportunity for growth and a possible answer to a question that has evaded this franchise since 2013. Last season didn’t offer this, the year before didn’t, and neither did the year before that.
The sly comments about close wins, putrid offensive play-calling, and Andy Dalton’s grotesque performance aren’t here. Instead it’s victory joy. It’s all Deshaun Watson.
For the first time, in such a long time, there’s actual quarterback optimism in Houston.
A Bigger Ovation Than Brett Farve Gets In Green Bay.
I know the Bengals are bad, but for me that doesn't make this win any less surprising. On the road in a short week, the injuries, the defense losing their "leader,” the offensive line, a rookie quarterback, a continually awful "offensive coordinator", etc. It wasn't an impossible win, but it was certainly improbable.
The defense is back, to nobody's surprise. Now we await news on Kevin Johnson and Jonathan Joseph. As of last night their injuries are not thought to be serious.
The blocking schemes we saw last night were an acknowledgement of this coaching staff about how horribly they BOTCHED this O-line. Even when they trotted out seven linemen, they were still awful. DeAndre Hopkins continues his early-season struggles, and although Deshaun Watson impressed - especially on the last drive to seal the win - let's not pretend the Bengals didn't ruin at least one surefire pick-six and possibly two.
Houston's speshul teemz was back to its old putrid awfulness. On offense, as a playcaller, I honestly have no clue what Bill O'Brien is doing.
But it was an impressive, resilient W. The whole team deserves credit for that.
This game played out pretty much how I expected it to, with the exception of the Texans pulling out a win. Both defenses controlled the night, and in the end Deshaun Watson's mobility ended up being the deciding factor behind a bad offensive line. If Tom Savage started this game, it would have been a loss. Full stop.
This Texans’ offense is still putrid, but if Watson can use those sweet feet to make just enough off-script plays to keep games alive, Houston might be able to have a respectable season. If he keeps misreading coverages, staring down receivers, and throwing interceptions (or near interceptions), it could be a very long year. The sooner Duane Brown comes back, the better.
Imagine Thinking That Tom Savage Shouldn’t Have Been Benched
Geno Atkins knocked some fire into DeShaun Watson. What an electric TD run. pic.twitter.com/9CvcHS88EP— LeadingNFL ™ (@LeadingNFL) September 15, 2017
The color rush uniforms are my favorite for the Texans now. I wish they were the standard.
I'll take a win on the road with three days to recover and 22 players listed on the injury report after the first game of the season.
Watson flashed, and flashed, and at times looked like a rookie, but instinctively flashed....in his first start...on the road...with a rag-tag, beat-up team...on a short week...without preseason development...under bright lights on the national stage. He's the exactly the NCAA National Champion 'Bama slayer and superstar Houston drafted and needed. I was dancing when they moved up to pick this kid, and he's the hero we desperately wanted.
Zach Cunningham looks even better in his first two games as a pro than all the great things I saw on film from his days at Vandy. During the 2017 NFL Draft, I listed him as my preferred pick for the second round and we got him!
D’Onta Foreman looks legit. I was excited about this pick during the draft, and he's going to develop quickly.
Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt are quickly returning to mid-season form, beasting and taking over games again in sensational fashion.
Kareem Jackson topped the roster with his overall performance; it was the best in his career by far.
DeAndre Hopkins finally started catching the ball away from his body as the game progressed, and he started getting more effective against physical defenders.
Eddie Pleasant had a great night. Perhaps the safety position won't be the glaring concern it has been for years.
The Bad & Ugly:
I get the personnel limitations, but Bill O'Brien's play-calling continues to baffle the hell out of everyone. Based solely on his tweets alone, I'd hire Rosencopter as the offensive coordinator and handcuff O'Brien up in the booth next to R.A.C.
I'm baffled by the Texans' lack of bootleg, play action, 3-step, and screen game.— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) September 15, 2017
Easiest and safest plays for a young quarterback.
The offensive line was marginally better, but Xavier Su’a-Flio is an absolute bust, and Breno Giacomini should not be on an NFL roster. The Texans' front office needs to set aside their ego and get busy negotiating with Duane Brown.
I said before the season started that the two biggest issues for this team were failing to ensure Duane Brown returned and failing to franchise-tag A.J. Bouye. Well, now Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph are injured (hopefully not too seriously). Thanks, Rick!
Special teams coverage regressed back to "dumpster fire" status.
I honestly don't know what to make of last night.
It's a win, so that good. Deshaun Watson did dope Deshaun Watson things, and that was enough to get the Texans the victory. The Texans’ offense did enough to get the victory and the defense, despite losing J-Jo and Kevin Johnson, looked stout.
This all sounds basic as KITTEN, but I don't know what I'm supposed to say here. Do I take positives from a game where Andy Dalton seemed to be actively sabotaging his own team? Even the Deshaun Watson stuff, as cool as it was, could just be a false positive; we don't know yet. I mean, KITTEN, there were weeks back in 2015 when Brian Hoyer could have been mistaken for a good NFL QB one week only to defecate himself next week. That's what Bill O’Brien’s offense does. It creates bipolar players. Even guys like DeAndre Hopkins, who has caught too many passes from too many different QBs in his career, was dropping passes and generally looking unsure whenever the ball came to him.
One positive: Watching Kareem Jackson slip under WRs’ blocks on outside runs and then blow up said run is awesome.
I know winning like this isn't sustainable. I'm just going to keep watching that Watson TD run and pretend that it is.
Which One Is The Birthday Boy? I Haven’t Got All Night.
It may not have been aesthetically pleasing, but after what happened in Week One, Texans fans can't be choosers. The good guys won. On the road. On a short week. With a rookie QB making his first start. That alone makes what happened at Paul Brown Stadium last night impressive.
Then add in the fatigue from dealing with the aftermath of Harvey, the entirely self-inflicted circus surrounding Bill O'Brien's benching of Tom Savage for Deshaun Watson, Brian Cushing getting popped for overtraining again, the stunning number of concussions that kept several contributors from even suiting up last night, Duane Brown's continued holdout, a clearly vulnerable offensive line, and the in-game injuries that knocked Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson out of the game, and there's no reason to dismiss what the Texans overcame to win their first game of the season, no matter how bad you think the Bengals may be.
There are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about the 2017 Houston Texans. Last night, however, is far more of a reason to be optimistic about the team's chances moving forward than not. The biggest reason for optimism, of course, is Deshaun Watson. He looked confused at times, yet he never looked overwhelmed. He made big plays. He didn't turn the ball over (though he got close to doing that at least twice). He got better as the game progressed. Most importantly, he led the offense down the field on its final drive to push the game from one where a Bengals field goal would win it to one where they had to get into the end zone to win. While Deshaun Watson is a long way away from being a franchise quarterback, he took a big first step on that path--with considerable help from a defense that kept the Bengals in check all night long--by delivering a win his team desperately needed.
That game was me sitting in a baby pool drinking beer and eating a hot dog ugly, but it was a win.
This game is also evidence of why your starting QB should be Deshaun Watson over Tom Savage, and it’s not because of the 49-yard TD run by the former. Behind that offensive line, we need a QB who can do things outside of the pocket. Tom Savage might be “fine” when wearing shorts, but that’s not his forte in the least.
Truly, however, I continue to be baffled by Bill O’Brien’s lack of calling plays that not only focus on Watson’s strengths but also minimize the dumpster fire of an offensive line. This team needs to move on from O’Brien much sooner than later.