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The Captain's Log 2017, Games 1&2: "Rescued!”

Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' tilts against Jacksonville and Cincinnati before reviewing the latest from around the AFC South.  Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

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Houston Texans v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Yarr and ahoy!

Given the shenanigans last year with the player who shall not be named and was such a disaster at quarterback, not to mention the season-long loss of our beloved J.J. Watt, let’s just agree that 2016 didn’t exist. Before it’s all said and done, there’s a credible risk that this 2017 season may also be one to toss into the abyss and strike from the records, but we’ll cross that bridge as it unfolds before our Hurricane Harvey-ravished bloodshot eyes.

Bill O’Brien kicked off this year by getting pantsed in the home opener by the Jaguars, with his team looking completely unprepared throughout the entire game on all sides of the ball. This forces us to once again ask questions that we have asked in the past, like: “Is the offense too complicated? Is the defense too complicated?” Yikes! Another season, and another O’Brien team that started slow out of the gate.

I have no idea what the Texans thought they accomplished up at The Greenbrier in the offseason, but it was all tossed into a shredder at halftime when O’Brien yanked Tom Savage from the game and started Deshaun Watson in the second half. The criticism here is that they should have had a clearer evaluation of Savage and recognized that Watson should have been given the maximum time to prepare as the starter. Instead, we’ll likely endure some rough outings as a rookie quarterback gets up to speed in the NFL through “on-the-job-training” fashion.

That is also the challenge we’ll have as fans, as 2017 is now very likely going to be a year of developing a rising star instead of contending for a championship. I’m as excited as anyone that we finally HAVE a rising star at quarterback. The bummer is that this defense has been, and still looks to be, capable of winning it all now. It’s another year of J.J. Watt’s prime being consumed while the team struggles on offense.

Things improved slightly in Week Two on the road against the Bengals with another of O’Brien’s classic one-possession victories against a bad team. We’ll take what we can get given the number of injured receivers (WR and TE), a miserable offensive line (sans Nick Martin, who looks like an All-Pro center), and a special teams unit that continues to defy all odds to remain the worst in the league for over a decade.

The Texans are all but certain to start the season 1-2 as they head to face their ultimate demise in the slaughterhouse of Foxborough, but I’m reminded of the phrase “any given Sunday.” There is always a chance, no matter how slight, that a rag-tag team packed full of numerous injuries, star holdouts, star suspensions, crappy linemen, terrible schemes, awful play calling, and a rookie quarterback can take down the champs from the previous year. Who am I kidding? They’re going to get obliterated by the best and most hated team in the league. We still pull for the Texans, though, no matter how bleak things appear.

Summary of Key Stats (Game 1):

Summary of Key Stats (Game 2):

Around the AFC South...

The Titans (1-1)

Tennessee lost to the Raiders in their season home opener 26-16 and then went on the road to embarrass the Jaguars 37-16. They next host the Seahawks (1-1).

The Jaguars (1-1)

Jacksonville dismantled the Texans 29-7 at NRG Stadium in Houston to open the season and were then promptly put back into the dungeon by the Titans in a 37-16 shellacking. They will now host the Ravens (2-0). To my knowledge, the Jags are the only NFL team to have defeated an aircraft carrier. More on that later.

The Colts (0-2)

Andrew Luck continues to be sidelined with a shoulder injury, so this may be the worst team in the league this year. The Colts were blown out on the road in the season opener against the Rams (yes, THE RAMS!!) 46-9 and then lost at home against Arizona 13-16. They host the Browns (0-2) this week.

Sick Bay

"I'm a doctor, not a mass casualty documentarian!"

INJURY STATUS:

WR – Will Fuller (collarbone): Returned to practice.

CB – Johnathan Joseph (shoulder): Expected to return to practice.

CB – Kevin Johnson (knee): Out 4-6 weeks.

RB – Alfred Blue (ankle): Questionable.

WR – Bruce Ellington (concussion): Questionable.

TE – Stephen Anderson (concussion): Questionable.

TE – Ryan Griffin (concussion): Questionable.

DE – J.J. Watt (finger): Questionable.

INJURED RESERVE:

TE – C.J. Fiedorowicz (concussion)

Movie Quote (name it):

“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”

Bravo Zulu – Zach Cunningham & Kareem Jackson

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

Cunningham was the lone bright spot in the season opener and was recognized as the Texans’ highest graded player according to Pro Football Focus:

LB ZACH CUNNINGHAM, 82.1 OVERALL GRADE

Considering how good this Texans defense was last year, it’s quite a surprise that their highest graded defender in this game was rookie Zach Cunningham. But make no mistake, Cunningham was impressive. Despite playing limited snaps (28 of 64), Cunningham finished with three solo run stops, and a run stop percentage of 18.8 percent. He also had a batted pass when rushing the quarterback. Cunningham’s strong play in this game may have earned himself a bit more playing time going forward.

Kareem Jackson was the “Human Scud Missile” against the Bengals. This may have been the best single-game performance for the eight-year veteran defensive back, as he forced a fumble (returned 49 yards by Jadeveon Clowney), notched a sack, and racked up 8 tackles and 3 assists in the tilt against the Bengals.

How The Jaguars Sank the U.S.S. Saratoga (CVN 60)

Earlier this week, it was brought to my attention that the final effort was underway in Brownsville, TX to scrap and recycle steel from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga (CVN 60). I remember personally seeing this ship several times as it was operating in the Red Sea during the ‘91 Gulf War, where it set a record of SIX (6!) transits of the Suez Canal. That’s not a trivial endeavor, as U.S. aircraft carriers have to crawl through that tight 120 miles over 12-16 hours of extreme vulnerability, unable to launch aircraft. Thankfully, during Desert Storm, we had a total of six carrier groups in the region to provide protection to one another, including those boring Suez Canal transits.

I also remember hilariously bold claims in the news that Saddam Hussein had sunk the Saratoga, but we all know that wasn’t the case. It was actually the Jacksonville Jaguars that ultimately led to her demise.

Saratoga operated out of Naval Station Mayport, Florida (near Jacksonville) throughout much of her assignment in the fleet. The good folks in that part of Florida wanted to have her established along the St. Johns River near downtown Jacksonville as a museum. The funding effort from 1994-1995, known as “Save Our Sara,” fell short of the goal to raise the $6.8 million needed. It was all the NFL and Jacksonville Jaguars’ fault!

From Wikipedia:

A major hurdle was competition with the National Football League, who had awarded the city the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise in November 1993. To secure the team as part of the agreement with the NFL, the city had to ensure a large financial commitment to fund re-building of the city's stadium at a cost of $130 million during 1994. This severely limited the city's available funding and support of the "Save Our Sara" effort to bring Saratoga back to its home port. The Jacksonville USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, Inc ceased operating in the summer of 1995.

Stories From The Brig:

Yeesh! Where do we start to cover all the insanity of the first two weeks as we clank the iron doors in hopes of remediating some of this funk?

  • Pay the man, Rick! Duane Brown continues his holdout. I’m all for these players maximizing their income for short, brutal careers in a league that sucks them dry and casts them aside like the dead gladiators of ancient Rome, but Brown’s absence is truly hurting the team with an offensive line that is historically bad. I actually blame Rick Smith for not getting this sorted out before the regular season. Brown has been a solid leader and the best offensive lineman in franchise history. He is absolutely worthy of a contract restructuring to include guaranteed values in a market where even average tackles make more than Brown on his current deal.
  • Brian Cushing has been suspended for ten (10!!!) games for his second career PED violation.
  • Jaelen Strong was forced to walk the plank after three years of poor performance. The Jaguars later fished him out of the sewer for some reason.
  • We covered the offensive line already,. Hopefully this gets sorted out sooner than later.
  • Special teams is just atrocious.

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

“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Liberty Call!

Just when you thought J.J. Watt couldn’t achieve more than he already has, the guy goes and raises $37,132,057 from 209,431 donors to help victims of Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast. Simply incredible! Bravo Zulu to him as well for his off-the-field heroism!

Ship's Galley

It looks as though, in my extended absence, that the quartermaster has been a bit behind in stocking provisions. I am assured that we’ll be fully supplied next week. Here is a lovely cocktail recipe instead, and might I suggest indulging in several during (and certainly after) the upcoming game against the Patriots. It’s a very refreshing drink, especially in the humid summer weather. It originates from the 2006 James Bond movie “Casino Royal,” and this is my updated refined version:

“James Bond Vesper Martini”

3 oz. gin

1 oz. vodka

½ oz. Lillet Blanc

Dash of aromatic bitters

Shake with ice, served up

Garnish with a twist of lemon

On The Horizon...

(Note: credit to Mike Bullock for the image concept here).

One plays chess with ease, while the other grinds away at checkers in agony.

The Texans travel to New England to face the Patriots. Without hesitation, I might add. Fools, all of them. Brave, highly paid, poorly organized, men in tights. Let’s cheer them on, shall we?

GO TEXANS!