Rarely, if ever, am I left without words. I turn the faucet on and they just flow out, bouncing off the tub, and splattering on the wall. Yesterday was one of those rare instances. My lips were sewn shut. My mouth pumping saliva like the courting stages of vomit. Jaw clenched.
It was 3rd and 11. Houston was down by only six after forcing Philadelphia to punt on the previous possession, and a outside the pocket touchdown throw to D’Onta Foreman. Houston had fourth down available too. Any yards would be valuable in this situation. The Eagles rushed only four, and used Fletcher Cox as a spy to patrol the center of the line of scrimmage. Michael Bennett pulled the red cape away from Zach Fulton and swam over the top of him. Immediate interior pressure. It’s usually inescapable. Chris Long looped back inside to follow the path Bennett opened up. Brandon Graham got to Juli’en Davenport’s outside shoulder and ripped wide.
At the end of his dropback this is what he was faced with.
Somehow this didn’t end in a sack.
He stepped up and away from Graham, and spun out of Michael Bennett’s grasp. Chris Long got his chance after looping inside, and he too missed after Watson spun back around in reverse. Reset he brought his eyes back upfield then dodged Bennett again. Four missed tackles. All in the pocket. A deep heave. Jordan Akins leaped to make the catch, and convert on third down.
Foreman fumbles and Martin recovers. Incompletion. Another 3rd and 11. This time the pass protection is perfect. Fulton and Kendall Lamm correctly pass the T-E stunt. Davenport squares up Graham. Watson throws a high flying pass down the left sideline. The ball leaves the boundaries of the camera, launched with extreme loft, and aimed at our dying star.
The next time we see the ball Rasul Douglas is chasing Vyncint Smith, the undrafted free agent from the imaginary Limestone State, a man who has one catch all season, who is in for Demaryius Thomas, whose Achilles recently exploded, who was carted off the field with his head wrapped in a towel. Watson stared left the entire way. Targeting the Eagles’ worst starting cornerback. Putting the ball in the back boundary of the endzone. Giving Smith enough space to slide a knee down. 29-23 became 29-29, which immediately became 30-29.
My jaw ripped down. My tongue yanked out and outstretched and lopped off. It squealed and squirmed on hardwood floors, flopping and spraying crimson. I sat in the mountain stream flowing from my mouth. The tongue stopped. Exhausted. Frozen. Vacuum sealed and purpled.
The Texans giving up 32 points isn’t surprising. This secondary is terrible. It’s been masked by the opposing offenses it has played against all season. Covering Zay Jones isn’t the same as Zach Ertz. Playing against Alex Smith for a half is different than going up against Super Bowl M.V.P. Nick Foles. Since the second Indianapolis game teams are finally attacking Houston’s main weakness.
It’s not insurmountable though. The Texans have Deshaun Watson. They can score more than the 25 points a game they’ve averaged this year that has needed 66 points off turnovers to even reach this mark. When they go away from all the inside running with Alfred Blue, and now the recently healed D’Onta Foreman, they can outscore teams. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, [NAME REDACTED], Brian Hoyer, Tom Savage. They aren’t here anymore. Yet, too often O’Brien calls the offense like he has. He’s trying not to have the best offense in football, an outrageous claim uttered during yesterday’s telecast, despite having an incredible talent at quarterback. The gates have opened. Teams are going to pour points on the Texans. It’s now time for the offense to start playing like it, and start winning because of Watson, instead of just with him.
I Think About This A Lot:
"he's not trying to be the #1 offense in the NFL." Okay— Mike Meltser (@MikeMeltser) December 23, 2018
1. A roughing call and two defenders colliding with each other to give a wide open pass to Ertz that seals the deal? Sums up the entire season of this defense.
2. I’m convinced that Bill O’Brien has to be a pacifist for lack of a better word. Never seen someone hate being aggressive so much. Wants absolutely no part of any gutsy calls. The other team’s coach won a Super Bowl and controlled most of this game by being the Brain antithesis. You’d think this would be the game to break things open.
3. I’d give thoughts on the defense but I can’t speak about something that doesn’t exist. Shame.
4. What a special player in #4, when you have a guy like that, you owe him everything. A defense, a good coach, a running game, an offensive line. Shame he has none of that. Because he’s in year two we can look past it but if he were in year eight we’d be talking about a wasted talent to no fault of his own.
“Waiting for ‘next year’ since 2002...”
As Houston made its name on solid defense and a strong running attack, it seemed all they needed was a good quarterback and the sky would be the limit. Well, they have one of the most promising young signal callers in years, but the run game has fallen off the map and the defense is highly suspect. Seeing this nearly made me throw up in my mouth a little:
If Bill O’Brien doesn’t figure out how to fix that with a quickness Houston’s playoff dreams for this season are going to end abruptly. But, like so many teams that knock on the door one year, then kick it in the next, Houston should be able to re-load nicely in the offseason and get it going in 2019.
The Texans damn near surprised me today. The game was certainly more exciting than I predicted, but it still had the anticipated result. I am excited about the playoffs and I can’t wait to see it play out - but if you know me (and several others on the Masthead) you know I’m expecting them to get bounced as soon as they play a team with a good passing attack.
But holy HELL, fellow Texans fans. Deshaun. Freaking. Watson. If Bill O’Brien ever gets to where he actually trusts Watson - look the hell out for this offense. It’s obviously not going to be this season, and yes - there are of course several other issues at play, but look how CLOSE this team was to a 2nd round bye. With starting the season 0-3. With this offensive line, this lack of team speed on offense due to the Fuller and Coutee injuries. With an inconsistent running game. Questionable playcalling. Questionable overall offensive strategy. With the lack of involvement or misuse of tight ends. With a young quarterback still figuring everything out. I mean - with ALL THOSE problems and this team made it all the way to week 16 controlling their own destiny for a first-round bye. That first round by all but evaporated today, but it’s actually quite stunning that it was even in play.
I just can’t wait to see Playoff Deshaun Watson. Even though I’ve stubbornly made up my mind about how the season will eventually conclude, Deshaun Watson means they at least have a chance to beat any team in the league.
It’s Better To Enjoy The Successes of Your Own Then Bathe In The Misery Of Others:
Sunday’s game against the Eagles could be a great eye-opener for this franchise.
Deshaun Watson is a franchise QB. Yet, Marvin O’Brain tries to force Watson into managing a game, playing not to lose. Yesterday, we all saw what can happen when O’Brain just allows Watson to do what he does best, which is win games while being twice the QB Vince Young ever was. #justwinsgamez
Mostly, it happened because even O’Brain recognized that the run game, 11 rushes for 13 yards from literally the worse RB in the NFL today, Alfred Blue, and a guy returning from an Achilles heel in D’Onta Foreman, wasn’t working, good things suddenly happened offensively. It’s fair to say, after last week against the Jets in the 4th and this past Sunday, the offense is much better when it’s playing from behind and not trying to force the run game, all because O’Brain still thinks it’s 1973. Sunday night’s Seahawks/Chiefs game is yet another example of how running out the clock, especially starting in the first quarter, is no longer a viable offensive strategy. O’Brain’s all around conservatism was another reason for Sunday’s loss.
No, the offensive line did not run block well, which isn’t surprising against the Eagles front four, but they were solid in pass pro. And, yes, the Texans’ defense was plagued by horrible matchups across the board against the pass. These are the same warts we’ve been talking about all year, so none of it should be a surprise. Nothing is going to change defensively this year, either, which is why this offense should be aiming for 35 points a game, not settling for 23.
The best thing that can happen for the Texans is for O’Brain to get Mularkey’d. With so much offensive potential from just Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, it would be the best Christmas present for Texans’ fans. Watson is a Ferrari, and O’Brain wants to use him to go to the corner store once a week. It’s an immense waste of Watson’s talent, and Sunday is yet another reason why.
Eyes On Next Week
Alright, here’s the “So You’re Saying There’s A Chance” scenario for the Texans to take the No. 1 seed:— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) December 24, 2018
KC loses to OAK
HOU beats JAX
NE loses to NYJ
LAC loses to DEN
Goes down to Strength of Victory for HOU-KC after LAC loses AFCW. HOU has that locked up with the NYJ win.