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Incompletions: Texans-Raiders (Take My Pectoral)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, and not enough time for one person to write about it all, the Masthead joins together and writes about Deshaun Watson keeping this thing running.

Oakland Raiders v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Matt Weston:

I don’t think funny is the right word. Poetic? Maybe that’s it. Strange. I don’t know. But after spending the season saving himself to rush the passer, J.J. Watt came from the backside of run play to make a negative six yard run tackle. Discomfort. Run to the locker room. Out for the year for the third time in the last four seasons. Tear my pectoral. Pull out my teeth instead.

Previously everything Watt provided was an added bonus once his health became a question. Down the mountain’s crooked peak. This is what happens to professional football players. Unlike previous seasons though, Watt is the entirety of their pass rush, he was the key component, not a bonus.

This time the Texans don’t have the talent to make up for it on the defensive side of the ball. Instead, Deshaun Watson is the one who will save the season from every possible calamity. Wildfires. Monsoons. Rapid slobbering packs of dogs that carried my little sister off.

With Watson the Texans are never dead. There isn’t a level of insurmountable turmoil. Scratched cornea, nearly blind, in the grasp, touchdown pass. It really doesn’t matter. As long as he’s playing Houston will scrape and claw through one possession games and win enough coin flips to stay relevant throughout all of it.



There are no superlatives left to describe Deshaun Watson. We need to invent a new language with new words to truly appreciate what Watson can do.

The simple truth is that Sunday’s game was yet another filled with a lot of stupid football. The Texans’ secondary is currently manned by three guys signed off the street, the hot dog vendor, and the guy who yells at people on S. Main. No, the other guy.

Yet, the Raiders still insisted on rushing the ball 23 times at 4.0 yards/rush. No, that’s not terrible, but that’s nowhere close to the 9.5 yards/pass from Carr, who threw only 30 passes. When you consider the Texans are still an elite run stopping defense, that’s stupid football.

Bill O’Brien said during the week that you lose more games than you win, and he did his damnedest to lose this game.

Deshaun Watson put this team on his back and carried them to victory on Sunday, even throwing one TD while doing his best cyclops imitation. For my money, especially when you consider how hamstrung he is by terrible play calling, Watson is the best QB in the NFL today. Just imagine what he could do with a real head coach and offensive coordinator.



At some point this season I’m going to learn to not pick the Texans to win or loss a game by more than a touchdown. The lone game where that hasn’t been the case was against a bad Falcons team. This game was classic Texans. BOB’s play calling was on full display, the pass rush was non-existent, the secondary forgot how to cover at critical moments, and Deshaun Watson (A.K.A. The Magician/The Wizard) pulled a touchdown out of a sack for the win.

Obviously, the biggest story coming out of this game will be the J.J. Watt injury. With Watt sidelined with another season-ending injury, it may be time to ask the question of when he will hang up his cleats. We can worry about that in the offseason though. The immediate implications are more dire. The Texans are a top-heavy team, with one of the few defensive stars now missing, it’s going to cause Romeo to get creative in how he’s going to stop opposing offense’s the rest of the season. Without a serious pass rush and a bad secondary, we should get ready for some games with high scores.

Finally, the lack of depth in the Texans roster was a huge problem last season. It was barely acknowledged during this offseason and we are now reaping the benefits of ignoring such a crucial part of today’s NFL. Injuries are beginning to pile up. Watt is the biggest one yesterday since he’s gone for the year, but Tunsil and Lonnie Johnson Jr. both left the game as well. Injuries happen in the NFL, but they can be especially devastating to a team that has zero depth. The offensive line looked bad again yesterday and worse once Tunsil left. The secondary was already missing Jonathan Joseph and Bradley Roby before Johnson left and we ended up playing the backups backup.

All in all, a win is a win. The Texans kept pace in the AFC South and only have one game against the Jags in London before getting a much needed bye week.



Diehard Chris:

I know the Raiders aren’t great, but they are an NFL team. The fact that the Texans beat an NFL team on Sunday with no pass rush, five starters inactive to start the game, and having lost SEVERAL more by the time the game ended - is actually kind of impressive to me.

On defense, I don’t really know what more you could want out of Romeo Crennel considering the talent level he was limited to. Your two starting corners and one of your starting safeties were inactive. During the game you lose your only pass rush, JJ Watt, and your top active corner Lonnie Johnson Jr., to injuries. You had two corners in Gareon Conley (via trade with the Raiders) and Cornell Armstrong (via promotion from practice squad) who essentially joined the team this week and logged significant playing time. Keion Crossen got several snaps at corner. I mean, my god. To only give up 24 points to a below average to at-best average Raiders team in that scenario, to me, shows the defense dug deep and did what they could with the tools on hand.

The offense is a slightly different story from my perspective. They looked lost and poorly-coached early, and once again failed to log any points on the first drive. Multiple pre-snap penalties by the offense - really guys? They struggled to get the run game going early, Watson was running for his life again, and then the injury to Laremy Tunsil, which resulted in a tackle combo of Chris Clark and Dan Skipper. This had me screaming once again into the bleak, dark void.

Oh and then there’s Deshaun Watson. Clearly with this banged-up (and often bad when healthy) secondary, a future with zero un-manufactured pass rush in the wake of losing JJ Watt, and an inconsistent and/or banged-up offensive line - this entire season will be (and has been) about what No. 4 can do on a week to week basis. Is he the rare bad Deshaun? Loss. Is he average? Probably loss. Is he really good? Maybe win. Is he great? Still, MAYBE win. He may be Superman, but he’s only on one side of the ball and how many more sharp spins, hard stops with change of direction, and KICKS TO THE EYE can he take before he just can’t do it anymore? I hope we don’t need to find out.