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Incompletions: Texans-Saints (Just Another Manic Monday)

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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 an all-time classic Texans’ loss.

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Weston:

The Texans have the top end talent to overcome the rash of inept decisions this team made this summer. This became immediately apparent after Houston’s third offensive drive. Having a competent offensive line is less important when Deshaun Watson is the quarterback. I almost cried when Duke Johnson broke a tackle on third down and converted a dumpoff into a first. DeAndre Hopkins is the best receiver in the league. The run defense, still good. The backs have the speed to blow past the second level when the offensive line occasionally moves the first. Whitney Mercilus is great when used correctly. Watson should be a MVP candidate.

Yet, at the same time, all that warm weather mismanagement held the team back. Houston outplayed New Orleans for the first three quarters until things split apart. The Texans have hung onto Seantrel Henderson starting right tackle for two seasons now. I’ve typed out this same paragraph a dozen times.

Henderson is big and moves well, but has a weak punch that doesn’t extinguish pass rushes. He offers nothing in the run game, especially at the second level. He hasn’t been good in his entire career and he hasn’t been healthy since 2014.

Well, now he’s healthy. And guess what he isn’t good.

They actually thought Matt Kalil would be the team’s starting left tackle, and it took a desperate Laremy Tunsil trade, that mortgaged the future, and the ability to add cost effective talent around Deshaun Watson once he starts making $35 million a year, to save them from this nightmare. The present reality is better than that one would have been. But that never should have been an option, and it takes more than one player to build a competent offensive line. There are four other positions. Watson was sacked 6 times, hit 11 times, and was able to drag the offense past it by playing submarine captain and making throws while being throttled. This is what happens when you have six months to sort out an offensive line that played zero preseason snaps together.

Drew Brees was sacked once and hit three times. I counted 7 quarterback pressures across his 43 drop backs. All J.J. Watt was able to muster was a drawn holding penalty against Ryan Ramcyzk, who repeatedly met him at the point of attack and timed his punches perfectly making him ineffective. It was like watching him against Braden Smith all over again. I clamored for him to move inside, and get some rush attempts against rookie Erik McCoy. All this led to was him getting swallowed up by a hydra of arms. Whitney Mercilus had one sack and seldomly slipped around Terron Armstead. Overall, against a great offensive line, the pass rush was worse than my rotten heart imagined it even would be.

The Jadeveon Clowney trade isn’t a Mercilus v. Clowney argument either. Someone didn’t have to go. A team can have more than two pass rushers. It’s actually a good thing to have multiple pass rushers. Wow, what a thought. The Texans had the cap space to keep him on the roster this season, and for the future. This didn’t have to happen. Once again, they should have added an interior rusher this season, that could have taken advantage of individual matchups once J.J. Watt was exasperated ripped apart and flayed and devoured by the zombies that had just busted through the compound. Instead Brees was able to throw unhindered without anyone breaking free through the line of scrimmage. Teams with competent tackles are going to have plenty of time to throw against Houston.

And sure, Houston only allowed three points in the first half. Teams adjust. Things changed. It took Sean Payton a half to understand what he should have known already. Don’t run the ball at the Houston Texans. Even without Clownery, it’s still an incredible unit, it’s just going to be missing the horde of negative plays that force teams into holes and one dimensional passing situations. It took the Saints a half to push the ball downfield. They brutalized Aaron Colvin, and Tashaun Gipson, and the middle of the field, while Johnathan Joseph and Bradley Roby played the sidelines against their lesser receivers. On throws that traveled ten plus yards through the air Brees was 12/15 for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Despite all of this, the Texans were able to almost win a game they should have won by at least two scores. Only the clock can stop Deshaun Watson. It took two throws and 27 seconds to turn a 21-27 deficit with :50 seconds left into a one-point lead. Then it took comfy cushions to allow a career long buzzer beating field goal attempt to come back and beat them, allowing us all together, to meld minds in a remembrance of things past, summoning days in New England, Seattle, and Philadelphia.

The frustrating thing isn’t the loss itself. One score games are coin tosses. No, the frustrating thing is this team was even in this position to begin with. With Watson on his rookie contract, transcendent talents in Watt and Hopkins, an incredible stable of skill players all with specific attributes, and a dominant run defense, this should be a slam dunk Superbowl team. After an offseason with $78 million in cap space, and four top 100 draft picks, the Texans have the exact, same, problems as last season. Secondary. Offensive line. Pass rush. Instead of bolstering the roster to seize the best Superbowl opportunity they’ve had in franchise history, and the best one since 2011, they’ll instead be playing shootout, with nails dug into the cliff, trying to hold onto enough one possession wins against the league’s best offenses.

Luke Beggs:

Good kitten the Texans don’t deserve Deshaun Watson. That final drive was a work of art with two absolutely dimes back to back with no time outs and 50 seconds on the clock to tie the game.

There was a whole lot that was not great in that game from the Texans side. The weird focus on only rushing three for the majority of the game. Aaron Colvin being on the field. The non-Laremy Tunsil members of the Texans offensive line still being a hot flaming ball of trash.

We talked before the season started about how much that this Texans team would be very much a offense focussed entity and that if they were going to win games it was going to come down to Deshaun Watson and what the offense could do. Watson will win them games but this defense is sure going to lose them more than a few.

Rush 3, Sit 8, Give Up 30

Matt Burnham:

I thought the way they came out composed in the first quarter was impressive. They were steady and paced. Not phased by the crowd. The Whitney Mercilus pick is probably why the Texans had a chance to begin with. You don’t want the Saints to go up 7-0 at home during a prime time game. Many teams have failed miserably in that situation.

The run defense was solid... at first. Then Alvin Kamara decided that he doesn’t care about contact and will just keep running anyway. Too many broken tackles and big plays.

The offensive line is in absolute shambles and I honestly feel insulted that we’re going on three years of this. Six sacks and nine quarterback hits probably means your protection couldn’t block a JV squad. It’s not just getting outmatched physically, they were out of sync mentally. Embarrassing.

The secondary is all horrible. Completely burned like someone left the thanksgiving turkey in the oven for too long. Aaron Colvin is not a good football player.

I did like the running game. Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde both had some big runs on big drives. It was actually better than I thought. I won’t pin them for this loss.

Now comes to my two biggest takeaways from this game, and I’ll start with the smaller.

1. The idea of playing prevent defense when the Saints need EIGHT YARDS is the most blasphemous play calling I’ve seen in quite some time. Get up and press, be physical, put two safeties deep. Brees walked up the field like it was nobody’s business and did his thing. Crennel, Brain, the secondary, they should all find their own transportation back to Houston. I’m so sick of seeing them blow games away. It’s going to be a while before my disappointment goes.

2. There are so few times in like when you can wake up and know you have it made. When you have a beautiful wife who gives you everything you need, or when you have a job that pays well, gives you great hours with plenty vacation time. Not many people have that type of luxury.

The Texans have Deshaun Watson. He IS that luxury. And they’re blowing it. Good luck finding a quarterback who can pull off what Deshaun pulled off. But, of course, they blew it.

They’ve done nothing to protect him aside from acquiring an overrated left tackle a week and a half ago. They didn’t address anything in the secondary. They didn’t get their first sack until the fourth quarter. Any of you know a guy who could have helped that?

There is no reason they shouldn’t be SB contenders. 25 teams would give up whatever they have for the next decade of Watson. Unfortunately, the Texans management has decided keeping him happy and healthy doesn’t matter. I’m scared that I’m watching a wasted career in someone who is barely older than me.

TGC:

Let’s not overreact, guys. Our rookie GM is still learning the ropes, but once he figures it out, he’s going to get us the personnel we need to make a real move.

At least we outscored the Astros, so there’s that.

One Offensive Tackle Doesn’t Make An Offensive Line Competent:

Capt. Ron:

This was my first-ever road game attendance for the Texans and it was absolutely fantastic! Great atmosphere, and fun town to eat and drink all weekend leading up to the game. What an exciting game, where the last team with the ball is sure to win.

Highlights:

The Texans FINALLY came out ready to play in a season opener.

Watson only needs 13 seconds and two plays to flip the outcome to a victory.

The running game was surprisingly impressive. There is enough star talent on the roster to win a championship.

Lowlights:

Colvin needs to be cut. He was burned all night and shows zero reason to have survived from the same mistakes from last season. Horrible!

The offensive line looked as bad as I expected a unit to look who have had no time together. I suspect it will improve, but not sure by how much. Brutal to witness.

O’Brien is abysmal at play calling and challenges. Nothing has changed for this predictable checkers novice who is drowning in a sea of chess champion opponents each week.

Romeo went soft at the end with prevent defense and it ensured the Saints’ victory. The lack of blitzing and random chaotic pass pressure was unfortunately an enabler for the Saints to roar to life all through the second quarter.

Overall, a fun game to attend. Much better than I expected for Houston, and a few things that obviously need to improve. Go Texans!

Mike Bullock:

Admittedly, the team did much better than I expected. The offensive play calling was some of the best I remember seeing from the Texans in some time. The team (aside from the offensive line) looked ready to play in the first game one of Bill O’Brien’s tenure. Carlos Hyde seems to be a diamond in the rough and a cast improvement over Alfred Blue. Bradley Roby outshined Tashaun Gipson even though the accolades were the other way around when the two were brought in. And, YES! Whitney Mercilus is back, baby!

Now, how would this game have looked with Jadeveon Clowney on the field? Or, if the Texans brass actually understood the need to upgrade the offensive line when free agency began this year? Rodger Saffold and at least one other starter quality linemen, partnered with Tunsil would have made a big difference. As it stands, expect Deshaun Watson’s career to be abbreviated quickly at this pace. As we’ve recently seen with Andrew Luck, a quarterback can only take so many hits before the bell tolls.

Football Memories:

Diehard Chris:

I have to admit I was wrong. I thought trading JD Clowney for essentially nothing was one of the worst personnel moves I’ve ever seen. Now I know that it was the worst one. Who could have seen this coming, other than everyone? At least we know now that the Texans will need to target a pass rusher with their first pick in the... oh. Well, maybe you grab someone in free agency and then the NEXT draft you get a... oh. Well MAYBE BARKEVIOUS MINGO WILL..... OH.

Bill O’Brien is a mediocre football coach and a DUNCE as a personnel man. What he did with Clowney is a fireable offense everywhere else. I’m not going to go crazy giving him too much credit for 1) for ONCE finally looking like he had his team ready to play to start the season, and 2) for Deshaun Watson’s greatness.

As to this game - sure, the Texans hung tough and had themselves in position to win (again), but did it ever feel like a win? Even after the Stills TD? This has happened over and over. At Seattle, at New England, at Philadelphia, (are there more?) and now at New Orleans.

Deshaun Watson is unquestionably THAT DUDE. He was so good last night. But I don’t know what the hell the Texans were doing in the second half on defense, other than going away from what worked in the first half... oh, and other than not generating any kind of a pass rush... which... I wonder what... oh.

PREVENT:

bigfatdrunk:

Deshaun Watson is a wizard. He is a singularly unique talent, and I think Houston should be renamed to Watsonville.

This Shouldn’t Have Been So Hard So Far: