There isn’t a better setting for a truly stupid masterpiece than a professional football game in a soccer stadium. Last season the Chargers rose above the waves, and finally saw the truth, only to fall back under with limbs flailing again this season. In 2018 they made field goals, they went for it on 4th down at the correct times and nailed two point conversions, they stayed relatively healthy, and they won the close games they always lose. The pumpkin is a pumpkin once again. They almost blew 24-9 lead to the Colts, but they resuscitated it in overtime. Last week the Lions failed to stop them on each of their second half drives, but somehow, the Chargers managed to not score at all. They lost two touchdowns one drive because of holding penalties. That drive ended with Austin Ekeler fumbling at the goal line. They missed two field goals. Philip Rivers kicked the stool and threw a double coverage interception into the end zone.
Yesterday was a continuation of last week. The Chargers lost another Chargers game, and the Texans almost lost another Texans game. Only the Chargers could outlast them. Only the Chargers couldn’t find a game winning scoring drive to erase what Watson had just accomplished.
Deshaun Watson evaporated out of a cataclysmic pass rush and beat the blitz only in a way that he can found. He found Jordan Akins crossing across the center of the field and dumped it off to him. From there Akins turned it into a 53 yard touchdown aided by a cross country Kenny Stills block. At 27-17 with 9:53 left in the fourth quarter, each and every person familiar with these two teams were salivating for the stupidity, and wondering just how stupid it could possibly end.
The Chargers kicked a field goal to put them within one score. Houston went run, run, sack. 4:19 left, the Chargers would have the chance to tie it. Bets were placed on how stupid this could possibly get. A strip sack ending it all? Romeo Crennel’s cover four stretched apart and waltzed all over for an easy score and a Mike Williams two point conversion? Watson getting another shot, a Ka’imi Fairbairn missed field goal, and an overtime loss? And the coffee stain in the bottom of my cup told me Ty Long would miss the extra point and give Houston the win. Whatever anyone could come up with was possible, and whatever actually happened would be so far removed from what we could come up with.
Instead it ended in a less interesting, but just as dumb fashion of its own. The Chargers converted on 4th and 13 after a 15 yard Keenan Allen reception. They converted on 4th and 2 after Ekeler picked up 4 yards on an interior shotgun run. Travis Benjamin dropped a ROYGBIV into the cradle touchdown throw. 3rd and 14 was converted after Lonnie Johnson Jr. gave up a 17 yard pass to Mike Williams in one v. one coverage. But Trent Scott held Charles Omenihu on an inside move. Philip Rivers then missed his next two passes. A Watson kneel was the last clump of Earth.
After last season, when the Texans feasted on the worst passing offenses in football, it was going to be riveting to see how Houston would react when teams finally threw the ball and attacked their secondary. To combat it the Texans needed to have the pass rush make big plays and provide enough pressure to make up for it, and the offense to play shootout and utilize an aggressive game plan. After all of that, they would need a little luck to pull them through on top. This season it’s happened twice. They’ve gone 1-1 in these two matchups. The first, saw Drew Brees lead a game winning field goal attempt, and this one ended with the Chargers being the Chargers.
The biggest difference between the two was the pass rush. The Saints have one of the best offensive lines in football. The Chargers have a wretched tackle combination. The Texans sacked hit Brees three times and sacked him once. The Texans hit Rivers 12 times, sacked him five times, and forced a fumble. J.J. Watt won the matchups he had to win, D.J. Reader was overwhelming on the interior and has launched off as a pass rusher, and Crennel ran some diabolical combinations to get Benardrick McKinney involved as a rusher.
The pass rush usually won’t be this good. Offensive tackle combination don’t get worse than this. Yet, with Watson, there isn’t a reality out there that doesn’t exist. He is that most glorious sound. When the offense is aggressive, pushing the ball downfield, taking the ball out of the running backs hands, and allowing Watson to win it, they can play with anyone. This didn’t happen last season, but it’s happening this season. Houston is finally matching the best passing offenses in the league.
I don’t like to think too far ahead of the schedule in a week to week game where so much changes after the turn of another Sunday. But after this game, after this performance, after what Watson was able to accomplish, all my brain can do is extrapolate this across thirteen other games. If Houston devours the teams that have to run the ball: Jacksonville, Tennessee, Denver, Indianapolis, and wins enough of these stupid one possession games, the 2019 season will be a memorable one, and be far and away different than the apocalyptic one that was easy to envision after the summertime terrors.
Leaving the stadium right now. First away game. Got to say that there were 4-5,000 Texans fans. If you couldn’t hear it live, being at the game, the Texans fans were loud and present in Los Angeles. Even the ref at one point forgot we were in LA. I’ve been to Texans games where we won and we weren’t as loud. I’ll need to watch to see what happened to the Chargers defense in the second half, but they were a disaster. Dignity Health Stadium is where the LA Galaxy play, not the Chargers.
This game was quite a good articulation of what the Texans will need to happen week in and week out in order to win games.
Watson having time to throw deep. Fuller and Hopkins being able to create separation on two route concepts.
The defense line getting enough stops for the offense to gain a few extra possessions to make up for the ones in which BOB decides ‘’establishing the run’’ is the most prudent choice.
The Texans can’t fix what they are bad at right now. Unless they trade for Jalen Ramsey or something silly, this secondary isn’t getting better. The O-Line will have weeks where it can keep Watson clean and weeks where it’ll be a sieve. All they can hope for is that they get enough plays similar to the ones that happened today to counteract their maddening inconsistency (such as what we saw in the first half).
Deshaun was great, but he wasn’t an A today. He easily could have had two picks but the Chargers DBs didn’t pull them down. Big breaks.
Speaking of the DBs, they were gassed on the last drive but I thought Tashun Gipson, Johnathan Joseph, and Justin Reid showed mental toughness in the end and it was just enough. Close, but just enough.
The tight ends were great. Jordan Akins and Darren Fells seemed to be on the same page with Watson and made the clutch plays.
We needed more Will Fuller. We got more Fuller.. in spots. The long catch that set up Carlos Hyde’s TD, I want that injected in my veins every Sunday.
Great win, they should be 3-0, but 2-1 isn’t bad. They should walk into KC at 4-1 if BOB has a soul.
See Philadelphia, New England, Kansas City, Or Seattle:
What a bizarre, stupid, and exciting game.
If there was a game that best represented the “good” Houston Texans, this was it. The offensive line play was adequate, and if this is the line we go to war with the rest of the season, it might be the second best we have to offer (Greg Mancz >>>> Nick Martin). Whitney Mercilus has been a beast all season and is your early front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year. JJ Watt came to life, especially by utilizing bull rushes to dominate. RAC’s playcalling was imaginative and effective. DJ Reader is a different player this year. BOB didn’t kitten the bed unnecessarily at any point, which is always terrifying.
There was still plenty of “bad” in this game, especially the secondary that is going to be out-matched on a weekly basis, but it was fun seeing the “good” Texans play today.
For me, though, today was about Deshaun Watson. He missed a couple throws, true. To me, what he showed is that he’s an immensely talented QB with an unmatched ability to escape trouble.
But he has to be allowed to unleash the beast. Starting out 7/8 for 28 yards is inexcusable. When Watson does what he does best, which is be himself, he is a magical, unstoppable force of awesome.
Every game the Texans have played this season has been decided on the last possession. That’s not a long-term recipe for success, and the Texans could easily be 3-0 or 0-3. That being said, it’s nice to get the team battle-tested early in the season. The Texans have showed resolve and big play ability.
I can’t say enough good things about Deshaun Watson. Does he hold the ball too long at times? Sure. However, he also has the rare ability to escape sure-fire sacks and make big throws down the field. I’d take that all day, every day. I can’t help but imagine what Deshaun could do with a great (or even good) offensive playcaller.
The OL did a pretty good job of keeping the pocket clean for Watson, you know relatively speaking. The TE’s had a really good game. The trade-off was that our running game looked a little lackluster today. I’d love to see all aspects of the offense firing at the same time to get a feel for what we could do on a good week.
The defensive front 7 is good. J.J. Watt finally came alive and had some big plays. I didn’t know that I needed DJ Reader sack dances in my life but I love it and I want more. Whitney Mercilus is having a great season. It’s amazing that RAC wasn’t able to have J.J., Clowney, and Mercilus all rush the passer effectively when he had all three. The secondary is going to struggle all season. I’m tired of talking about it though so just assume that happens in every game.
All in all, that was good team win. Obviously, I’d love to win every game by 3 touchdowns but I’ll take another win and a 2-1 record into a game against a Panthers team that is hit or miss.
Nude, Covered In Cashew Butter:
The only stat that matters is the W.
That being said, it was good to see the o-line improve. It was great to see Watson air it out and exciting to see J.J. Watt doing J.J. Watt things again.
On the flip side, they need to figure out how to stop those out routes. Drew Brees ate them up with them in week one and so did Philip Rivers. Cam Newton has a blueprint to follow and the arm to make it happen.
As someone who was expecting 0-3 at this stage, I’m happy with 2-1. Onward and upward!
There was a lot to like from Sunday. The offensive line shuffling continued, and it had its best game of the young season - against a good pass rush duo in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, no less. The Chargers were content to rush three at times, so it’s not like all of Houston’s clean pockets were because the OL was dominating, and the running game was certainly the weakest of the year. One thing at a time I suppose. Deshaun Watson held the ball too long at times, or rather all his targets were covered (can’t really tell on the TV copy).
The most encouraging thing aside from improved OL play and Deshaun getting back to being great - was that the Texans end-of-half defense actually came through and ended the game by getting a stop to win a game. This despite a dreadful performance by the secondary, which we should all get used to. My thought on the secondary through the offseason and now is that it’s different, but not better. That is holding up so far but I don’t see any reason it will change in 2019. The secondary coalescing, getting more experience and “building chemistry” is not going to make up for the need for better corner play and some questionable coaching decisions - which are largely due to, you know, the need for better corner play.
But whatever. The Texans have played two games they were supposed to lose and one they were supposed to win, and by the tightest of margins they are 2-1. I’ll take it, but I also need to see some of the positives carry over from game to game.