For the last 2.25 seasons, it was obvious to that Bill O’Brien shouldn’t be the head coach of the Houston Texans. He got the bare minimum out of this team during his tenure, his offensive scheme and design actively hurt Deshaun Watson, and then, after that, he left the team smoldering in the rubble of brash and ridiculous personnel decisions that lacked any sort of long term plan or strategy and were often made because his little feelings were hurt or in the name of a bland and hideous culture.
During this time, most of us stopped being Texans fans. The Texans morphed from a collection of 53 players to the failures of an inept dictator. O’Brien controlled and dominated every aspect of this team. His decisions and gameplans were the focus of every week and every offseason. We stopped watching the Texans. We watched O’Brien instead. I rarely felt anything watching the games; most didn’t either. This team was slathered and drowning in an ocean of malaise. We were watchers of the Houston Texans (in an extremely Phil Simms voice) but we weren’t Houston Texans fans.
I often wondered what it would be like once O’Brien left, how it would feel to have this aspect of my life back—the part of me that cares about the team instead of just watching the team, because it’s hard to care about something when you know the end result is an already determined letdown. Yesterday was even better than those strange, squirming feelings I dreamt about.
It started on the first offensive play of the game. I’ll always love Timmy for calling this shot. Brandin Cooks lined up in a tight offensive split. The ball on the opposite hash. Plenty of space to work toward the sideline. Matched up one-on-one against Chase Claybrooks. Cooks chopped his feet, planted, bounced wide, and created the horizontal separation needed to outrun Claybrooks vertically. The ball was placed perfectly. It took five weeks, but Cooks finally won a vertical route.
Overall, the Texans’ offense was better than it looked all season. Sure, there is the opponent to factor in here. The Jaguars had their backups who back up their bad cornerbacks on the field. Myles Jack and Josh Allen missed the game with injuries; both of those players were the focal points of a front seven that deployed the worst pass rush in the NFL. Andrew Wingard stepped off the field with a core injury. A backup came to replace an already bad safety. That being said, Houston finally won their man coverage match-ups, went to more empty and spread passing sets, and Watson finally looked like Watson, averaging more than ten yards an attempt.
The Texans played the hits until the end of the game. I’ll always love Romeo Crennel for this. Up by 9, with 4:46 remaining and a field goal being meaningless, Crennel kept Watson on the field. Man coverage again. Cooks versus Claybrooks again. This time Claybrooks kept inside leverage and angled himself to wall off Cooks from anything inside breaking, trying to squeeze him out wide. His feet stuck in place. Cooks merely ran underneath this manufactured ideal. Catching the pass, outrunning his tackle attempt, waiting for Kenny Stills to get out of the way—we got things to do today—and breaking it up field where no safety was to be found.
After kicking cowardly field goal after cowardly field goal, after kicking cowardly punt after cowardly punt, Crennel metaphorically stuck O’Brien’s face in it, going for it on fourth down, getting the touchdown, and effectively ending any chance of a Jacksonville comeback. Hopefully O’Brien was out on his back porch. Sitting in the sun’s light. Watching the game and realizing what a neverending series of tremendous mistakes his existence held as the head coach of this football team.
Are the Texans going to make the NFL Playoffs? There’s a 0.00001% chance. No, probably not. Are the Texans a head coach away from being a good football team? No. Was the defensive effort misleading thanks to two ridiculous decisions and a missed field goal? Yes. But who cares? It’s hard to win games in the National Football League. The Texans finally got one. The poisoned, stinking thing has been removed. The roof is open. Double birds right at you. Romeo Crennel is dancing and we will never die.
O course, most of all, it’s just fun being a fan and having our favorite football team back again. Really, at the end of it all, that’s all that matters.
I’m excited to be a fan of the Houston Texans today instead of just watching the Houston Texans— Matt Weston (@Matt__Weston) October 11, 2020
Victory[ vik-tuh-ree, vik-tree ]
noun, plural vic·to·ries.
- a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war.
It has been so long since the Texans could claim a victory of any sort (Jan 4, 2020 aka over 9 months), that I had to look-up the definition of the word. Yeah, a lot has happened in the world since then. (Yes, I know that football is not akin to an actual war, but it can be a battle/contest).
As for the game, well, we were playing the Jags, who aren’t good, and they gifted us two missed short field goals, a dumb 4th down play, and a bad defense missing key players. Still, there were some encouraging signs. We didn’t force-fed the run for the sake of running the ball. We spread the ball around and called plays within the flow of the game. We displayed some calculated aggression to go for it on 4th down in the 4th quarter, and the D got some actual turnovers.
This is not to say that we are all of a sudden primed to win out. Our overall defense has consistency issues and the offense will have to be the force that drives victory. We have two rough games coming up (depending on whether the Titans are past their COVID issues). We could go into the bye at 1-6. The trade deadline is 2 weeks away, and we could go into fire sale mode to try to clear the fallout from the BO’B GM self-inflicted nuking.
However, that is in the future. For today, let us enjoy the win, as the Texans are on the board, and it was kinda entertaining how they got there.
I WAS THERE THE ENTIRE TIME.
This is why you watch the game pic.twitter.com/b8kWCXcjA6— Matt Weston (@Matt__Weston) October 12, 2020
Deshaun Watson, Brandin Cooks, and the rest of the Houston offense finally looked like they should have all season. Granted, it took them playing the Jacksonville Jaguars to get there, a team whose only win in 2020 came against the division rival Indianapolis Colts in Week One. Sure, Houston wasn’t facing the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense when they did it, but they beat an NFL team. When wins are this rare, you take what you can get.
While the run game didn’t look as spectacular as the passing attack, it’s refreshing to not see the team try and force the run over and over and over. With 161 yards, Brandin Cooks secured the third most single game receiving yards in the 2020 season so far among all NFL pass catchers. If he, Will Fuller V, and Kenny Stills can take turns putting up that sort of performance every week, Deshaun Watson’s detractors will get quiet really quick.
The defense wasn’t lights out, but it did force the first turnover of the season and record the first game where an opponent didn’t rush for over 100 yards since the days of yore.
All in all, you could put caveats against this win all day, but a win is a win is a win. We’ll take it. The Romeo Crennel era is batting 1.000. Now it’s time to take on Tennessee.
Romeo Crennel on what he did to help loosen the team up this week: "I think maybe my personality, I do smile some. I can joke with them a little bit ... Well, the players are the ones who did it. That's what I've been telling them all week, that they had the ability to do it." pic.twitter.com/h1k8ZnmQ8c— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) October 11, 2020
There’s just a different sense to this team now, and it’s so gratifying to see and feel.
We beat up a bad team on Sunday, but we were supposed to. Tim Kelly showed just enough different playcalling to make the offense look better. If he can continue to adapt and evolve to better treat his weapons, this should be a dangerous offense. And by that, I mean much more dangerous than 30 points.
Defensively, the team had moments! Whitney Mercilus did a thing! J.J. Watt was FEARSOME all game. This defense is going to be a problem for the foreseeable future - BOB mortgaged to improve his terrible offense, ignoring the defense - but Anthony Weaver dialed up some fun blitzes and made an impact.
Eh, were you hoping for a championship push? Life is short and we've got no draft picks, so I'd just enjoy the W's when they come. https://t.co/SlMOIILXyI— Seth C. Payne (@SethCPayne) October 11, 2020
Seth Payne put it pretty well when he said that this team should “enjoy the Ws when they come”.
Seeing the Texans remove the winless tag to the season was nice, but the game was a drag for a while. Jacksonville did a lot of foot-shooting when it came to their play calling, especially when they decided to abandon the run so early in the game. Not to mention that RB direct snap on 4th down.
The Texans’ defense did a pretty good job of handling the short passing game and only lapsed a few times. Jacob Martin is getting better and better every week. Minshew handed us a few sacks with all of his maneuvering through the pocket.
Houston’s offense was so much more aggressive than weeks prior. We stayed spread out for most of the game and weren’t afraid to take shots down the field. Brandin Cooks had himself a nice game, it’ll take a repeat performance against a better defense to prove he can be consistent.
There are still plenty of kinks to work out with this team. We still have matchups against the Colts, Titans (maybe), Packers, Bears, and even the Browns on the docket. Some of those games could potentially get pretty ugly, but let’s enjoy the symbolic middle finger that the team just threw at BOB.