Texans – Bengals: In A Nutshell

I’m feeling a variety of emotions after the Texans 13 – 9 win over the Bengals Thursday night.

Happiness? It ain’t one of them.

It should be something I’m feeling. I won’t lie, I totally jumped up and gleefully shouted obscenities at a television when Watson took off on that glorious game winning 49 yard scamper.

His scramble to set up Ka’imi Fairbairn’s insurance field goal, and said 42 field goal provided moments of relief. And I enjoyed Kareem Jackson’s forced fumble, along with Jadeveon Clowney’s big return where he held the football like a lacrosse stick.

Some other neat things:

  • It’s a good thing that Brian Cushing (who would have been out with a concussion even if he wasn’t suspended 1- games) didn’t play. There’s no way he’d have been able to cover Giovanni Bernard or Tyler Eifert. Rookie Zach Cunningham filled in and had himself a pretty solid game.
    He has some impressive sideline to sideline speed.
  • Bernardrick McKinney bounced back from a shaky game against the Jaguars with a productive performance (2 sacks, another TFL, plus 2 QB hits).
  • Kareem Jackson didn’t just force a fumble. He had a sack and another tackle for a loss, and led the team with 7 tackles on the game. He’s going to be very important should Johnathan Joseph AND Kevin Johnson miss significant time.
  • D.J. Reader made several hustle plays, and Eddie Pleasant stepped up late when the Texans’ defensive back depth was hurting.
  • Watt and Clowney were better. The stats weren’t there for J.J., but a few plays happened because of his presence. As for Clowney? I think it might be time to put him back at defensive end exclusively . . . but at least he wasn’t getting pushed around by a rookie tackle.
  • Please give more carries to D’Onta Foreman.  32 of his 40 rushing yards came after contact. There isn’t a lot of space to run every play. Let the tank take over.
  • They didn’t allow 10 sacks! 3 isn’t great. But progress, I guess?
  • And Shane Lechler has quite the 41 year old leg.

But for the most part, Thursday was the following range of emotions:

Amusement

  • Can you believe Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured coach in the NFL? And that offensive coordinator Ken Zampese (fired after the game) ended up being the fall guy for the latest Bengals’ disappointment?
  • Can you believe that there was a legitimate push to make Andy Dalton the NFL MVP just two seasons ago?
  • The 1939 Eagles are the last NFL team that was unable to score a touchdown despite their first two games being at home!

Boredom

  • There were 16 combined punts for 774 yards on the game.

Terror

  • Dear Deshaun, DON’T DIE, DON’T DIE, DON’T DIE!
  • The Texans had incredible depth at cornerback last season thanks to A.J. Bouye. They do not have that same luxury this season. With both Kevin Johnson (who just keeps getting hurt and will be out a while) AND Johnathan Joseph getting banged up . . . I’m concerned about what Tom Brady might do to this unit next week.

Exasperation

  • Q1: A toss sweep to Lamar Miller for 2 on 3rd and 5?
  • Q2: A Lamar Miller run on 3rd and 1? Where was Foreman?
  • Why do the Texans keep putting Jadeveon Clowney in coverage? He looked totally lost on a play that should have been a Bengals touchdown. I don’t know if it was Corey Moore or Clowney who was supposed to cover Tyler Eifert, but he was WIDE open. Luckily, Eifert ran out of bounds and came back in before making the catch. Illegal touch.
  • Watson’s first read option run came in the fourth quarter?

Frustration

  • It took 2 series to get D’Onta Foreman on the field?
  • Checkdowns to running backs worked really well for the Ravens against Cincy in week 1. They worked when the Texans used them Thursday. Why weren’t there more of these?
  • A.J. Green is really good, but come on . . . Jackson and especially Joseph could have made the play here

Rage

  • Drops. DeAndre Hopkins is paid too much for the amount he’s had over the last couple of years. Braxton Miller, what do you do?
  • Every sighting of left guard Xavier Su’a Filo getting blown off the ball. It took ONE PLAY for him to get crushed. Watson’s first throw of the game!

I get all the obstacles that the Texans had to deal with Thursday night. A rookie quarterback’s first start . . . in a road game . . . on a short week . . . behind a bad offensive line . . . with 3 tight ends missing . . . along with 2 wide receivers out (Fuller, Ellington) . . . and a running back too (Blue). But I’m tired of this Bill O’Brien offense.

I suppose it’s possible for O’Brien to copy Chiefs coach Andy Reid next Sunday. Reid’s successful formula against the Patriots in the season opener was a work of art. But it isn’t likely.

I’m hoping to be surprised next week. Unfortunately, I doubt I will be. O’Brien’s offense is a . . . weird one, to be polite. The passing game features ALL THE TARGETS to DeAndre Hopkins and a lot of short passes on third and long. The running game is a 3 yard and a cloud of dust machine. Lamar Miller, D’Onta Foreman (let’s be honest, he’s better than Lamar), Alfred Blue, and Tyler Ervin might have specific roles, but their usage is seemingly determined by dice rolls. Screens are rare. Draws on third and long are often. And considering the legs on Deshaun Watson – you know, the only reason the Texans won Thursday – you’d think the offense would feature more bootlegs and read option plays. Sadly, it has not to this point.

The Texans won Thursday. Ultimately, that’s all that matters (Doesn’t matter Brian!) to Bill O’Brien and company. But they won against a team that might be the league’s worst (though Cincy would probably argue this) AND most dysfunctional. And all the warts and other junk that have been themes since 2014? They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesday 9-11 PM CT, Wednesdays and Fridays 8-11 PM CT – on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.

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