HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – They say it’s a privilege to cover the NFL. A job where the beautiful game and the heroes that play it are the only two things that matter.

And then you’re forced to watch the Oakland Raiders quit for 60 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy the Texans are 2-0, and I liked a lot of things that I saw on Sunday. But when you combine the following…

  • Oakland’s joke field – with the out of place baseball diamond in the middle and random end-zone patches
  • CBS’s F-Team of Andrew Catalon and Steve Beuerlein on the call/butchering player names
  • Mike Carey joining that call – all the while awkwardly complimenting every penalty flag
  • And what felt like a 40 minute finish to a game that was never close

 

…Sunday felt more like watching a Tuesday Night MAC game. A game where one of those MAC teams cancelled last minute, and a division III team was called at the last minute to fill in. Take it away Brent Musberger:

“You are looking live…at Kelly/Shorts Stadium…for a Tuesday edition of Mid-American Conference Football…as the Central Michigan Chippewas host the Eastern Michigan Eagles…with directional Michigan bragging rights on the line.

…Wait a minute. What’s that Frank? Oh. The Eastern Michigan bus broke down tonight. In their place, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags!”

Needless to say, the odds of Brent feeling like this for the Chippewas and Stags = VERY low. Unless he was making vague references to gambling. Because OBVIOUSLY you take CMU in that one. No matter the spread.

Anyway – theoretical games that could never happen aside – here are my takeaways from the Texans’ 30-14 victory over the Raiders.

THE GOOD

Steamrolling Start

The Texans offensive line was flat out dominant. They paved huge holes for Arian Foster – who rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries – and the ground game, which totaled 46 carries for 186 yards. And they finished off the Raiders with a 14 play, 14 run, field goal drive that ate up 9:21 seconds of clock.

The Raiders didn’t want ANY of it. Tackle Duane Brown – who thinks this unit could be the best line he’s ever been a part of – said Oakland’s defense was visibly frustrated down the stretch. You want an offensive line that can make the opposition quit or cry EVERY GAME. And for the first time since 2011, the Texans may actually have that on the entire offensive line. Give credit to the development of Brandon Brooks AND Derek Newton for this two game start.

But How Do You Like THESE Apples, Oh Genius Janitor?

“Hey bro, I may have a pony tail. But you’re a bleeping janitor. Please shine my glass, peasant.”
– What Ponytail Bro should have said in Goodwill Hunting.

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s start to the season should have Harvard grads everywhere feeling smug. He hasn’t thrown an interception – something we all assumed he would. Because he’s done it plenty of times before. And he hasn’t been sacked. Which is in part because of the group listed above. Still, give him credit for being able to avoid AND escape the rush.

But what I like most about Fitzpatrick? He doesn’t have a strong arm. Yet unlike Matt Schaub, – who was hesitant to throw the ball in tight windows (in my opinion because of said limited arm strength) – Fitzpatrick has complete trust in his receivers. He’s willing to throw a pass to DeAndre Hopkins while he’s blanketed in the end zone. Or to Andre Johnson in triple coverage over the middle. Or to lob a ball to Garrett Graham’s back shoulder 26 yards down field.

Also – unlike Schaub – Fitzpatrick helped the team go 9 of 15 on third downs, and made a ballsy audible to a draw (which panned out for a 16 yard gain) on an early third and nine. It has only been two games, but we may have been overly pessimistic about the quarterback situation this season.

The Raiders Wish They Had Billingsley’s Dad

The Texans have 6 takeaways this season. They had just 11 all of last year. Bam.

I could give Bill Barnwell/Mike Meltser/Sean Pendergast credit as part of “Team Regression To The Mean”. Instead, I’ll go old man mode and pull this Belichick line out of my hat even though it really doesn’t do anything to help disprove them.

Actually, I’ll do this. To get those takeaways, you need smart players that won’t give up on plays and who have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. And it may be just me, but this defense looks infinitely more aware of what it needs to do and where it needs to be this season. I’ll give credit to the players, and to Romeo Crennel as well.

Also, isn’t “Swagg” the greatest? I bet he got an earful while watching film for doing this…

…instead of getting down-field and blocking for Joseph. I think you can do better than a Peter Pan pose, bro.

He can still improve – especially in coverage. But since he’s done a good job impersonating Charles Tillman the last two games (2 forced fumbles, 1 recovery), I’m MORE than okay with him being hysterical.

Also, THIS Happened

Do I even need to say anything?

THE BAD

Derek Didn’t Look Like David

And that might be a credit to Derek, who looked poised and calm in the pocket in just his second career game. Sure, he threw a pair of bad interceptions – one right to Kareem Jackson and the other to Brooks Reed while attempting to escape a sack. Other than that, he looked unaffected by the Texans’ pass rush – which went sackless, hitting him 6 times and hurrying him 11.

And that’s concerning. The Texans were all over Robert Griffin III’s case in week 1…sacking him 3 times and hitting him 12. The pressure was there before Jadeveon Clowney’s injury. And it was there after with Whitney Mercilus subbing for Clowney. So where was it for most of the game against Oakland? A team with a rookie quarterback and a largely mediocre offensive line? Right now, the rush is the Texans’ biggest issue.

But Other Than That?

There were some bad penalties – specifically a delay of game on the one yard line and a couple of Ryan Griffin holds – but this game was over so quickly that they really weren’t issues. 2-0 feels pretty good.

Just try to avoid last year. Thanks.

Paul Gallant hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – with Brien Straw. Get in contact with Paul on Twitter – @PaulyGSays – or on Facebook – Paul Gallant.

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