I had a really tough time watching last week’s Texans – Panthers game. In fact, I fell asleep TWICE during that swamp of a game. Still, I took solace assuming this: That there’s no way ANY game the rest of the year will be as brutal of a watch.
And then Sunday happened.
Hey, at least the outcome was better. The Texans took down the Buccaneers 19 – 9 for their first win of 2015. But I should have remembered the golden rule of sequels: short of the greatest twist of all time . . .
[Note: If I get just ONE “WTF PAUL, WHY DID YOU SPOIL THAT” I’m just going to snap. Empire Strikes back came out like 30 years ago, bro. Culture yourself.]
Who are you, and what have you done with our boy Blue?
Outside of last year’s game against the Cleveland Browns, Alfred Blue has typically looked like THIS Blue in Old School:
As in, he’s typically dead. But not Sunday. Behind an offensive line with a little stability, Blue had 31 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown. Blue looked SIGNIFICANTLY more decisive than he has in the past. There wasn’t a whole lot of hesitation on his part.
The Bucs front seven – despite defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David – may not be that good. Still, the Texans offensive line deserves a lot of credit for helping Blue out. They seemed in sync for the first time all season (despite no Duane Brown) – rolling out Chris Clark at left tackle, Oday Aboushi at left guard, Ben Jones at center, Brandon Brooks at right guard, and Derek Newton at right tackle to start the game.
Unfortunately, that starting unit wasn’t able to finish the game. Again. Brandon Brooks left with an ankle injury, and Newton – who has already played left guard in addition to right tackle – slid in at right guard, with Kendall Lamm replacing him at right tackle.
After the game, O’Brien said Newton could play center too if asked. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but his presence has given a unit with little depth as much flexibility as possible.
Meanwhile, how about Clark and Aboushi? Those two – with Clark acquired by trade after training camp, and Aboushi claimed on waivers – MASHED, especially on the Texans’ 14 play, 76 yard, 6:52 long field goal drive that iced the game late in the fourth quarter. It’s not easy to come in and learn a new offensive system, but offensive line coach Mike Devlin and those two got it done. Game balls.
DeAndre Hopkins’ concussion – which had him listed as probable heading into Sunday – wasn’t much of a factor. Number 10 quietly put together another classic @NukDaBomb stat-line: 8 catches for 101 yards and a 5 yard TD grab from Ryan Mallett. I shudder to think how bad this offense would be without him.
Johnathan Joseph received a lot of criticism last week for his start to 2015 . . . with some even questioning the extension he got this offseason. Talk like that was way over the top to me. After all, Joseph was clearly the Texans’ second best defender down the stretch last season.
But he wasn’t playing that way the first two weeks of the season, and there was plenty of reason to be nervous about how he’d fare against behemoth Bucs receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
Joseph was clearly up for the challenge. He didn’t have an interception . . . but he did have a career high FIVE deflections against Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston. We’ll see if this kick starts another good campaign.
Kevin Johnson also deserves mention for his play out there. It may be just three weeks into the year, but it’s clear to me that the Texans made a good pick.
As for Kareem Jackson’s day against Mike Evans . . . it wasn’t great. But let’s move on.
Nowhere to Run
Doug Martin was . . . ‘SMARTIN after that game, AM I RIGHT? Yes, I am right. This is because the Texans held him to 46 yards on 14 carries, and stuff.
As for the pass rush? It was there . . . but not to the degree we wanted. The Texans front seven wasn’t able to sack Jameis Winston. Still, they did put pressure on him . . . holding the rookie under 50% passing and helping to create a Quentin Demps interception.
That’s all fine and dandy. But the Texans need to get to the quarterback much more next week against Matt Ryan and the undefeated Falcons.
Ryan Mallett had an average, game manager kind of stat line. Yeah, he actually completed 61.5% of his passes. But on a day where he threw the ball 39 times, he had just 229 yards to show for it.
It wasn’t the offensive line’s fault . . . they had their best day of the year. And he had plenty of help from his running game – see the Alfred Blue section above – much like his best career game last year against the Browns. Mallett’s average day was on . . . well . . . Mallett.
That play where Nate Washington forgot to look back didn’t help . . .
. . . but neither did Mallett’s interception to Kwon Alexander . . . not to mention a handful of throws LASERED into tight coverage. The only good that you can take away from those misfires? Mallett threw the ball so hard, the defenders couldn’t catch it.
The Buccaneers’ Brains
The thing about Pirates?
. . . they lack discipline. 10 Penalties. 84 yards. It’s to be expected, and can be attributed to many of the following factors:
- Alcohol, obviously
- Yellow Fever
- Dry Belly Ache
WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW.
I have a serious question. Remember when Joe Marciano was the Texans’ special team coordinator? And when Gary Kubiak replaced him with Bob Ligashesky? Well . . .
. . . this would be the twist to save your career, M. Night Shyamalan.
Holy crap man, the Texans’ special teams are BRUTALLY bad. They have no idea who their punt returner is . . . going from Keith Mumphery last week to a returner by committee with Chandler Worthy and Cecil Shorts III Sunday. They were penalized on two punt returns: Akeem Dent was called for unnecessary roughness in the first quarter, and Kevin Johnson was called for holding in the fourth. Worthy and Shorts averaged 3.4 yards per return, with Worthy muffing one of them. And Jumalle Rolle let a Shane Lechler punt from the Bucs’ 38 bounce past him and into the end zone for a touchback.
On top of that, Randy Bullock missed another field goal AND an extra point. Luckily, Tampa Bay’s Kyle Brindza out-sucked Bullock with missed 3 field goals and an extra point . . . yet somehow made a 58 yard kick. Go figure.
Paul Gallant co-hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM – 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 at his facebook page: Paul Gallant: SportsRadio610.