Texans 30, Raiders 14: 4 Winners, 4 Losers
After a methodical 30-14 choking out of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon, the Texans moved to 2-0 on the season, Bill O'Brien becoming the first of the Texans' three head coaches in their short history to win his first two games.
The Texans have been here, at 2-0, before, though. More precisely, they've been here, at 2-0, for five straight seasons now.
But 2-0 guarantees a team nothing. The Texans are proof of this.
Two of the 2-0 finishes ended in AFC South championships and double digit wins (2011, 2012). The other two ended in disaster, with the 2010 season cratering under the weight of a wretched Frank Bush-coordinated defense to finish 6-10. The 2013 season imploded much faster, with a 14 game losing streak that just ended eight days ago.
So which 2-0 start does 2014's most closely resemble?
The answer is pretty easy.
While the 2014 version of the Texans probably isn't as talented overall and doesn't have the same upside as the 2011 and 2012 versions, the way in which they're winning games is the identical blueprint to those two teams -- take advantage of unseasoned quarterback play from your opponent, win the turnover battle, and give them a heaping dose of the running game.
That's what happened on Sunday with the Texans' forcing rookie Derek Carr into two picks, part of a plus-four win in the turnover battle, and running Arian Foster until he couldn't run anymore with 28 carries for 138 yards and a touchdown, so now is as good a time as any to start in on our winners and losers.
Let's do this...
4. Arian Foster fantasy owners So how did Bill O'Brien follow up Arian Foster's high traffic, 29-touch work fest in the season opener? Well, by having Foster touch the ball 30 times, of course. Hey, if Arian's up for the bruising, then I'm all for him sustaining it in the name of winning football. On Sunday, it was truly vintage Foster, with an explosive 40 yard run to set up the first touchdown (Been a while since we've seen that.), a touchdown of his own later in the first half (Namaste!), and his role as the backbone of multiple drives of more than eight minutes. Two weeks in, Arian Foster is the Texans most valuable player on offense, and it's really not very close.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick It was another performance from Fitzpatrick (14-19, 139 yards, 2 TD, ZERO INT's!!) where he didn't do anything fancy, but didn't do anything catastrophic either. He made sure the trains ran on time, and if he keeps doing that, it'll be good enough to win 9 or 10 games this season. Why? Well.....
2. Fans of January football ....the Texans' early season easy schedule is living up to the hype. Lines for Week 3 games came out about eight seconds after the Week 2 Sunday games ended, and the Texans are installed as 3 point favorites in New York against the Giants. This means the Texans will have been road favorites twice in the first three weeks. I have no data in front of me, but I am willing to bet my left nut that this is the first ever "2-14 team the previous season" to do this. Hey, after the 49ers loss to Chicago Sunday night, there are only seven undefeated teams left. The Texans are one of them. Teams that start out 2-0 historically go to the postseason 63 percent of the time. 2-0 is now where the Texans haven't been every season since 2010, but hey, for now (after 14 straight losses last season) that works for me.
1. J.J. Watt's MVP candidacy My Texans post game show cohost Mike Meltser has theorized early this season that J.J. Watt has a chance to be the third defensive player in league history to win MVP if a) the Texans have a huge bounce back season and b) there aren't any historical QB seasons posted by anybody. I could definitely see it happening, too. So, a week after hitting every column of the defensive stat sheet (and tacking on a blocked PAT, to boot), J.J. Watt was held without a tackle on Sunday, although he did hit Derek Carr a couple times, including on Brooks Reed's interception (a play where amazingly the Raiders appeared to experiment with using zero blockers on Watt, a poor strategy, in my opinion...yes, I know, it wasn't intentional, but it is the Raiders...can we be sure it wasn't intentional?). Even with the ho-hum defensive output, Watt probably injected more fuel into future MVP consideration with this one play on offense...
LOSERS Since there's very little at which to nitpick Texans-related, let's go with a total non-Texans "LOSERS" section. I'm not sure how many more Sundays we will be able to attack this portion of the analysis, like this...
4. RG3 jersey wearers As he continually scraped himself off the NRG Stadium turf last weekend, after all 14 of the Texans' QB hits and all three of their sacks, Robert Griffin III looked more than just beaten -- he looked injured. Repeatedly. For most of the second half, Griffin would get up slowly after taking a hit and would move gingerly back to the huddle or to the sidelines. All I could think was "God, it must be terrible to be a Redskins fan, never knowing if this hit is the one that ends RG3's season." Life with a fragile QB, man. You just never know when the killer is going to knock down your front door. Well, as it turns out, for Redskins fans, it was yesterday, and it wasn't even a contact injury. RG3 dislocated his left ankle on a simple cut on a scramble. The good news is backup Kirk Cousins came in and led the Skins to a 41-10 win and we are several weeks away (whenever Griffin's healthy) from a full fledged quarterback controversy. Juicy!
3. These two LSU fans
SEC! SEC! SEC!
2. Sunday NFL Countdown As you may have heard, last week was a terrible one for the NFL off the field, with the Ray Rice elevator punch video surfacing and the news breaking Friday (thanks to my Sports Radio 610 colleague, Nick Wright) about Adrian Peterson's indictment on charges of child abuse. These are difficult "real world" topics that have a place to be intelligently discussed within the parameters of sports programming. ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown show is most definitely NOT the proper forum. So naturally, that became the forum. Which part of the first hour of the show was most ludicrous? Well take your pick. Chris Berman's steering the ship with his arsenal of awkward pauses and his combover (which I think was some sort of subliminal commentary on the turf at NRG Stadium), Mike Ditka's uninformed babbling, both solid choices. I think my favorite part was getting views on child abuse from Ray Lewis, who may or may not have killed two people at the Super Bowl in Atlanta back in the late 90's. Honestly, flipping over to CNN and seeing five social workers discussing the merits of the zone read would've been less absurd than all of this.
1. This guy
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) September 14, 2014
That just looks way too process intensive for my tastes. I think a t-shirt or hoodie is much more efficient.