Buccaneers-Texans, Week 3 — Four Things to Watch For

Back in the day, Notre Dame head football coach Lou Holtz used to talk about inferior opponents in glowing terms. Even when he was sitting there with a roster full of future first-round NFL draft choices, Holtz would tell the media how he was "scared to death of the University of Navy." (Yes, he called it the "University of Navy.") We all rolled our eyes, and wondered if he really thought we were that stupid.

I say this because you may react the same way when I say what I'm about to say, and I would understand if you did — I am scared to death by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I'm more scared by the situation on Sunday than I am scared of the Bucs in a vacuum. At 0-2, a lot of Texans fans are assuming that this is going to be a "get well" game for the Texans. Hell, Vegas has the Texans as a seven-point favorite, a pretty sporty number for an NFL game. (I wouldn't touch it, by the way.) And if the Texans players feel at all like the fans and the oddsmakers do, this will wind up being one of those games where they come out flat, can't move the ball and they allow an inferior team just enough big plays to hang around. 

And Tampa Bay is a team that has enough guys who can make those kind of plays — Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson at wide receiver, a healthy Doug Martin running the football, and a confident Jameis Winston coming off his first career win. Let's start there in what to watch for…

4. Jameis Winston's well-being
Before the season, in one of those little "get to know you" rookie vignettes on NFL.com, Jameis Winston was asked a number of quick hit questions, including "Which NFL player do you most look forward to playing against?" Here was Winston's answer...

I admire Winston's competitive nature. If you're worth what the team is paying you, you want to test yourself against the best. That said, Jameis, we are talking about a player (Watt) who used a rookie QB posting a selfie on Instagram three hours before the game as motivation last season, and J.J. damn near killed poor ol' Zach Mettenberger. Be careful, Jameis. Looking forward to playing football against J.J. Watt is like saying you're looking forward to going fly fishing during a tsunami.  

3. Texans running game
In the first week of the season, the Texans' running game accounted for 98 yards on 21 carries. On paper, an afternoon with 4.7 yards per carry sounds pretty sweet, but if you watched that game, you knew that stat was very misleading. The Texans' running game had almost no impact on that game, and on the one play where they needed a yard (4th and one), they got stuffed. In Week 2, the Texans ran for 63 yards on 21 carries (three yards a carry), and that was entirely indicative of the running game's impact. With an offensive line that feels like it's being named on Sunday morning using one of those random ping-pong ball hoppers, and running backs who are all basically the same guy in three different bodies, this thing is a mess right now. The Texans need Arian Foster back like American Idol needed Simon Cowell back. Randy Jackson sucked as designated "mean judge," and Alfred Blue sucks as designated "starting running back." Which reminds me….please, God, promise me….no more Alfred Blue. I don't need a running back whose first instinct is to stand behind the line of scrimmage and shuffle his feet like he's playing Dance, Dance Revolution. Oh, and since the running game sucks right now, this right here could become a problem as well….

2. DeAndre Hopkins got concussed…WHEN?!?!
So we're sitting there yesterday afternoon doing our radio show, and I have my Tweetdeck open, as usual, and out of nowhere, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle drops this little grenade on my timeline….

Oh, ya don't say?!? This needs to be the first question to Bill O'Brien today during the media session — "Um, Coach, WHEN EXACTLY DID DEANDRE HOPKINS GET CONCUSSED?!?!" He didn't come out of the game on Sunday, so he must have played through it, unless he got concussed going to McDonald's on his day off Tuesday. The follow-up question then should be "So Coach, you have an offensive line held together with duct tape, running backs who can't get a single extra yard on a play, a QB making his fourth career start, you're missing your best pass catching tight end, and now your best wide receiver has a concussion. How do you plan to stay out of 2nd and 13?"

1. Kevin Johnson Time
Johnathan Joseph was asked on Monday about his performance against Carolina, and he called  it "pretty decent." In other news, Johnathan Joseph also thinks that a "decent" evening involves eating six cans of sardines while binge-watching the second season of True Detective. Joseph stunk on Sunday. Horribly. Now with WR combos of Evans/Jackson, Jones/White and Hilton/Moncrief coming up these next three weeks, it may be time to move rookie first-round pick Kevin Johnson into a more prominent role on this defense. In the Panthers game, Joseph played 70 snaps and Johnson played 53. You may need to flip that around soon.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast.

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