So this past week, around Wednesday, when asked a question by ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli about previous 0-2 outfits he had coached, Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien went on a mini-tirade before Ganguli could even finish her question. He brought up his awareness of the percentage of 0-2 teams that historically made the playoffs (12 percent), said how little he cared about that, and exclaimed that he only cared about this team before saying "okay, thanks, bye" (or something to that effect).
On that same day, Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett had a media session that lasted about 58 seconds and contained roughly a dozen one word answers to a variety of question ranging from areas of improvement to whether or not he iced his arm down after the game. You know how good franchise quarterbacks answer questions thoughtfully and have a presidential feel? Well, this was the total opposite of that.
My point in bringing up O'Brien's and Mallett's prickly demeanors is that if the Texans had lost to the Buccaneers on Sunday, NRG Stadium was a tinder box that was ready to blow sky high. Fortunately, somewhere between Charlotte last Sunday and NRG yesterday, the Texans' offensive line found its balls, Alfred Blue found some patience, and the defense executed its finishing move of frazzling a young quarterback.
And in the end, with an ugly 19-9 victory, the Texans moved to 1-2 on the season, and into a four way first place tie with the entire AFC South. Yes, you read that right. In fact, let's start there this week…..
4. AFC South
The more we watch the Colts struggle, it appears this could be one of those divisions where 9-7 or even 8-8 is good enough to win it. The Texans did what they were expected to do Sunday, as did the Jags (smoked by the Tom Brady Express 51-17), and to a certain extent, so did the Colts and Titans, with the Colts getting their first win, 35-33, over Tennessee. All four teams sit at 1-2. If we were to ask which 1-2 team's fan base feels most excited about its prospects, it has to be Tennessee, who got another franchise QB performance from rookie Marcus Mariota on Sunday (367 yards passing). Whatever the case, the Texans can breathe for at least a week, until they travel to 3-0 Atlanta this weekend.
3. Oday Aboushi
The Texans' offensive line put together its most complete performance of the season so far, in no small part because the team started the game with a fivesome that were all playing their natural positions. This includes Aboushi's starting at left guard, a position where he started 10 games for the Jets last season. Aboushi has the distinction of being the third starting left guard for the Texans this season and the first one to actually, y'know, BE A REAL LEFT GUARD. (Tackles Jeff Adams and Derek Newton each started the first two games). That said, by the end of the game, after an injury to right guard Brandon Brooks, the Texans were playing a line that, left to right, went Clark-Aboushi-Jones-Newton-Lamm…and they still ran it down the Bucs throats for nearly seven minutes to close out the game. Game ball to offensive line coach Mike Devlin.
2. Alfred Blue
The biggest beneficiary of the Texans' revamped and revived offensive line play was Blue, who went from being a shuffle-foot mess in the first two games to being a decisive, hard nosed bull on Sunday, rushing 31 times for 139 yards and a huge touchdown to extend the lead from one point to seven points in the fourth quarter. Arian Foster still can't get back soon enough, and I think the biggest takeaway on Sunday was "If Alfred Blue found enough daylight for 139 yards, imagine how many yards Foster would have had!"
1. Johnathan Joseph
In his four-plus years as a Texan, I can't think of a week when we dwelled on a negative performance by Joseph more than last Sunday's stinker against Carolina, in which Joseph gave up what wound up being the winning touchdown on a deep ball, and in which he garnered a team worst -3.7 on Pro Football Focus. We talked openly about rookie Kevin Johnson taking some of J-Jo's snaps this week. Well, the former Pro Bowler responded with his best game since the Texans were winning AFC South titles, with five passes broken up and five tackles before leaving with a head injury in the fourth quarter. Joseph clarified after the game that he would not be put into the concussion protocol this week, and should play next week against Atlanta. The Texans will need another performance like yesterday's when they take on Julio Jones and Roddy White.
I don't think either kicker is going to enjoy film study much this week. Tampa Bay's Kyle Brindza had one of the weirdest games I can remember, nailing a 58 harder with a ton of room to spare in the first quarter, and then missing three field goals and an extra point. He went from a scary weapon to possibly cut within a couple hours. Randy Bullock just needs to get his shit together. He hit the upright on a field goal attempt and after becoming the first ever kicker to miss a PAT from the new distance in Week 1, he became the first to miss two in his career from the new distance in the fourth quarter. Bullock's issues are a microcosm of the larger issues with….
3. Texans special teams
Punt returns averaging three yards a return, a near catastrophic fumble by Chandler Worthy, punt coverage giving up more long yardage, holding penalty on Kevin Johnson, unsportsmanlike conduct on Akeem Dent, Jumal Rolle mis-fielding a Lechler punt inside the Bucs' five yard line….special teams is a fucking mess. The Texans still have not started a possession in opposing territory yet this season. Not one. This team is not built to overcome that.
2. Miko Grimes
Not sure what exactly caused the arrest in this video, but that's Miko Grimes, the bat shit crazy wife of Dolphins CB Brent Grimes...
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Reportedly, she crossed a police barricade before the game and was arrested, according to Miami-Dade County police, for battery on a police officer and resisting arrest with violence.
1. Andre Johnson
One target, zero catches on Sunday. Andre Johnson now has seven catches for 51 yards in three games. He's on pace for 37 catches. Turns out O'Brien may have been generous when he said Andre would have 40 catches this season.
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