When the NFL released the 2020 regular season schedule back in May of this year, there were two reactions in Houston. The first one was the same reaction as the rest of the cities in the NFL — man, I sure hope the COVID pandemic doesn't mess this up. Then there was the second one, specific to Houston, where fans of the Texans said "Um, is the NFL trying to punish us? What's up with these first two games?"
The consensus is that the Texans have spent the first two weeks of the 2020 season facing off with the two best teams in the AFC, if not the NFL altogether, in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens. So the Texans' being 0-2 to start the season is not a major surprise.
To that point, there was a way for the Texans to go 0-2 to start the season and still invoke hope with their fans. Keep the games, close, lose a couple dogfights where you're trading blows with the Chiefs or Ravens, but lose out late in the game. You can live with that. Instead, what we've gotten is two completely uninspired, mistake-laden dumpster fires where the Texans look barely interested for big chunks of the game.
The Ravens beat the Texans 33-16 on Sunday afternoon, in a game played in front of exactly zero paying fans in NRG Stadium. The Texans are now 0-2 and travel to Pittsburgh to face the 2-0 Steelers next Sunday. In fact, the Texans' first seven opponents have a combined record of 11-3 two weeks into the season. Good times, eh? Let's dive into yesterday's debacle a little further. Here are winners and losers from Sunday's Texans loss....
4. Lamar Jackson, the passer
Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver actually came up with a very good game plan to contain Jackson in the run game. The reigning league MVP broke off a couple nice runs, mostly while in scramble mode, but what the Texans couldn't contain was Jackson's arm, as he was spraying the ball everywhere, finding open receivers in key situations. Jackson finished 18 of 24 for a very efficient 204 yards, a fine follow up to his 275 yard performance in Week 1 against Cleveland.
3. Kicker fantasy owners
Generally speaking, for a game with 47 points scored, there wasn't much to write home about in the way of big statistical performances. The Ravens were pretty balanced in who touched the ball throughout the course of the afternoon, and other than 95 yards from Brandin Cooks through the air, the Texans were lacking heavily in big performances. However, both kickers lit up the inside of NRG Stadium, with Justin Tucker and Ka'imi Fairbairn combining for seven field goals.
2. Eric DeCosta
For Texan fans unfamiliar with DeCosta, he is the Baltimore Ravens general manager. You see, Texan fans, MOST NFL teams have two different people serving the head coach and general manager functions, and it works pretty well. In Baltimore, it works AMAZINGLY well. Just look around at the Ravens' roster and it's full of middle round picks that have become Pro Bowlers — tight end Mark Andrews, right tackle Orlando Brown — and shrewd deals like Calais Campbell, who was picked up for a mere fifth round pick. Even Jackson, the reigning MVP, was the fifth QB taken in his draft class, with the 32nd overall pick. What great culture and tradition of roster building in Baltimore.
1. J.J. Watt
It was good to see Watt have one of those games where he posted a bunch of crooked numbers in the box score, with a couple sacks, a couple tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits. Those numbers really weren't much consolation for Watt, who after the game seemed to be equal parts despondent and angry. At age 31, there may be a realization with Watt that he is burning what's left of his career daylight with a head coach who has no idea how to get this team to the next level. Hell, right now that head coach has them two or three levels below where they'd previously settled in.
4. Ross Blacklock
Oh, then there was this. Rookie defensive lineman Ross Blacklock was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter. Watt was pretty salty about that, too....
J.J. Watt on Ross Blacklock's ejection: "Stupid. Selfish. It was a stupid play. It was selfish. I've spoken to Ross before ... it pisses me off. It's a selfish move, late in the game ... it's dumb. Very dumb to hurt your team in that type of setting for no reason." pic.twitter.com/LSH3HtBJE5— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 21, 2020
Yikes. There aren't enough donuts in the city of Houston for how much rookie "donut purchase" penance Blacklock is going to be paying for the rest of the year.
3. Will Fuller
After the first week of the season, when he had eight catches for 112 yards against the Chiefs, there had been conjecture that Fuller was the new No. 1 wide receiver with DeAndre Hopkins now in Arizona. However, Fuller followed up his big Week 1 performance with a complete goose egg in Week 2. He wasn't even targeted one time throughout the afternoon, and in a tradition like no other, Fuller was being treated at one point for a leg injury. Brutal.
2. Deshaun Watson on opening drives
Speaking of brutal, how about this for some numbers? Did you know that since the beginning of 2018, Deshaun Watson has started 33 regular season games, and in those 33 regular season games, he had engineered exactly ONE touchdown drive in the Texans' opening drive of the game? On top of that, in the 32 drives in which they didn't score a touchdown (19 of which needed in punts), the Texans are averaging a little over 3.2 yards per play. For some context, the WORST team in football in 2019 in the YPP stat over the course of entire games over an entire season, was the New York Jets at 4.6 yards per play. So the Texans, on opening drives over the last two-plus seasons, have an offense that is basically 33 percent worse than the worst offense in football.
1. Bill O'Brien
Who else? His team lacks urgency, his offense looks disjointed and discombobulated, and his defense looks lacking in top tier talent (outside of Watt). Oh, did I mention that DeAndre Hopkins had eight more catches today, and a touchdown?
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