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One of the Unbeatens (The Quarterly Texan Report – 2nd Quarter)

Deshaun Watson for MVP?

There are only three unbeaten teams left in PML and they are all in the AFC conference. The Los Angeles Chargers, the New England Patriots, and the Houston Texans are the last three unbeaten teams. The Texans are 8-0 through 9 weeks of football. Their opponents have a combined record of 24-36 but their next four opponents have a combined record of 22-7. The next month of football for the Texans will be their toughest test yet. Through the first 9 weeks, the Texan’s offense has been absolutely lighting up the scoreboard. They rank (per Daddyleagues) 4th in points per game (43), 3rd in yards per game (442.8), 4th in passing yards per game (333.6), and 13th in rushing yards per game. The Texan’s offense has had to light up the scoreboard because their defense has been just atrocious midway through the season. The Texan’s defense ranks 14th in total points against (30), 28th in total yards against (421.1), 28th in passing yards against (300.3), and 22nd in rushing yards against (120.9). The Texans had their bye week in week 8 and during it, coach Bull made some adjustments but this defense may need a total overhaul in the offseason if they cannot improve, nonetheless, lets see how the Texans were able to get to 8-0 this far into the season.  

A Merciless Victory..

The Texans faced off against their first divisional opponent in week 5. The Jacksonville Jaguars came to town hoping to knock off the Texans and pull off quite the upset. Despite giving their best efforts, the Jaguars never really found traction in this game and lost 30-17. The Jaguars game plan to keep the Texan offense off of the field was a smart decision in theory, but they were unable to execute it. Deshaun Watson found Will Fuller early on for a touchdown that set the tone of the game. The Texans were so in control of this game that Duke Johnson saw the most amount of carries that he has had all season long. Johnson carried the ball 21 times for 72 yards. He was bottled up in this game but most of his runs came with the intent on draining the clock and securing the victory. 

The Texan’s slot corner Keion Crossen had the best game of his career. He was a thorn in Kaepernick’s side all day long. He had three solo tackles, one interception, one sack, and one forced fumble. The Texan’s defense had their best game yet holding the Jaguars to just 17 points and sacking Kaepernick 6 times, which was the most sacks that they’ve recorded in one game all season long. Their defense will have its work cut out next week when they face off against Derrick Henry and the Titans. 

Battle For the Division…

Derrick Henry has rushed for an average of 143 yards per game through the first five weeks of the season. He has also averaged at least one touchdown in each of those games. The Houston Texan’s defense held Henry to 76 yards on 22 attempts. Henry did add three touchdowns on the ground, but holding Henry to a season low 3.5 yards per carry is something to boast about for this defense. The Titans leaned heavily on Tannehill, he three for a season high of 29 attempts. Tannehill never looked comfortable dropping back into the pocket, he threw four interceptions and zero touchdowns. The Texans were the more efficient team in this game and they came away with a 38-21 victory and sit atop the AFC South. 

A week removed from having the best game of his career, corner Keion Crossen was able to surpass that stat line. Crossen intercepted Tannehill three times in this game. He had the ability to roam across the middle throughout the game and came away with two interceptions by baiting Tannehill into underneath passes. Crossen is on the last year of his deal and despite the Texan’s lack of cap space, they are going to want to keep this young corner on the team for the cycle. 

The Texans are up against a winless Packers team next week in a game that oddsmakers are giving the Packers no chance at winning. The Packers haven’t been able to find themselves and are struggling at the quarterback position. Aaron Rodgers is having the worst season in his career and many are saying that it’s because the Packer’s drafted Jordan Love. The Texans are hoping that Rodgers continues his streak of bad luck against them. 

The Game That Never Ends..

The Packers vs Texans game lasted for hours.. in what fans were calling as unorganized and completely exhausting to sit through. The power went out in NRG stadium twice with both teams having the lead in one game and the other. The third game was smooth right from the start but their was a much different feeling to the game. The Packers started quarterback Jordan Love in the first two games. Love was pinpoint accurate in the first game and had a few mistakes in the second game. In the third game, Aaron Rodgers was the starter. The Packers head coach didn’t report a reason for the change in the third game. The Texans jumped out in front of the Packers and never looked back. The turnovers piled up for the Packers as they have all season long and the Texans cruised to a 52-21 victory. 

The Texans were able to jump out in front and carry the momentum in the game thanks to a Zach Cunningham strip fumble and recovery. The box score gave the strip to corner Gareon Conley, but the replay clearly shows Cunningham ripping the ball from the hands of Aaron Jones. In the first four weeks of the season, the Texans defense was letting up nearly 40 points per game, however, in the past three weeks, they have averaged only 20 points against per game. The Texans have also become more balanced after being able to get ahead in their games and this game was no different. 

Duke Johnson racked up 172 yards on 17 carries. He had his best game carrying the ball. The running lanes opened up even more so in the fourth quarter. The Packer defenders were lackadaisical and seemed to have their feet stuck in the mud. Johnson broke arm tackle after arm tackle and refused to go down. The Texans head into their bye week at 7-0. Coach Bull has made improvements to his defense, but he’s not satisfied just yet with how they’ve played through 7 weeks. There are also trade rumours circling the Texan locker room. Don’t be surprised to see a few names leave the team due to concerns about their salary cap and those players not getting enough playing time

Bye Week: Trades and Adjustments on Defense –

The Houston Texans traded away wide receiver Kenny Stills to the Washington Football Team for a 3rd round pick. Stills was the Texan’s primary slot wide receiver but so far into the season, he was their least targeted starting receiver. Stills also needed to be re-signed at the end of the season and since the Texans don’t have a lot of cap space to finagle with, they wanted to receive some sort of compensation for Stills instead of letting him walk into free agency. 2nd year receiver KeKe Coutee is expected to take the slot receiver role in place of Stills moving further. Coutee is a young receiver that won’t see a lot of targets, but if he can get open, then Deshaun Watson will find him. 

The Texans pulled off another trade just before the deadline hit. The Texan’s first trade of the season helped them with relieving cap space and adding draft capital. They are without a first or second round pick, but now possess two 3rds and two 4ths. The Texans traded WR Coutee and CB Vernon Hargraves to the Philadelphia Eagles for WR Marquise Goodwin. This trade adds more speed to an already explosive offense. Goodwin is a former track star and will start in the slot/be moved out wide on a play by play basis. Goodwin is currently on a one year deal, but his age and regression will play a factor into whether or not the Texan’s will resign him. The assumption is that as long as Goodwin is able to maintain his speed, he will get an offer in the off-season. 

The Texans are coming out of the bye week and into week 9 rested and without any injuries. They believe they have a new scheme on defense that will help contain their future opponents passing attack and limit the amount of yards that has been put up on them in the past. The Texans are going to continue to find ways to air the ball out but they also want to keep Duke Johnson in a rhythm, so expect to see his carry count in the high teens moving forward. 

The High Flying Spectacle…

The Texans continued to stay hot coming off their bye week as they steamrolled the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 62-35 victory. The Texans set single season records for their team on offense this week in points scored and in passing touchdowns. The Jaguars defensive game plan consisted of keeping the underneath throws in front of them. They ran a lot of cover 2 which left the sidelines and deep middle of the field wide open. Deshaun Watson routinely found his receivers deep down the field after they scorched their man. He found five different receivers for a total of 7 touchdowns. Marquise Goodwin made a splash as well when he scored his first touchdown as a Texan. 

Deshaun Watson found Goodwin in the back of the endzone for a tip toe catch. Goodwin had 3 catches for 91 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a Texan. He would have had another touchdown but he was chased down and tackled by his shoe strings after making a beautiful grab deep across the middle of the field. Goodwin is going to make an impact moving forward in the Texan’s offense. They now have three receivers that can beat a defense deep at any spot on the field. The speed of the Texan receivers should open up more running lanes due to opposing defenses’ lack of desire to stack the box and risk getting beat deep.

The Texan’s are up against a Cleveland Browns team next week that loves to pound the ball down your throat. Coach Bull stated after the Jaguar’s game that Nick Chubb is a heck of a back and they’re going to approach stopping him just like they did against Derrick Henry. This is a matchup that we could see again come January, but the Texans are going to want to get out in front and force the Browns and Baker Mayfield to throw the ball. The Texans will also be without star LT Laremy Tunsil. He was sideline with an injury that will keep him out of action for the next three games. In his absence, rookie LT Charlie Heck will get the start. Coach Bull has mentioned giving Heck help when matched up with any elite pass rushers.

Top Offensive Contributors –

QB Deshaun Watson – 169/230 2,752 yards, 34 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 129 QBR.  

HB Duke Johnson – 129 attempts for 750 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. 42 catches and 381 yards,   

WR Will Fuller – 47 receptions for 1022 yards and 16 touchdowns.   

Top Defensive Contributors – 

FS Justin Reid – 36 solo tackles, 4 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. 

CB Keion Crossen – 23 solo tackles, 4 sacks, and 5 interceptions.

LB Whitney Mercilus – 14 solo tackles and 5 sacks 

Players of the Quarter – 

The Texan’s had three players who have progressed a lot and shown true leadership this past quarter. The nominations for player of the quarter were for QB Deshaun Watson, CB Keion Crossen, and LB Whitney Mercilus.

Deshaun Watson has been immaculate with protecting the ball since week one when he had a barrage of turnovers. He has thrown 19 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions in the past month. His awareness and protection of the ball has catapulted this Texan offense into one of the league’s best. Keion Crossen leads the team in interceptions after not coming away with any in the first month of the season. He has developed into a gadget corner that the Texans can use anywhere on the field. Whitney Mercilus is one of the oldest players on the roster but he leads the team in sacks. J.J Watt is being double teamed on almost every play and Whitney has taken advantage of his one on one matchups. The player of the quarter is typically only one, but these three players have grown and flourished under coach Bull, it was too difficult not to recognize all of them. 

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