The Clock Strikes Midnight (The Quarterly Texan Report – 3rd Quarter)

The Texan Defense Looking Absolutely Helpless.

Week 9 Players of the Week – 

AFC Offense – QB Deshaun Watson: 18-21, 513 Pass Yards, & Pass touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. 

AFC Defense – SS Damarious Randall: 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. 

The Texans 8-0 start was one that many critics didn’t believe was possible when the schedule came out early this year. The Texans drafted Damarious Randall in the PML free agency draft before the season started and he has come on strong midway through the season. He had his best game yet against the Jaguars and was rewarded for it. Randall is asking the team for a three year extension on his current one year contract, but the Texan’s GM wants to see more out of Randall before thinking about signing him long term. 

The Texan’s Cinderella story as one of the unbeaten teams has come to an end. The team started 9-0, adding a victory over the Browns in this quarter but suffered their first loss the following week against the Patriots. The Texans then lost two very close games that came down to the wire and are sitting at 9-3 and atop the AFC South, for now. The Texans are on a three game losing streak that has fans and critics questioning if this team even has what it takes to finish out the year and remain atop their division. 

A Game Almost Given Away…

The 8-0 Texans came into FirstEnergy Stadium ready to attack and set the tone on offense for the game. The first quarter of the game was very quiet with neither team scoring, but the Brown’s offense put up the first points of the game. Baker Mayfield delivered a strike to Jarvis Landry for an 82 yard touchdown, but despite the first score, it would be Cleveland’s only points of the first half. 

The mobility of Deshaun Watson made a big difference in this game. On 3rd and 20, a composed Deshaun Watson dropped back in the pocket with hopes of hitting one of his speed receivers on a deep streak. After his intital drop back, the Browns had pressure in his face. Two Cleveland defenders barreled down but Watson was able to side step a diving Myles Garrett and run to the right side of the field to convert the 3rd and long. This conversion ultimately ended in a scoring drive for the Texans.

The Texans countered that touchdown with a strike of their own when Will Fuller took the Jet Sweep into the end zone for a one yard touchdown. The Texan’s defense stiffened up in the second quarter. They didn’t allow the Browns into the red zone and forced a few turnovers. A Duke Johnson two yard touchdown and a Deshaun Watson to Will Fuller 38 yard yard touchdown gave the Texans a 21-7 lead going into halftime. The Texans were very precise with their drives in the first half, but their second half play was sloppy enough to allow the Browns back into the game.

The Texans received the ball coming out of halftime and drove the length of the field. Deshaun Watson made a very poor read and Denzel Ward intercepted his pass and ran it back for a touchdown. The Browns scored 21 points with their last score coming with three minutes left in the game, but it just wasn’t enough to propel them into the lead. The Texans won 35-28 despite Deshaun Watson’s worse game since week 1 of the season. He threw for four touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. The Texan’s defense picked off Baker Mayfield four times, but with the Patriots on the schedule next week, Deshaun Watson will have to forget his woeful statistical performance and move on to the next. 

Gashed on the Ground.. 

The Patriots and the Texans head into week 10 undefeated. This thrilling match up was raved about by several media outlets and analysts. Former football player and current sports broadcaster, Ross Tucker, was quoted saying that he couldn’t wait for this “Clash of the Titans.” Mark Schlereth, former prop player and current sports broadcaster stated that he thought Will Fuller was going to break the record for most receiving touchdowns in a season this week against the Patriots. Former Co-Host of ESPN, Trey Wingo, stated that you can count on the Patriots beating the Texans this week. Despite the mixed takes on who will win this match-up, both teams will be fighting until the end. 

The Patriots and the Texans have explosive offenses that can stretch the field on any down. The Patriots caught the Texan defense in a base cover 3 and Cam Newton found his favourite receiver Damiere Byrd on a deep streak from the slot for a 88 yard touchdown. Deshaun Watson countered the Patriot’s score with a deep streak to Will Fuller up the right sideline for a touchdown. The Patriots and the Texans exchanged scores the entire first half, but the Patriots led 28-24 heading into halftime. Despite a strong offensive attack in the first half, the Texans were only able to muster three points in the second half and ended up losing 45-27. The Texan’s defense which has been highly scrutinized all season long was once again the face of the conversation in this game.

Bradley Roby was able to step in front of a Cam Newton cross body throw, but aside from this one interception, the Texan’s defense was helpless against the Patriot’s offense attack. Philip Lindsay ran circles around the Texan’s front seven for four touchdowns and 196 yards on just 16 carries. Lindsay’s quickness proved too much even though on a few plays several Texan defenders had beaten their block but were unable to reach out and tackle Lindsay as he shifted by them. The Patriots had all the momentum in the second half, but late in the third quarter, Zach Cunningham laid a huge hit and forced a fumble, but the Patriot’s were able to recover. If the Texan’s would have recovered the ball, they would have been on the Patriot’s side of the field only down 10 points and right back in the thick of things.

This loss has Coach Bull re-evaluating his defense and if he should approach future games with a stronger attack in the running game. The Texan’s face off against the Detroit Lions next week. The Lions have one of the best passing attacks in the league, so the Texan’s will have to be prepared to slow Matthew Stafford down.

A Whole New Game…

The Houston Texan’s are proving to be a first half team but unable to finish the game on top. What does this say about the Texans? It tells us that their offensive attack is very explosive, but that they are unable to sustain that attack for four quarters. They have a bend but don’t break defense that allows a lot of yards to opposing offenses but they have been able to hold opposing offenses to field goals in the red zone, especially in the first two quarters. The Texan’s held the Lions to two field goals in the first half and both were in the red zone. The Texan’s leaned on their passing attack and led 14-13 heading into halftime. Deshaun Watson found Will Fuller and Marquise Goodwin for scores. The second half of this game was like night and day for the Texans.

The Detroit Lions came into this game with one of the league’s worst rushing attacks in both yards per game and attempts per game. The Lion’s used their short passing attack to Deandre Swift as a supplement to running the ball. They had a different approach in this game. The Texan’s came out of halftime wanting to extend the lead, but Deshaun Watson got a bit too greedy. He tried to thread the needle across the middle to Duke Johnson on an angle route and linebacker Jamie Collins picked the ball off and returned it for 6 points. This interception really bogged down the Texan’s offense and swung the momentum towards the Lion’s offense. The Lion’s put up 18 points in the third quarter and attempted to run out the rest of the game.

The fourth quarter sparked a fire for the entire Texan’s team. The offense marched down the field and kicked a field goal with 8 minutes left. A defensive stop led to Deshaun Watson finding Marquise Goodwin for a 19 yard touchdown with 5 minutes left in the game. Coach Bull came out with very aggressive play calls and blitzed heavily in the fourth quarter. This approach led to a Matthew Stafford interception by Justin Reid, who was then able to run the pick back for a touchdown tying the ballgame. A very composed Matthew Stafford marched his team down the field and with just 15 seconds left in the game, Matt Prater kicked the game winning field goal and the Lions won 34-31. The Texan’s dropped back to back games and are on a losing streak for the first time this season.

The Texans were able to recover from their third quarter mistakes, but ultimately the defense was unable to make a stop when they needed them to. The Texan’s defense has to step up next week against the Colts. The Colts have one of the best rushing attacks in the league and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has been a monster this season. The Texan’s struggle against the big play but will have to focus on mistake free football and keeping Jonathan Taylor behind the line of scrimmage. 

A Fumbled Opportunity…

There has been an awful trend with the Texan’s the past three games and it has led to a three game losing streak. The Texan’s struggled to stop the Colt’s rushing attack and were unable to play mistake free football. Deshaun Watson threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball in the most inopportune moment. The Colts had just taken the lead and the Texan’s needed to drive down the field. Deshaun Watson dropped back and missed his tight end wide open on a post route. Watson instead thought he saw an open rushing lane to the left of the offensive line, but as soon as he broke for the opening, the Colt’s defensive end came around the offensive line and brought Watson down. Watson came down awkwardly and coughed up the ball. There were more Texans around the wobbling ball, but the only Colt defensive player near was able to pick it up. The Texan’s dropped their third game in a row losing 34-31 to the Colts.

The Texan’s defense was unable to force any turnovers in this game and that made all the difference. The Colts had three turnovers and four sacks on Deshaun Watson. The Texan’s had a very promising 9-0 start to the season. In their first 9 games, five of those games were within one score. The Texans showed that they had the ability to come up big in the clutch, but with dropping two close games back to back, you have to question if this team has that ability anymore. This has been their worst quarter of the season, but with such an impressive start to the season, it is very hard to imagine that this team will miss the playoffs. They have a three game lead on the final wildcard spot and can secure a playoff berth with two more wins this season.

Top Offensive Contributors –

QB Deshaun Watson – 256/361 4,100 yards, 46 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, and a 121.4 QBR.

HB Duke Johnson – 183 attempts for 985 yards and 8 touchdowns. 70 catches for 668 yards. 

WR Will Fuller – 67 receptions for 1,481 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Top Defensive Contributors – 

FS Justin Reid – 59 solo tackles, 6 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns.

CB Keion Crossen – 34 solo tackles, 7 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.

LB Whitney Mercilus – 18 solo tackles and 6 sacks.

Players of the Quarter – 

Corner Keion Crossen has made a huge impact on the Texan’s defense. He is their primary nickel corner and very rarely plays all three downs and has never played in any base formation. Despite Crossen not being on the field for the entire game, he leads the Texans in interceptions, sacks, and is tied with a few other players for the most forced fumbles on the team. Crossen’s speed is his most dangerous attribute. He is able to fly from sideline to sideline in an instant. His range gives him the ability to cover multiple receivers on the fly. Crossen is currently atop the considerations for defensive player of the year in the AFC. The Texans will need him to make big plays and force turnovers down the stretch in order to make a deep run in the playoffs.