Five Frivolous Facts with Fred: Whew!

In The Loop
November 05, 2018 - 9:16 am

Whew.

That’s the slogan for the season nine weeks in considering your Houston Texans continue to find creative ways to win football games following a 19-17 win over the Denver Broncos on the road. After an impressive opening drive, the Texans put together a clunker of an offensive performance but made enough plays when it mattered and once again, got a little help from the opposition thanks to Brandon McManus sending the potential game-winning field goal wide right as the game clock struck zeroes.

“This is a real tough place to win,” said Bill O’Brien after the game. “I’m very proud of our guys, we didn’t do everything right, but we didn’t turn the ball over, which was big.”

For as great as the Texans looked offensively in Week Eight against the Dolphins, they looked equally as deficient on offense for the majority of the game against the Broncos. The offensive line’s run-blocking was horrendous all day Sunday and both running backs – Blue and Miller – ran as if they were already on the Bye Week.

“We were inconsistent at times on offense,” said the Texans fifth-year head coach, “but I do think we need to do the best we can to establish a running game.”

It wasn’t pretty on the ground – not even a little bit – especially when your leading rusher paves the way with 39 yards – and that’s with a concerted effort to run the ball.

Enough with all that – let’s dive into Fred’s Five Frivolous Facts from Sunday’s Win.

 

  1. Sometimes it’s Better to be Lucky than Good

That’s what’s going on with the Texans right now – let’s not pretend it’s any different. Now make no mistake, the Texans have had their moments when they’ve outright won the game – the Jags and Dolphins games immediately come to mind. But in the other four wins – they were gifted questionable coaching decisions from Indy, Dallas and Denver… And then Buffalo just sucks. Either way, as we’ve heard from BoB time and time again – it’s hard to win in the National Football League – and guess what, the Texans have won six in a row against teams with a combined record of 19-31 during the streak. And while there are a significant chunk of critics who will point to the shoddy record of opponents during the streak – to put that in perspective – here is a breakdown of the records of the Top 4 teams in the AFC and their opponents’ record during their last six games:

New England – 6-0Opponent’s Record – 27-23-1

Kansas City – 5-1 Opponent’s Record – 22-28-1

Pittsburgh – 5-1Opponent’s Record – 22-27-1

San Diego – 5-1 Opponent’s Record – 20-29-1

It’s easy to call out “who the Texans have beaten?” during their win streak, but it’s not as though the other contending teams in the AFC have played a murder’s row during that same time. As usual, the Patriots continue to do Patriot type things, but short of the Chiefs and Pats playing each other and the Chargers losing to the Rams, there’s not a huge separation schedule-wise for the rest of the top teams in the AFC. As the saying goes, the guys on the other team get paid too.

  1. Kareem Jackson Might be The Real MVP

JJ Watt is a serious contender for both Comeback Player of the Year and Defensive MVP – with all due respect to Andre Hal on the Comeback Award. JJ added another sack in the win Sunday to give him nine for the year and he’s well on his way to another double-digit sack season and with seven games left – this guy might end up with 15-17 sacks before it’s all over, which would give him his fourth-best total ever – high praise given his last two years. Throw in JD Clowney on the other side with 5.5 sacks and this duo is doing even better than most expected. But No one, and I mean NO one, expected the kind of season Kareem Jackson is having. Never mind he’s playing both SAFETY AND CORNERBACK and excelling at both in 2018. He’s fourth on the team in tackles with 51 and has two interceptions to go along with two forced fumbles. You could argue he’s been more important that Honey Badger in the secondary because he’s stepped in at Cornerback in the wake of injuries to Jonathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin – and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s delivered plenty of big hits all year long and as usual, his durability is never in question. He’s great against the run and even better in the locker room. He was a steady hand during the team’s opening three-game slide out the gate – and not near enough has been made of that. Forget Pro Bowl, this dude is playing at an ALL-PRO level right now. Props to Kareem. He’s balling.

  1. About that Improved Run Game and O-Line Play

I didn’t think the O-Line pass blocked all that poorly Sunday against the Broncos – all things considered. Deshaun held on to the ball too long on two of the sacks, and that’s something he’s done all year. He was only hit four times though and that’s now the third week in a row where the O-Line has surrendered only five or fewer QB hits as opposed to Watson doubling as a human piñata the first six games of the season. Now, the running game? That’s a whole different story. Denver made a point to go all-in on stopping the run Sunday – and it worked. Lamar Miller was a non-factor and Alfred Blue looked like he was moving in quicksand. As a whole, the team carried the ball 33 times for 98 yards. That’s a far cry from the triple-digit numbers they amassed in the last few weeks and explained a lot as to why the Texans offense was non-existent for long stretches of the game. This team still has no real scat back and at this point, Alfred Blue is a slower version of Lamar Miller. Yikes. As hyped as we all are about D’Onta Foreman coming back, I’m not sure what the realistic expectations are at this point for the second year guy bouncing back from an Achilles injury. This O-Line isn’t the debacle that it was to start the year, but it’s going to have to be better if this offense wants to click coming out of the Bye.

  1. Demaryius will be a factor – but Will Anyone Else?

This is the part of the article where we lament Keke Coutee and how it’d be nice if he could ever actually make his way back onto the field. For the third straight week, there was no Keke and the Texans did what they could with Demaryius on that first drive before he was effectively left out of the gameplan – and wasn’t targeted again. I gotta believe there were other ways to have him worked into the game, but again, I’m not in the business, so who knows. Of course, DHop did his thing, leading the Texans with 10 catches on 12 targets for 105 yards and a score. After that? The passing game was non-existent. No other Texan had more than three targets and Jordan Thomas wasn’t targeted again after his seven-yard score to OPEN the game. I understand this gameplan was cobbled together with duct tape and safety wire, but come on, there has to be some way to get a tight end involved or someone on a quick slant. You have to believe Keke will be back after the bye and Demaryius will be more acclimated to the offense by then. But if BoB doesn’t find a way to either get the Tight Ends more involved or keep the #3 WR position from becoming an abyss WHEN Keke gets hurt again, this offense will fall far short against someone who can actually score.

  1. THANK GOODNESS FOR THE BYE WEEK

Let’s call it what it is – this Texans team isn’t great. But they’re not horrible either. Are they a Super Bowl team? At the moment? No. Would they have a puncher’s chance against the Top teams in the AFC? KC and NE? Not right now. But there is a lot of football left and this Bye week is coming at the PERFECT time. An away – and very winnable – game against the Redskins followed by three VERY WINNABLE games at HOME mean this team could be at 8 or 9 wins heading into the final stretch of the year. I’m done talking about the 0-3 start. This team was expected to be good – and they’re getting there. With seven games left, now it’s about getting healthy on defense and getting more out of this offense. Both are doable. See you in two weeks.