How Concerning Is Texans Offensive Sack Count?

Payne and Pendergast
October 01, 2019 - 12:26 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- With Deshaun Watson’s propensity to hold on to the football and extend plays for the Texans, he’s prone to get sacked.

The Texans shuffling at offensive line -- four different lines in as many games this season -- is also a challenge in establishing continuity up front.

Watson has been sacked 18 times in the first four games. That’s third in the NFL behind the abysmal Arizona Cardinals (20) and Cincinnati Bengals (19).

But the offensive line hasn’t been as bad as those numbers suggest. It’s the Texans pass protection as a whole that needs work. 

Only one of the six sacks given up by the Texans on Sunday was the offensive line’s fault, both head coach Bill O’Brien and retired lineman Wade Smith said. 

“I think the rest of the sacks were on different things. And so I think we’ve got to coach it better and execute better. We just need to prepare a little bit better. I know people don’t want to hear it. I don’t really care. But, we’re on the right track. We know what we’ve got to do to fix it.”

Shaq Thompson beat Greg Mancz, who was starting at right guard in place of the injured Zach Fulton, to get to Deshaun Watson. 

“That was a bad sack to give up, but he’ll be better than that,” Smith said Tuesday on Payne & Pendergast. “The rest of them was either Deshaun holding the ball too long or like a running back getting beat, or coverage sacks, things of that nature.

“If you’re a Texans fan and you’re looking at it, the amount of sacks they’re giving up, I don’t think that’s as important as one might think it is. I say that because with Deshaun Watson, you have to take the good with the bad. He’s going to take sacks that other quarterbacks might not take. You’ve got to continue to try to get better and improve on that, but he’s going to take those sacks.”

Smith compared the situation to the Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, who would convert third-and-long situations others couldn’t because of his ability to extend the play. 

“You don’t want to live in that world, but you have to understand giving up a sack isn’t as detrimental to this team with the amount of skill players they have and their ability to make big plays as it would be for like, a Gary Kubiak team back in 2010 or 2011, where we need to stay on schedule, we’re not giving up these sacks,” Smith said. 

“Giving up six sacks is not good at all. But in another situation, that would be detrimental to where that team doesn’t have a chance to win, as opposed to with Deshaun Watson at quarterback, he can overcome those things and make plays to counterbalance the amount of sacks they’re giving up.”

Seth Payne noted he’d like to see Watson take the easy five yards on first down when it’s there. It’s one thing if you take a sack on third-and-long, when you’re trying to push the ball downfield anyway, Payne said. It’s another thing to take a sack when it could have been second-and-five, but instead it’s second-and-fifteen.

“You’ve got to know when and where to take those chances,” Payne said.