One day, maybe next week, the Houston Texans will play a game that doesn’t come down to the final two minutes, or in the case of several recent games, the final seconds. For now, Sunday’s 24-21 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars was the epitome of who this team is.
They make enough mistakes to allow their opponent to hang around or lead for most of the afternoon, as Jacksonville did, and then whether they win or lose often depends on CJ Stroud’s ability to thread his Superman cape and off. win a game. On Sunday, Superman was good, but when the Texans needed heroics the most, the best Stroud could do, given miserable offensive line play in front of him, was a 58-yard field goal attempt to Matt Ammendola to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining
CLANK, it bounced off the crossbar. Final score, Jags 24, Texans 21.
A win would have put the Texans in first place in the division this deep into the season for the first time since 2019. Instead, with the loss, they find themselves tied for second place in the division with the Colts 6 -5, who actually own the tiebreaker against the Texans thanks to their Week 2 win at NRG Stadium. On the one hand, it’s fun to see the Texans play relevant football. On the other hand, we have the impression that an opportunity was missed on Sunday.
Let’s move on to the winners and losers, shall we?
4. CJ Stroud
Stroud was excellent once again, completing 26 of 36 pass attempts for 304 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 47 yards and a rushing touchdown. What stood out for Stroud on Sunday was a clean turnover sheet, after six turnovers in the last two games, and the fact that he was on the run for what seemed like the majority of his 36 attempts passes. The protection was very weak and the rush attack was even worse. Number 7 ALWAYS gives the Texans a chance.
3. Pat McAfee Show
If you missed it last week due to the holidays, JJ Watt’s possible return to the Houston Texans was a popular topic. I have no idea how VALID this topic is, but these three minutes of video from Pat McAfee Show Wednesday got a LOT of traction:
Pat McAfee single-handedly keeps the “JJ Watt signs with the Texans” narrative going and I’m here for it. As someone frustrated that they didn’t sign a one-day contract to retire a Texan, this is the next best thing. pic.twitter.com/h08WaSDoCD
–James Roy (@n1texansfan) November 22, 2023
Three things here. First, Watt never really gives a straight “NO” in this video. Second, when asked about it last week, DeMeco Ryans didn’t shut it down. Third, Pat McAfee is going to play hard every week until Watt gives a definitive answer. (NOTE: Watt is a weekly guest on the McAfee show.) If I were betting, I’d bet that Watt remains retired, but this is worth watching for at least two more weeks.
2. Nico Collins
Collins had a solid year, leading the Texans in receptions and receiving yards on Sunday, but it had been a few months since he had a 100-yard receiving game. On Sunday, he was back in the 100-yard column, with seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown to cut the Jaguars’ late lead to 24-21. Collins was back to his old tricks from earlier in the season, cutting the Jags defense on an angle and sitting in the weak spots of their zone defense. Good to see.
1. Defensive players in the 2022 draft class
For a while this season, it seemed like Nick Caserio’s 2022 draft class was slipping into the canvas, particularly on defense, where first-round pick Derek Stingley was (again) on injured reserve, and pick second-round pick Jalen Pitre and third-round pick Christian Harris. were in difficulty. Things have changed dramatically for Stingley, who has two interceptions since returning three games ago, and Harris, who has been one of the team’s best defensive players since Week 9. Pitre performed well Sunday with nine tackles and no glaring breakdowns in coverage. . This was a great development for 2023, as well as for the next three seasons.
4. Defend explosive plays
One of the main reasons, besides poor officiating, that the Texans lost on Sunday was massive defensive breakdowns on defense, which resulted in four plays of at least 42 yards through the air, against four different players. Three of the four plays led directly to field goals, and the fourth gave the Jags a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line with two seconds left in the half. Fortunately, the Texans stopped Travis Etienne on a throw to the right to keep their deficit at 13-7, at the time, but Trevor Lawrence had more than half (186 yards) of his 364 yards on those four plays. This is unacceptable.
3. National anthem on solo guitar
Before the game, like any sporting event, the Houston Texans had someone perform the national anthem. It’s standard fare, except this particular artist wasn’t a singer. Instead, they used an electric guitarist to play a musical-only version of the anthem. I do not like it ! I need words. Of all the different passages of the national anthem, the “solo guitar version” is my latest favorite. But I still love our country. A lot.
2. Matt Ammendola
I’m not putting Ammendola here because he made a potential 58-yard field goal, tying the field goal off the crossbar. 58 yards is a long distance, even for good, seasoned kickers. I’m putting Ammendola here simply because he’s incredibly fragile as a place kicker. Against the Bengals two weeks ago, his field goals barely slipped through the uprights. Last week he missed a field goal. On Sunday, he missed another field goal and slipped an extra point inside the upright by just a few inches. If my name is Nick Caserio, I’m bringing some kickers on Tuesday to try them out. Ultimately, the decision might be to stick with Ammendola, but he’s too fragile to ignore every free agent on the street.
1. Texans offensive line
Well, it was really enjoyable while it lasted. Remember those 100+ yard rushing performances from Devin Singletary over the past two weeks, where we were hoping the Texans were finally getting their blocking schemes going. Well, it turns out the Texans were able to run the football against Cincinnati and Arizona because those teams suck at defending the run. The Jaguars are good at defending the run, and so, you get Singletary and Dameon Pierce combining for 32 rushing yards on 11 carries. Just like old times, and not in a good way.
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