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21 observations: Texans defeat Browns

Posted Oct 16, 2017

The scoreboard showed a satisfying 33-17 victory for your Texans on Sunday against the winless Cleveland Browns, yet the final score didn’t tell the full story of this win.

The scoreboard showed a satisfying 33-17 victory for your Texans on Sunday against the winless Cleveland Browns, yet the final score didn’t tell the full story of this win. The Texans had control of the game for the most part throughout, jumping out to a 33-3 lead early in the second half and coasting, so to speak, the rest of the way. With the Rams win over Jacksonville later in the day, the Texans will get to the bye week in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South, no matter what happens on Monday Night Football.

1. I can’t tell you that I’ve ever seen a Texans inside linebacker cover a receiver or running back 30-40 yards down the field like Dylan Cole did on Sunday. If there’s one thing that’ll stick with me from this win, it’s the sight of him sticking in Duke Johnson’s hip pocket, then intercepting Kevin Hogan’s pass. Hopefully (fingers and toes crossed), his injury won’t sideline him long. He has turned into one of this team’s top defensive players in a short time.
2. Cole’s tackle for a loss on a screen pass was just as impressive on the Browns first drive of the game.

3. The Texans utilized a number of different combinations with their defensive front. There were multiple times when Brandon Dunn played over the nose, while D.J. Reader bumped out to defensive end to play the run. I liked the look of Reader at defensive end and Dunn is playing well, even though no one has recognized or mentioned it. Those two are going to be key, no question, for this run defense during the rest of the season.

4. A caller to the Texans postgame show wasn’t enamored with the Texans defensive line and I couldn’t disagree more. Reader was fantastic, finishing with five tackles, two TFLs, a sack and two quarterback hits.

5. Look, Kevin Hogan is no Tom Brady or even Alex Smith, but picking off three passes was the key to the win on Sunday. After some of the bad bounces that didn’t go the Texans way earlier in the season, especially in the loss to the Patriots, we’ll take those three picks and not apologize.

6. A hat tip to Johnathan Joseph who became the Texans’ all-time interception leader. His value to this organization is immeasurable, although his touchdown celebration left a little to be desired (winking eye emoji). He had the pick six and one right before the half, but he nearly had a third one on the Browns first drive of the game when he undercut receiver Bryce Treggs on the sideline. J-Joe finished with two interceptions, a pass breakup and an interception on only 47 plays.
7. Just a heads up, be on the look out for Winning Wardrobe later this week. It’s going to be styling, for sure.


8. We can talk all about Deshaun Watson throwing the football and his league leading 15 passing touchdowns. Yeah, NFL-LEADING 15 touchdowns. That said, his ability to make big plays in the run game keep drives alive. On the first drive of the game, he ran a quarterback sweep to the right side and linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. had both hands on him short of a first down. Watson powered through that tackle, though, as we have seen often this year, and picked up a first down to keep the first drive alive.
9. His best play, though, might have been his throwaway from the end zone when two Browns were tackling him for a sure safety. I mean, I was convinced it was a safety as I saw the Browns converge on him in the end zone. But, somehow, some way, he got rid of the ball to avoid that safety.

10. The Browns brought a ton of pressure on Watson throughout the game, including that near safety. Fortunately, he recognized it quickly and often got rid of the football, especially early in the game to tight end Ryan Griffin for big gains.
11. I want so badly for running back D’Onta Foreman to get in the end zone. Poor guy has gotten so close. I’m sure he’s thinking about how he could’ve gotten into the end zone on his long run in the first half. When he broke through the line, I know Jabrill Peppers was back there thinking how do I stop this runaway train? Actually, though, he played it perfectly, forcing Foreman to run to the sideline and not cut back on him. Regardless, Foreman’s big gain set up a Braxton Miller touchdown “reception” to give them a 24-3 lead.
12. He nearly broke out on another long run early in the game too. He started right and cut back over center Nick Martin and there was green grass ahead. As he cut back, he stepped on Martin’s leg and lost his balance. If he puts his foot in the ground and not on an ankle, he bursts into the secondary for another big gain.

13. Outside linebacker Lamarr Houston was itching to get on the field all day long. He stood near defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel throughout the game waiting for his number to be called. When he got the call, he was as jacked up as a three year old kid after a chocolate brownie and Red Bull. Now, I don’t advocate a three year old on Red Bull at all, but I can only imagine that a three year old on Red Bull would be bouncing off the walls like Houston was. Then, he went into the game and had a sack and forced a holding penalty in his nine plays on the field.

14. Man, the deep ball, the bomb, the long one, whatever you want to call it, is fun to watch. Watson throws a pretty parabola and Will Fuller V hauled in another deep catch on the right side of the North end zone. He could’ve had another one later in the game, but couldn’t hang on. Regardless, Fuller’s speed down the field is a major reason why this offense has now become so dangerous: it can hurt teams at every level and in multiple ways.

15. Cornerback Marcus Williams is one of the few players in NFL history to play against an opponent one week and then, for a different team, play against the same team the next week. His presence and development will be important as this team emerges from the bye week and heads into the final ten games of the season.

16. I’m guessing after seeing DeAndre Hopkins knock away a sure interception from Jason McCourty that he was one heck of a defensive back in high school. That was a potential game changing play that Hopkins made at that moment. Two drives later, the Texans took a 24-3 lead and this one was pretty much over. If McCourty held on to that interception and the Browns scored at the time, it would’ve been 16-10 and a WHOLE different ball game.

17. After a couple of tough weeks for Braxton, I was glad to see Braxton Miller get in the end zone to make it 22-3.

18. Then, the extra point got interesting. Kaimi Fairbairn knocked home the following extra point to make it 23-3, but Breian Boddy-Calhoun jumped offsides AND ran into Fairbairn, generating two penalties. Bill O’Brien decided to take one of the penalties and go for two, now with the ball at the one yard line. Deshaun Watson rolled right and found Ryan Griffin for the two point conversion and a 24-3 lead. I had the EXACT same situation happen in a college game that I called on Saturday night. Northwestern State took the point off the board, like the Texans, but, unlike the Texans, they missed the two point conversion and lost the game by four. It never really came into play on Sunday, but liked the aggressiveness of Bill O’Brien to get the two after Fairbairn had missed an extra point earlier.

19. I’m going to just keep it real on this one...I’m VERY thankful that Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is in the AFC North. That guy, wow, he’s going to be a handful and a half once he’s fully healthy.

20. The Texans had four sacks from four different guys. It was great to see guys like Kurtis Drummond and Ufomba Kamalu come up with sacks. Drummond timed up his blitz PERFECTLY and hammered Kevin Hogan for his sack, while Kamalu got his after safety Marcus Gilchrist forced Hogan out of the pocket and Kamalu cleaned up. On the next play, Kamalu got another hit on the quarterback. How many times was the word “opportunity” used last week with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus injured? I know I used it. Often. Kamalu and Drummond took advantage of the opportunity for sure.

21. Outside linebackers Kamalu and Brennan Scarlett had some solid moments playing opposite one another throughout the game. Scarlett had four tackles and nearly had a significant tackle for a loss on Isaiah Crowell. Kamalu had a sack, a tackle for a loss and the quarterback hit I referenced above.

Content on HoustonTexans.com does not necessarily represent the views of the Houston Texans front office staff, coaches or executives.

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