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Bill O'Brien's 5 Reasons for Optimism

Posted Aug 10, 2014

Head coach Bill O'Brien wasn't happy with the loss to Arizona, but still found some bright spots.

A day after getting whitewashed 32-0 by Arizona, Bill O'Brien maintained that the outcome was unacceptable. The Texans head coach saw a lot of negatives on film in the form of penalties, turnovers, and third down defense, to name a few.

But he also was able to glean a few positives from the evening.

"The sun, I believe rose today," O'Brien joked on Sunday. "We didn’t play well and believe me, I understand the questions. Sure, people out there are disappointed in what they saw last night, but we’re working hard to fix it and we’re going to continue to work hard to get these guys on the same page with us and go out there and win some games.”

With that in mind, here are 5 reasons for optimism, according to O'Brien.

1. The two-minute offense- The final drive of the first half was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and company's best, until it's final play.

Fitzpatrick and the offense took over at the Texans' 16-yard line, with 1:15 remaining before the intermission. A deep attempt up the left sideline for Keshawn Martin fell incomplete, but he was able to hit Mike Thomas on second down for a 24-yard gain. After a quick timeout call, Fitzpatrick went back to Thomas for 12 more yards over the middle, and then he scrambled for 23 yards on the next play.

Fitzpatrick threw at Alfred Blue incomplete on first down, hit Thomas again on second down for three yards, and called another timeout. 17 seconds were left in the half, and Houston was on the Arizona 22-yard line.

Fitzpatrick tried to go back to Thomas but was intercepted, and the Texans went into the locker room down 20-0.

"We were driving the ball well there," O'Brien said. "It was a good moment of situational football until, obviously, we threw the interception, which we can’t do that, but I thought there were some positive things."

2. J.J. Watt- The defensive end started, but didn't play much. He did, however, pick up a sack on the game's second play from scrimmage. He dropped Carson Palmer for a seven-yard loss.

"I think at the beginning of the game J.J. Watt did a nice job on the sack and first run of the game he spiked inside and had a nice play," O'Brien said.

Watt and rookie Jadeveon Clowney destroyed the left side of Arizona's offensive line on the sack, and provided a glimpse of the good things that could be in store for the Texans defense this season.

3. Jadeveon Clowney- Speaking of the first overall pick, he manhandled the Cardinals' left tackle Jared Veldheer on Watt's sack. Had Watt not gotten to Palmer first, Veldheer might have been bull-rushed into his own QB by the rookie.

Clowney also tallied a tackle for loss when he knifed inside and met running back Stepfan Taylor five yards in the backfield, just as Taylor took the handoff from Drew Stanton.

Twice in O'Brien's Sunday press conference he mentioned Clowney by name as someone who did some nice things. The rookie missed a handful of practices last week after going on what O'Brien termed a "pitch count" for health reasons.

"Last night he played upwards of 20 plays I think," O'Brien said. "I thought that was good. But we’ll always, any guy that is coming off of surgery, offseason surgery early in training camp, which we’re still early in training camp, it’s only the first game, we’ll always look to manage that guy.”

4. First Team Offensive Line- Fitzpatrick didn't get sacked. In fact, three of Arizona's five total quarterback hits didn't come until Houston's final two drives with rookie Tom Savage in at quarterback.

O'Brien liked for the most part what he saw from his starters up front. Duane Brown started at left tackle, with Ben Jones next to him at left guard. Chris Myers was at center, while Alex Kupper got the nod at right guard and Derek Newton was the right tackle.

"They went out there and played pretty well," O'Brien said. "I feel like those guys did their job. We showed flashes of being able to run the ball consistently and things like that. Pass protection was decent."

5. Alfred Blue- The rookie running back churned out 30 yards on five carries, with a long run of 14 yards. He also caught a pair of passes for 14 yards. A contributor on special teams as well, O'Brien was very complimentary of the former LSU Tiger's first time out as a pro.

“I feel good about his progression," O'Brien said. "I thought he went in there last night and had a tackle on the kickoff team, did a nice job on special teams. I thought he had a couple nice runs."

Blue was targeted five times in the passing game, and O'Brien cited that area as a spot where can get better.

"Ran kind of a poor route on a third down play, but you know, that is something we can improve on," O'Brien said. "I felt good about the way he played.”


O'Brien and the Texans will meet at 8 a.m. on Monday morning to go over what he termed "the good, the bad and the ugly." Practice will be pushed back by approximately a half hour because of the meeting.

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