Well, that wasn't a whole lot of fun. The 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs to start the 2015 season, hopefully, won't define the 2015 season, but it certainly wasn't the statement that Bill O'Brien, coaching staff and players wanted to make to begin the year. Before we move on to Carolina, here are my observations from Sunday's game.
- Prior to the game, I wasn't quite sure who was more jacked up to participate in this game more than linebackers coach Mike Vrabel. That dude could still play a series, in a pinch.
- DT Vince Wilfork was called for an offside penalty on the first play of the game but he wasn't offsides. He jumped the snap as KC went with a silent count to start the game. He just anticipated the head turn of center Mitch Morse and hit it perfectly. Apparently not perfectly enough based on the side judge on the KC side of the field.
- Although OLB Jadeveon Clowney didn't have any splash plays like sacks or monster hits, his first game back after microfracture surgery showed definite flashes. His power more than anything else flashed throughout. He had at least two plays that I remember where he just shocked a tight end, held him up and turned the play back inside or held it up for someone to make a play. One of JJ Watt's six tackles for a loss was a sheer result of Clowney holding up the tight end with a stab move and shoving him right back into the running back. He made two huge plays running down ball-carriers for two tackles for a loss.
- Perhaps Clowney's most impressive play was his tackle on Jamaal Charles knocking him out of bounds just short of a first down as he chased the play from the inside.
- In essence, Clowney's impact wasn't where it will be, but for his first action, he made significant strides.
- Tackling wasn't good on Sunday. At either second or third level of the defense. Just wasn't consistent at all when it really needed to be.
- Had the Texans gotten the Chiefs in more second/third and long, we might have seen more of one of my favorite alignments. Jared Crick, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney aligned on the same side of the defensive formation opposite JJ Watt.
- Not sure what happened on the Chiefs first punt of the game, but the Texans had nine guys on the field. The Texans were in a safe look, but not everyone got the memo, it appeared.
- On the same punt, rookie Keith Mumphery called a fair catch then let the ball hit three feet from him as he let it go. The Chiefs downed it at the six, instead the ball being fair caught at the 12. Not sure if it would've made a difference given the first play of the offensive series.
- Honestly, I've watched the first offensive play of the game a few dozen times and I can't tell what's going on. DeAndre Hopkins doesn't look like he knows that he's supposed to be in the route. QB Brian Hoyer got a rusher right in his face and can't follow through on his throw. It was a mess from jump.
- Turnovers deep in the red zone are a killer, but what will rile up Bill O'Brien and the coaching staff is that after the Marcus Peters interception, the defense gave up a TD in two plays. After the sack fumble in the second quarter, the Chiefs scored on the next play. Sudden change situations are the ultimate test for a defense and the Texans have to do a better job answering a rough situation.
- I've said it for a while and will say it again, I have no concern about this wide receiver corps. Yes, Hopkins had a key drop on third down, which was a near aberration and Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington each had a drop. But, overall, Hopkins, Nate, Cecil and Keith Mumphery all made plays in the passing game and will continue to in the future. Washington's first catch as a Texan was a gem down the Chiefs sideline over the top of Tamba Hali.
- The refs missed two blatant PI's on the Chiefs. One was on the post route to Cecil Shorts III on the second drive of the game. That was costly. The second one was late in the first half and perhaps even a worse miss. Those non-calls cost the Texans points. It didn't cost the Texans the game, but it didn't help the cause.
- The Chiefs' 3rd and 13 screen call, midway through the first quarter was brilliant. Gotta give credit where it's due. That call was the PERFECT play call in that situation. Oh, yeah and that zone read or counter option stuff the Chiefs ran? We'll see it again next week too.
- Chiefs TE Travis Kelce's second touchdown wasn't what I first thought. I originally thought he crossed the formation from the offense's right. But, he didn't. He started on the left side. He drove down the field as if he was going to cross the formation, then darted out to his left wide open about 15-17 yards downfield. There wasn't a Texan in sight. Not totally sure of the coverage but whatever it was, sadly, someone blew the coverage.
- The Texans rushed only four and dropped seven. The Chiefs only put three into the pattern and against seven cover guys, one guy was WIDE open. Watching it back again, slot WR Chris Conley had THREE guys tracking him down the seam. The rookie wasn't catching that ball, but unfortunately, that left no one for Kelce.
- The first touchdown drive for the Texans was what this offensive group is capable of, even without Arian Foster. Protection was solid all throughout that drive. The run game hit big a couple of times, minus a great play by LB Derrick Johnson earlier in the drive. Hoyer threw it well. THAT'S what it was supposed to look like all day long. Hop's TD catch was just sublime.
- Don't ever say that pre-season doesn't matter. The Chiefs ran toss crack, something the Texans struggled with in pre-season games. The Chiefs cut block a significant number of times in this game, especially after the Broncos had success doing so in game number two. I wrote down a few times "Chiefs cutting well". The Texans' flaws, so to speak, versus those plays came up at inopportune times in the opener.
- Boy, Nate Washington made some big-time catches throughout the day. At this point, he is the best value of any off-season signing/acquisition.
- DeAndre had three drops all last season. Seeing him drop a pass is odd and that one on third and one was just a rough one to see.
- On the fourth and one play, the Texans ran one of my favorite plays - weakside isolation. I couldn't see that play originally, but RT Derek Newton and RG Brandon Brooks made excellent blocks. The Chiefs were in a bear 46 front with a free safety at the strong side ILB. It was blocked well enough to get the first down. The breakdown was on the two backs in the backfield. The two backs on that play didn't execute well enough to get that first down play, simply put. In all honesty, the way Newton and Brooks blocked that play, it should've been a clean first down and perhaps more than that. That 4th and one was the unfortunate epitome of the day - some good, some really good, far outweighed by costly bad.
- During the game broadcast, I noted that it felt like all game the entire team needed a shot of some "juice" as Bill O'Brien calls it. QB Ryan Mallett's arrival in the game seemed to be that booster shot.
- It didn't seem as if Mallett had any nerves, he had nothing to lose, he was just firing. The rock came out of his hand hot, on time and on target. His best throw was on 2nd and 10 when a clean blitzer was flying up in the A gap; he stood tall and delivered a dart to Hopkins for a first down.
- One last note before I sign off, please, PLEASE, appreciate what we're seeing from J.J. Watt. Nine total tackles. Six tackles for a loss. Two sacks. It's almost difficult to put into words what he does on a football field. The numbers are ridiculous, but the fact that he never comes off the field is so incredibly impressive. It's greatness right in front of us, so hopefully none of us truly take it for granted. Team success will follow soon but No. 99 is special.
Well, it's on to Carolina to get back to 1-1 and put this loss in the rearview mirror. See ya' then everyone.
Take a look at photos from Sunday's matchup with the Chiefs.