29 observations from Texans at Panthers


It was a rough day in Carolina, actually an exhausting day in Charlotte, as the Texans went down to defeat at the hands of a physical Carolina Panthers squad 24-17. The Texans, shorthanded throughout the game, moved the ball inside the Panthers 20 yard line at the end, but alas, it wasn't meant to be on this day. Here are my observations from this one.

  1. The heat was a significant factor on both sides yesterday. Sure, both teams practice in that Southern-style microwave, but playing in it at 100% full game speed and practicing in it are two entirely different things. Both sides really felt the effects of it as the game wore on.
  1. I'll sure be glad to see a more conventional offense on Sunday and I'm not the only one. The read option/QB run packages haven't been the nail in the Texans defensive coffin, but it hasn't helped them either the past two weeks.
  1. Not sure what happened on the first offensive play from scrimmage but two weeks in a row there's been a communication issue of some sort that just can't happen.
  1. The drops. Ugh. I counted four or five of them in the first half. That's got to change.
  1. I'll give props where they're deserved and you'd be hard pressed to tell me that Carolina CB Josh Norman isn't or shouldn't be a Pro Bowler at the end of this season. For some reason, my eyes went to him on the first third down of the game and it was clear he knew the tunnel screen was coming. He signaled his safety to get behind him just in case and to let him know that he was taking the shot. Real good player who followed DeAndre Hopkins for much of the day.
  1. Oh man, Kareem Jackson was oh so close on the Panthers second drive of the game of a pick six. J.J. Watt tipped a Cam Newton pass that was intended for TE Greg Olsen and Kareem came within inches of catching it and taking a short jog to the house for six. That could've been a game changer right out of the chute.
  1. The Texans had penalties on the first three or four punt/kickoff returns in the game, but finally provided some value with returns later in the game that helped the field position battle. Hopefully, that remains more of a constant going forward.
  1. QB Ryan Mallett didn't have a day that'll be remembered in Texans lore, but he showed some guts and heart in this one. He took a pounding and made some key throws throughout the day. Some of his best throws, though, were unfortunately dropped. The throw he made in the first quarter when he got some heat, rolled right and threw on the run was one of his best throws of the day but it wasn't caught.
  1. That said, I don't know that any QB in this league that throws the out route with as much sauce as Mallett. Wow.
  1. Short yardage situations have been a bugaboo for the Texans since the first and goal to go against the 49ers in the pre-season, but they picked up one third and one with Jay Prosch's first ever carry in the first half and then a Chris Polk fourth and one late in the game. If anything else, that was a good sign.
  1. We talked about this on the broadcast but on 2nd and six on the Texans field goal drive in the first half, the Texans missed a golden opportunity. The Texans ran zone boot out of the gun with Nate Washington the lone receiver to the right side. Carolina's Wes Horton stayed home and forced Mallett to have to bubble but Washington beat the DB by yards. Yards, plural. The problem was that he bent the route to the sideline, instead of heading for the back corner of the end zone. In doing so, he made it a really tough throw for Mallett to make, on the run with Horton in his face. With no safety help behind Washington, Mallett could have lobbed one to the corner of the end zone much easier than the throw he eventually had to make.
  1. On the Texans third drive, the Panthers gave one to the Texans with a 15-yard penalty on Thomas Davis Sr. to keep a dead drive alive. The very next play Mallett eyed DeAndre Hopkins deep downfield and launched. Hop was held, pushed and shoved well beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage. No call. The Texans got one, legitimately, then lost a huge opportunity on the next one, questionably.
  1. On the 4th and five to end the Texans last drive of the first quarter, Mallett threw to Grimes who was short of the first down. He missed Cecil Shorts III down the seam, coming out of the bunch alignment. Easy for me to say but he did have him open with a defender behind him.
  1. The Texans defense had a few wrinkles that I can see on tape but when the wrinkle worked, so to speak, the second/third level defenders missed tackles.
  1. Benardrick McKinney got some playing time in the first half and made a whale of a play on the Panthers' slip screen. He made a brilliant play that nearly turned into an interception.
  1. Oh, by the way, Panthers P Brad Nortman...stud punter. He hit bombs as did Texans P Shane Lechler. Both of them all day long.
  1. I've always been a fan of Cam Newton and I hated seeing him make plays. The throw he made to Ted Ginn Jr. was a gem. He threw it before Ginn Jr. had even make his spin on the double move. His stats didn't tell the whole story.
  1. Tackling. It's got to improve. That's all I've got to say about that.
  1. When Kevin Johnson is on the field, he makes plays, of course, when he's not going "flying Wallenda" to make tackles. His cover skills are solid and transitional quickness is top notch. I, and others, would like to see him get continued playing time. His break on the ball on the slant route to Panthers WR Devin Funchess was awesome and if he were there just a millisecond earlier, it's a pick six.
  1. Rahim Moore played the best he's played since being in Houston. One interception counted, one that saved points. His second interception, an amazing play, was taken away after a holding penalty. That was a brilliant play, one that you'd expect a player of his caliber to make.
  1. Man, if J.J. Watt could have just snatched that quick screen from Cam Newton near the end of the first half...oh gosh. It would've been a remarkable catch but MAN, the momentum that would've given them.
  1. The fastball from Mallett to Cecil Shorts III on the Texans first drive of the third quarter was just...wow, that had some sauce. Shorts III took a big-time shot, but he held on for a key first down on that scoring drive.
  1. Garrett Graham let the doves fly. Somewhere Prince tipped his cap.
  1. You can't freelance against a quarterback that can scramble and not expect to get burned a bit. You just can't. That happened a few times. Jameis isn't Cam but he'll improvise. Andrew Luck isn't Cam but he'll improvise. Blake Bortles isn't Cam but he'll improvise. You get the point?
  1. I'm not sure why there was celebration battle yesterday between Cam, J.J. and Mallett but I did chuckle at it a bit. Unfortunately, Cam came away the winner and his flip for a TD put it over the top. Literally and figuratively.
  1. The non-J.J Watt sack by Eddie Pleasant and Quintin Demps was the direct result of containing Cam in the pocket and enveloping him in it. That's the way it supposed to be done against a mobile QB like him.
  1. No one was open on Mallett's interception down the seam. That was a definitive throw away situation. At that point, throw it away, live to see third down, punt and play defense. I hate that way of thinking, but at that point in the game, it was what was needed. Tough one there.
  1. When Nate Washington caught the deep pass, there was 8:33 left on the clock. He stumbled and that happens, but how costly was it? Mallett finished that drive with 6:31 on his scramble for a TD. That's two minutes. Now, perhaps Carolina doesn't try a field goal and just punts at the end of the game, but that's two full minutes to play with at the end of the game that were desperately needed.
  1. Jared Crick has played really well this season and that field goal block was just the cherry on the sundae.

Well, that's all. Enough of Carolina, it's on to Tampa Bay, a must win situation if there ever was one in game three. See ya' then everyone.

Check out these snapshots from the Texans' Week 2 matchup with the Panthers.

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