Houston had a rough first week to the NFL season, losing 29-7 to Jacksonville. They failed to be successful in any facet of the game which led to the disappointing loss. The Texans must accomplish these five keys to rebound in week two and come away with a win.
1. Keep Deshaun Watson Upright
The lackluster offensive line for the Texans allowed Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson to be sacked ten times. This is unacceptable for any team at any level of football. This is the way quarterbacks get ruined and never live up to expectations (see Carr, David). Houston must protect Watson so he has adequate time in the pocket to read the defense and complete passes.
2. Run, Run, Run and Run Some More
The Texans rushing attack was abysmal week one, totaling 93 yards on 23 carries. However there is a chance for improvement this week against a Bengals defense who will be without Vontaze Burfict. Cincinnati’s defense is noticeably different without Burfict and they must take advantage. Baltimore managed to rush 42 times for 157 yards and a touchdown last week against Cincinnati and Houston must look to replicate their success.
3. Pressure Andy Dalton
Houston’s pass rush was unable to get a sack in week one and this is a major red flag. Players such as J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus must pressure Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Pressuring Dalton will lead to sacks and potentially turnovers, Dalton was sacked five times had five turnovers last week (four interceptions and one fumble) and these turnovers can alter the game in Houston’s favor.
4. Incorporate Jaelen Strong
Jaelen Strong is returning from a suspension this week and the timing could not be better. C.J. Fiedorowicz is in concussion protocol and has been placed on injured reserve. Fellow tight ends Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson also have concussions and their status remains up in the air. This is where Strong must make an impact, outside of DeAndre Hopkins there is not a reliable pass catcher on the roster. It is necessary for Strong to make an impact if the Texans are to win this week.
5. Contain the Bengals Rushing Attack
There is enormous potential in the Cincinnati backfield with Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and controversial rookie Joe Mixon. They were unable to do much against the Ravens last week (22 attempts for 77 yards), but with how Jacksonville’s running backs performed last week (39 attempts 155 yards and one touchdown) the Bengals will look to duplicate their success. If the trio of Hill, Bernard and Mixon can get it going on Thursday it could be a long night for Houston’s defense.
If these keys to the game look familiar it is because they are, they are nearly identical to last week’s keys which the Texans failed to accomplish. Having success in these five areas is essential if the Texans want to win in week two and avoid the dreaded 0-2 start to the season. If the Texans lose head coach Bill O’Brien will be making best friends with the proverbial hot seat.