Week 2 TNF Texans at Bengals
Two teams who were horribly defeated in week one square off tonight in a game that may provided further indication of the direction each franchise is travelling in this year. On one side a veteran, established QB will attempt to redeem himself after crushing 5 turnovers (4 picks and a fumble) last time out, whilst, for the opposition, a newcomer making his first start will be attempting to show why he shouldn’t be benched after the first half.
Bill O’Briens decision to relegated anointed starter Tom Savage to the bench after 30mins last weekend was a mind-blowing moment so early in the season. Its not necessarily the wrong choice to replace a guy who in 6 appearances has amassed less than 700 yards and 0 TDs with 4 fumbles lost and an INT thrown in, its simply the timing of the decision that baffles me. Surely one half of football cannot undo what seemed to be a set-stance gained from watching the team through pre-season and practices. If the Texans evaluation process is so easily dismissed then questions have to be asked about O’Briens ability to make the right calls in the first place. Tonight, DeShaun Watson becomes the ninth QB to start for the Texans since O’brien took over to start 2014. 9. That’s more than even the Browns have managed. 9. Throw your mind back to week 1 of 2015 when the world had watched the pre-season battle for the QB role unfurl on “Hard knocks “, culminating with a very disappointed Ryan Mallett losing out to Brian Hoyer. Then, following a shaky but not awful start against a decent Kansas City Chiefs, Hoyer, (18-34 236, 1TD-1INT) was bench for the final quarter and replaced by Mallett. Mallett lasted for 4 starts (3TDs-4INTs) before being side-lined in favour of Hoyer after missing a team flight (not to mention playing badly). If the coach has decided Watson should have the reins it needs to be a permanent shift, no heaving Savage back in after a handful of rookie errors, a team simply can’t move forward like that, as evidenced by the Texans lack of progress so far under this regime. Watson will be 22 today and is bound to have problems, but if the Texans are brave enough to stick with him his ceiling is higher than the underwhelming Savage. Adding to the Texans problems the receiving corps is decimated after C.J Fiedorowicz was placed on I.R with concussion and fellow T.E Ryan Griffin was ruled out for at least this week with the same injury. In fact even 3rd string tight end Stephoin Anderson is out with a concussion leaving only Evan Bayliss (who?) fit at the position. Will Fuller and Bruce Ellington are both out at W.R (concussion and broken collarbone respectively) and even back up running back Alfred Blue is still out with his dodgy ankle. Through in a suspension for Line Backer Brian Cushing for P.E.D.s and an ongoing finger injury to J.J. Watt the picture isn’t pretty. Good luck.
As for the Bengals, well, it all comes down to the O-Line which many said couldn’t be worse than last year, well, it is. Dalton was hurried and hit all night last week v the Ravens and although Houston has its problems it still seems likely to have an overwhelming pass rush at its disposal. Vontaze Burfict is still suspended for his late-hit in preseason but other than that the D is mostly up to full strength. The running game needs to get going to free up A.J Green from double coverage after managing just 75 yards between Hill, Bernard and Mixon last week. This should be helped by the possible debut of speedster John Ross who sat out week 1 through injury and could force the Texans to watch him carefully to avoid lengthy gains.
It’s a tough one to call as neither team is good, it looks likely that the fewest mistakes wins on the day so leaning towards an experienced QB is usually the best call. That said, the Texans D-line should dominate the Bengals front which could force Dalton to throw early and under pressure. In the end the Bengals have better available weapons…
Tight game: TEXANS 13-BENGALS 20 (Watson to play all game)!