By NEAL FARMER
It appears that the Texans loss on Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars was the best-case scenario for Duane Brown.
Brown is holding out for a better contract. Texans management said they don’t re-negotiate with hold-outs when they are under a current contract. Brown plays left tackle, which is an important position because he guards the blind side of right-handed quarterbacks. I would not be surprised if the two current Houston quarterbacks took enough hits that both become blind in the next two months because of the poor play of the line. The Houston o-line made the Jacksonville defense look like Satan’s lap dogs, as they ripped apart a porous line and sacked Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson a combined 10 times. It is a new Jacksonville franchise record for sacks.
There likely will be a debate about a quarterback controversy. But it doesn’t matter who the Houston quarterback is – unless he is a descendent of Houdini – because the Texans offensive line can’t protect like it should.
It looks like the only difference on Sunday between Savage and Watson is that Watson can tackle a defender who just intercepted his pass. They both threw passes they should not have. And some of it was because they were under pressure and making decisions under fire. I guess Watson would be the choice to start on Thursday against Cincinnati, because he can run faster out of danger from a collapsing pocket.
Things looked promising for Watson, as he replaced Savage to begin the second half. The rookie took the Texans on a drive for a TD on his first time under center. Houston had more offense on that one drive that it did in the previous two quarters. But two key Jacksonville penalties assisted Watson and the Texans with that score.
After that, Watson was just as ineffective as Savage. Savage averaged 4.8 yards a pass completion and Watson averaged 4.4 yards.
Is there a way to schedule Cleveland every week for the rest of the year? A lot can happen over the development phase of a new quarterback. But if we are just looking at this game to judge the rest of the year, and the o-line doesn’t improve, I don’t see Houston being a .500 team.
A DAY IN PRAIRIE VIEW: A friend invited me and my daughter to watch the Prairie View A&M-Sam Houston State football game on Thursday in Prairie View. I am a recovering sportswriter from the Chronicle, and I remember covering football games at Blackshear Field on the PV campus. It was a dump. There were rotting boards, poor drainage and other less-than-savory things about it. (I once talked to Kenny Houston, the All-Pro safety for the Houston Oilers and Washington Redskins, who said when he was a freshman at PV he had to chase cows away from the football field during practices. It is an agriculture school, but wow: He was the designated cow-chaser. That has got to be two levels below freshman bench warmer.)
OMG. When I got there, it was if angels had sung, and Heaven parted. The Texas A&M System spent $60 million for a stadium and field house, and built one of the nicest facilities at a small college in the country. The stadium opened in time for the 2016 season and was renamed Panther Stadium at Blackshear Field. The sightlines were great – not a bad seat in the house. It holds 15,000 but can expand to 30,000. I sat in the Athletic Director’s suite, and those seats were on the 50 and close to the field. And it seems like every student at the school was at the stadium, and were actively involved in the game. However, there were a lot of kids on the concourse at halftime who did not make it back to the seats. Apparently, that is the time to see and be seen in Prairie View.
You are in the country, and the people who worked at the facility are country-nice. Most ask how you are doing and have stories about PV or their family that they shared.
The game was tough for the Panthers. Sam Houston is usually in the FCS playoffs, and was rated No. 5 in the country at the time of the game. PV has struggled on the big stage in the past. The Panthers missed a game with Texas Southern the week before in Houston, as Hurricane Harvey caused that annual grudge match to be postponed until Nov. 25.
That lack of playing time hurt PV against Sam Houston. PV’s defense had a hard time stopping the look-in and button hook passes that the Bearkats threw. Also, one of the PV friends who invited me to the game had a cousin who plays for Sam Houston, and that cousin ran a kickoff back 92 yards for a Bearkat score. Talk about mixed feelings.
The timing of PV’s quarterback was off a bit, but the Panthers were within six points of the Bearkats in the middle of the third quarter. Sam Houston was able to outscore PV in the fourth period and win 44-31. I have to think that if PV has played the week before, the game would have been closer. If the Panthers can avoid the injury bug, they should do well this season. But depth is always the bugaboo of all small-college teams.
During halftime, the school played a tribute to Houston Strong and the hurricane victims of the Gulf Coast. Many of their students live near Houston or Cypress and commute the 30-45 minutes it takes to get to the campus. And the band had a certain swag when it played. (I remember some of the Texas A&M friends said that the Aggies may have lost football games but they have never lost a halftime show. But those same friends admitted that when Prairie View played at A&M last year the PV band won that show.)
I remember that last year during the high school playoffs – a sacred time in Texas – that several area high school football teams had their playoff games at Panther Stadium. If you have not gone, I would suggest going to see the stadium. I live in Northwest Houston in Jersey Village, and had thought of PV as too far away. That is just not the case. And you won’t be employed to chase any cows away this time.
FIERS OFF THE PLAYOFF ROSTER?: Despite the Astros recent slump, they will be in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how they do against Oakland. It now only matters how they match up against New York, Boston and Cleveland – the teams they will face in the playoffs. But it really, really sucks that Mike Fiers appears to be the odd man out for the playoff roster. There could be injuries to pitchers – again – that would allow Fiers to pitch in the post-season. Without Fiers, the Astros would not have their current record. That is the unfortunate, unforeseen fallout of trading for Justin Verlander.
TEXANS OFFER JAGUARS FULL RUN OF FACILITY: With Hurricane Irma slashing through Florida, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien called Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone and offered him the use of the Houston Texans facilities this week – whatever the Jaguars needed. Jacksonville officials said they would stay in Houston after the Sunday game with the Texans and then make decisions.
The two coaches both knew each other from when they were on the same staff of assistant coaches at Georgia Tech.
“I got in touch with Doug and just told them if there is anything we can do if they end up staying here they can certainly use our facility,” said O’Brien. “We will make do with that, just like Dallas did for us. That is part of that human element we talked about. Look, there is not much we can do about it but hopefully everyone can stay safe.”
Jacksonville also offered to flip home dates with Houston is NRG Stadium was not ready for Sunday’s game due to recent flooding.
I am hoping someone with the frickin’ Texas Rangers took note.
CURRENT PLAYERS WHO ARE LOCKS FOR NFL HALL OF FAME: Tom Brady is No. 1 and JJ Watt No. 3 –http://newarena.com/nfl/the-23-active-nfl-players-who-are-mortal-locks-for-the-hall-of-fame/?amxt=hexagram_organic_2&utm_campaign=fb_bh_rd_dt_nflhof_locks&utm_source=fb_ae&utm_medium=fbdt-hexagram_organic_2&utm_term=AFCEast
CLASSICAL NOTES: Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata. A slow, moody piece written in a minor key for those who are upset with the way the Texans played. There is not an ounce of happiness in this piece, just like the result of Sunday’s game at NRG Stadium.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Somewhere out there is a tree, producing oxygen so you can breath. I think you owe it an apology. For Texas Ranger brass.
HOTTIE OF THE DAY:
Daisy Duke as a Texan supporter? We can see why her initials a Double D.