HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans bested the Cleveland Browns, 33-17, to move to 3-3 entering their Week 7 bye. With another good performance from Deshaun Watson and the offense, complemented by three interceptions from the defense, this was an all-around solid performance against a miserable Browns team.
Here are three quick takeaways:
Johnathan Joseph is still a very good cornerback
Joseph has drawn some criticism this season, which is bizarre given his consistently high level of play. Opposing quarterbacks tend to avoid the wily veteran, who continues to get it done despite physical deterioration. Against the Browns, Joseph was outstanding and had the big plays to prove it.
Joseph had two interceptions, returning the first for a touchdown, and showed impressive flexibility to get his feet down and tip-toe down the sideline. Additionally, three pass break-ups were attributed to the corner, and he was his usual sure-self as a tackler in the run game. This excellent performance from Joseph helped the defense almost entirely nullify the Browns’ passing game.
Front seven fronts up
J.J. Watt’s and Whitney Mercilus’ injuries threatened to derail the Texans’ season, but the early signs are positive after a good performance from the front seven. The Browns have a strong offensive line, but it has struggled somewhat for chemistry. The Texans pass-rushers took advantage, harrying Kevin Hogan for most of the afternoon.
The Texans had four sacks and seven quarterback hits on the day, with strong performances from D.J. Reader, Carlos Watkins and Ufomba Kamalu. New addition Lamarr Houston provided an impact as a rotational option at outside linebacker (collecting his first sack as a Texan), and Brennan Scarlett had an all-around solid game. Benardrick McKinney stepped up as a defensive leader in Watt and Mercilus’ absence, setting the tone by leading the team in tackles. McKinney was also crucial in making sure the young and new players lined up correctly after some early issues.
Most encouraging is that none of those pressures listed above were credited to Jadeveon Clowney. The star outside linebacker drew attention on every play, allowing others to make plays. The officials also missed a number of egregious holds on Clowney.
The Texans could serve to improve their run defense after Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. shredded them at times, but by and large the front seven performed well. Sterner tests await, however, and the bye comes at a good time to allow the Texans to sort out where they stand going forward.
Texans’ injury issues continue
Another week, another pair of injuries to key Texans players. Starting left tackle Chris Clark (calf) and standout linebacker Dylan Cole (hamstring) did not return to the game.
Cole’s was particularly disappointing, which came while he celebrated his second interception on the year. The injury appeared serious at the time, but Cole was briefly declared questionable to return rather than immediately out for the game, so may perhaps it may not be as severe as it looked.
Clark left the game quietly at the end of a Texans drive without the cameras catching how the injury occurred. The severity of Clark’s injury is unknown. Fortunately for both players, the bye week will give them additional time to recover and hopefully return to the field in Week 8 for a tough road test against the Seattle Seahawks.