HOUSTON -- Many expected the Texans to crush the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, inspired by the response to the unprecedented damage caused to the city by Hurricane Harvey.
Instead, the team looked tired on both sides of the ball, and the offensive line capitulated, giving up double-digit sacks as the Jaguars tore through it consistently.
In a desperate attempt to spark the offense, coach Bill O’Brien put in quarterback Deshaun Watson to begin the second half, benching Tom Savage after a lackluster performance. Savage turned over the ball twice and failed to get the offense moving as the pocket collapsed around him.
Watson’s first drive was impressive. He moved well in the pocket, able to escape and create in a manner that Savage cannot. He found DeAndre Hopkins three times, including a four-yard toss for a score.
After that, however, Watson was largely ineffective. Handicapped further by injuries as the game wore on, the Texans offense ended the game with no healthy tight ends and with only Hopkins registering a stat from the wide receiver group. Watson struggled in part because of this, harried further by pressure as the Texans looked to throw further downfield.
He would fumble once, Dante Fowler kicking the ball out of his hand after being quelled in his efforts to sack Watson.
Watson would also throw an interception, bizarrely deciding that triple coverage merited a throw, which would end up in the hands of safety Tashaun Gipson.
Watson would save a pick-six, tackling Gipson and thus ending up with as many tackles as J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on the day, and one fewer than turnstile guard Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Deshaun Watson’s NFL debut ended 12-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown, a pick and a lost fumble. It is expected that O’Brien will have to stick with Watson as the Texans head to Cincinnati for a Thursday night game.
On a short week, with a rookie quarterback, a porous offensive line, no healthy tight ends and wide receivers who aren’t getting open (Hopkins aside), fans should not be optimistic of the Texans doing much of anything offensively against the Bengals.