There are always lessons from an NFL game. Here are the ones from Monday night:
1. The Texans may actually be able to defend the run after all
We have known for a while that Jadeveon Clowney is a stellar run defender. Surprisingly, he has found a home as a 3-4 defensive end despite being undersized. He may not be the pass rusher that he was in college at South Carolina, but he is having an impact.
More than just Clowney, some of the linebackers are stepping up too. Benardrick McKinney and Brian Cushing were good at the line of scrimmage and John Simon has been solid all year. Of course, it looked like the Texans overplanned against the run, and the Raiders realized it and sent their running backs out of the backfield, forcing the linebackers into coverage. From there, Romeo Crennel refused to adjust, despite the effusive praise Jon Gruden had for him.
2. Brock Osweiler is still making dumb throws
It may look good that he only threw one interception on Monday night, but he had two potential pick sixes dropped. The first was in the first half when defensive end Jihad Ward batted a ball up in the air and nearly caught it on its way down. He didn’t have a clear path to the end zone, but he could have outrun the linemen to get in.
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The second was in the second half when corner David Amerson broke on a pass in the flat and had a clear path to the end zone but simply dropped it.
Of course, some of the blame has to be directed to receivers. For as bad of a year as DeAndre Hopkins allegedly is having, he still leads the Texans with 540 receiving yards, putting him on pace for a paltry 864 for the year. After two 100 yard games to start the season, Will Fuller has completely disappeared, save for the one touchdown he caught against the Titans in week four. This offense has become really stagnant without the threat over the top.
Right now tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is the go-to guy, but he is limited in his playmaking ability; more of a possession receiver type of guy that moves the chains but can’t get big plays.
3. The Texans might actually be able to play in Prime Time and on the road after all
Coming into the game, there was a lot of concern about how Houston would take on Oakland’s prolific offense. The Raiders are one of the top offenses in the league, and one of only three teams to be in the top ten in both passing and rushing yards per game. But for the entire first half, the Texans shut down this powerful offense, save the one touchdown drive. Even the field goal that the Texans gave up in the first half was after the muffed kickoff return, and considering the field position it gave the Raiders I say it was still a win for the Texans.
Of course, this game was overshadowed by the officiating and the laser pointer guy. The Texans might have been able to win this game if not for those two things. But it’s encouraging going into the playoff chase that the Texans aren’t guaranteed to lay an egg either in prime time or away from home.