I watched the game on TV last night and recorded it, so I watched it again.... Here are some of my thoughts after thinking it over.
Lots of interesting stuff on the field last night. No matter what you call it.... "Hot Takes'", "Surprises", "Impressions", or "Head Scratchers", there were a lot of them. I sort of divided these up into categories, although many of them could be in several.
POG (Player of the game...)
I am going to give this to Deshaun Watson. Yes, I know he was not up against our first team, but that dude has game. My first impression: He reminds me of Cam in his first year. He seems pretty fearless, and is not afraid to take off with the ball. He's quick (and fast..). In my opinion he was better than Savage (in most ways...). He throws a nice ball and is accurate. Threaded it into some tight places against pretty good coverage. He will probably be the starter for Houston... if not week one, then shortly thereafter. On the minus side, he seems to have a tendency to run out of the pocket too quickly.... I don't know, maybe its just me. The worst thing is his inability (apparently..) to move strongly to his left. Every "play" he made was to the right, his strong side. He ran numerous bootlegs and our D couldn't really stop him from going that way....even though we SHOULD have seen what was going on. He'll learn though. If he stays healthy, he will be a good one.
QB play (in general..)
Other than Watson, I thought the Texans QB play was pretty pedestrian. Not much to see or talk about, although Savage did manage to move the ball pretty well on one drive after our 1s on defense were subbed out.
OTOH, the Panthers QBs were ALL pretty effective. Anderson was only in for a few series, and one long drive (part of the first quarter..). He looked pretty sharp like we have come to expect of him. I'm not sure that he is our best backup though......... Webb continues to amaze me. He plays like his ass is on fire...all the time. It's not all perfect, but he never has a drop in enthusiasm and NEVER quits on a play. We don't think of him as an "arm", but the dude can throw. Webb played the most last night and engineered two TD drives both completed with TD passes to Byrd. The one interception, was either a mis-read, or a bad route. He had one receiver (Byrd I think...) underneath the ball and one closing from the right. The ball was in the end zone which leads me to believe that one of the receivers was supposed to be there too, OR it might have been just an overthrow (which is more likely..). Every time we get to talking about QBs, the talk always turns to dumping Webb. I'm no longer on the fence about this, IMO Webb stays. He's just too good...... Gilbert looked pretty sharp too. Actually, I was almost as impressed with him as the other two. Good arm... good velocity... good accuracy. Throws a nice ball.!! He's young, and has to develop but sure looks like he has a future... either here or somewhere else.
WR play (in general...)
Strong and Anderson stood out for the Texans. These guys are second teamers (or less..). Strong looked pretty good and Anderson caught four or five passes for a lot of yardage. Not a bad display for backups. Neither Hopkins or Fuller had anything to talk about. One of Anderson's catches was called back (penalty..) because he stepped out of bounds before catching the ball. Big break for us...
KB looked pretty sharp. He has always been a big guy, but he looked pretty much in game shape last night. The TD catch speaks for itself. The one other play that deserves mention is a catch on the left side where Kevin Johnson was trying to defend. Johnson hit Benjamin and just sort of bounced off. To his credit he got up and tried again with even less success. KB reached out, stiff arm, and then just threw him down and away..... like maybe saying "who are you, pissant... chew on this for awhile..". KB then moved on up the sideline powering along until stopped by Watt (I think..). Overall, exactly what he needed to do for this first game. Byrd, got the game ball as well he should have. Two nice catches for TDs behind the defenders. Speed makes a difference. Clay showed his speed too, especially on the WR reverse. That boy can motate..... Duke was sort of an enigma. Two early drops (one almost a fumble..) caused me to wonder. But then he settled down and showed HIS speed and his ability to catch and make plays. Overall, a nice recovery, but he will HAVE to stop the up and down play. Bersin was his normal self (that means no fear, and lots of smarts...) until he was taken out by a defender. Knee injury.??? ( I understand now it was a thigh injury..) Have to wait and see what happens here....
INTERESTING FACT: .... We thought we had a bunch of WRs on the roster (and we do..)... The Texans have twelve (12) listed on their depth chart.!!! Don't know how many on the roster.!!
RB play (in general...)
Texans most talked about rookie, D'onte Foreman, showed some promise with some power. Not too much in the way of highlight reel stuff except the one 41 yard run up the sideline (which is enough, really...) against our backups....not bad though. While Foreman led the Texans in yards due to the one big gainer, I think the real threat on the ground was Alfred Blue. He gashed the Panthers D (2s, 3s, and --) several times for good yardage and a TD. He looked strong and ran well. Neither of these guys would have been nearly as effective against our 1s (IMHO...).
The Panther running game looked good (in general..). I could go on and on here about McC and others but I won't. Just a couple of notes. McCaffrey showed off why he was our #1 pick. Tremendous acceleration. One good run from scrimmage was one errant leg trip by a friendly from turning into a highlight reel play. He knew it and we all could see it too. He showed also that he definitely CAN run between the tackles. I'm not certain how many carries he had, but they were all sort of "up the gut". The one thing that I really noticed was his ability to make something out of nothing. Although he was hit several times at or behind the line, he NEVER lost a yard. Every play was "yards positive..". We only tried to throw to him one time, a screen pass, but it didn't develop when the ball was batted down. When he gets moving out of the backfield into downfield routes, defenses better watch out. Stew ran a few plays and looked good. Simmons ran tough and was effective. He was the top ground gainer and had the most carries. In addition, Simmons also caught a pass out of the backfield for a few yards. Fozzy and CAP both ran some plays. Both of them had one nice run (CAP=20 yd; Foz=11 yd...). After those two runs there was little to talk about. Foz had one more carry and lost yardage, and CAP carried five more times and gained two more yards. Webb carried three times and averaged 7.0 per carry; and of course there was the Clay WR reverse that netted 18 yds...
A very workmanlike effort. The O-line did extremely well overall. Only one sack (I think..??) and good pass pro. Run blocking was up and down. The "star" of the O-Line - IMO - was Amini Silatolu. He came in and played like he belonged. It wasn't perfect, but it was SOLID. Really a pleasant surprise considering how little he has played the past two or three years and how foreign the tackle spot is to him. Moton proved he could handle the assignment. He has some learning to go yet, but he is going to be a good one.!! The guards played well, if not stand-out performances. Center duties were handled well with Kalil sitting this one out. No issues with snaps or fumbles here. I think the center position is gold.
Olsen... Well, his normal self. Terrific. One of the best in the league. Other than Olsen though, the TE group were pretty much "under the radar". I think Manhertz caught a pass.... Now, having said that, the blocking was not bad. Referring back to the O-line as well, the TEs held up their end of the bargain.
This is all about KK right.?? Well, not really.!! I'm including the DEs here. So okay, KK played his usual "Immoveable object" routine AND the "irresistible force" routine as well. It's hard to complain about this guy...so I won't.!! KK gets his first sack of the year and was constantly disruptive while he was in the game.The Panthers played a lot of DEs in this game as was expected. CJ and Peppers were both sitting out. Still we played at least eight DEs in this game including Addison, Horton, Cox, Hall, Webster, Crume, Moore, and Obada. And maybe more..?? Most of the play was workmanlike as befitted their place on the depth chart. Nothing much to write home about... Oh, Obada had a sack as well as KK. After the 1s left the game and players started rotating in the defense lost some of it's luster. A little disappointing actually.
The 1s played two series I think. Very effective. Two straight three and outs. Luke showed off a little going left and knifing into the backfield for a stop. Everything was as expected while these guys were in the game. Solid play. Good coverage underneath. Good gap discipline. Good tackling. Didn't play long though....... The 2s and 3s were a little disappointing to me, although Cash and Mayo were both quite effective. Jared Norris played well too with eight tackles (I think..??). Quite a few fails to get off the field even when holding the Texans to 3rd and long. Allowed far too many 3rd down conversions early in the game. As the game progressed the 3rd down stuff got a little better, so overall, it wasn't too bad. 3rd and long however was NOT good.!! Also failed to stop Blue... although he is a good back and hard to deal with because of his shifty skills. Overall, the LB play was good, although the guys with less experience will definitely benefit by playing alongside the veterans.
Well, the Safeties and CBs got a workout, that's for certain. Initially, I thought our early coverages were pretty good. Seemed to be in the right place and good instincts and skills. We played zone almost the entire game (maybe the whole game...??), I can't remember any man coverages. So, very little or NO press coverage from the line of scrimmage. This allows the receivers (and the backs as well..) to run free from the snap. So, we saw quite a bit of short, underneath stuff that was completed. In fact, the Texans had more total yards than we did. More rushing AND more passing. Just shows that big yardage does not necessarily guarantee a victory.... although I much prefer to be on the plus side of that statistic.!! No TDs allowed by the DBs through the air. Of interest to me were several players. I'll just name them and short comment. No need to ramble on here. Dezmen Southward, Cole Luke, Colin Jones, LJ McCray, and Zack Sanchez were all sort of notable for their involvement in the game. All of them had at least four tackles with Southward leading the charge with six and Cole Luke with five. LJ McCray looked aggressive as did Colin Jones especially close to the line of scrimmage. LJ McCray was credited with 1/2 of a sack. Interestingly, Damien Parms, playing behind McCray and Adams on the depth chart also had a sack. Most of Southward and Lukes tackles were after catches.... which is good, don't get me wrong. But it would have been so much better if there had been fewer catches.!! Southward also recovered the lone fumble that was forced by "someone". There is apparently some discussion about who actually caused the fumble. Not to me, but...???
The coverage was good. Kept everything contained pretty well. No major errors that I could see. JJ Jansen was perfect...as usual. The kicking competition was NOT solved in this game. Gano was longer off of the tee, but missed his first FG attempt at 5o+ yds. He later made one at 45 (or close to that..). Butker attempted one FG and made it at 50+ yds. His kickoffs were a little shorter. All PATs were successful. Punters had a decent day too. Actually I am giving the nod here to Palardy. He out kicked Lee by quite a bit. Lee had two punts that averaged 36 yds with a long of 40 and one inside the 20 yd line. Palardy had two punts also that averaged 46.5 yds with a long of 51 and both of them were inside the 20 yd line. So advantage=Palardy.
PR/KR stuff was spread out as most of us thought it would be. Punt returns were handled by Byrd (2), Duke (2), and Clay (1). Byrd's returns averaged 9.5 yds with a long of 13. Duke averaged 3.5 yds with a long of 6. Clay had one return for 20 yds. Kick offs were handled by Jalen Simmons and Byrd. Simmons was 24 yds, and Byrd was 22 yds. I thought Clay's return was really nice. PRs are tough because there is typically very little time to plan your first move. You have to be quick and you have to be right.!! I can't wait to see MCCaffrey return some kicks. I think that guy will be the bomb...
Just gonna lump all of this together. Some of this is good and some not so much so. So, here we go... We allowed two TDs but NONE through the air. We scored three TDs ALL through the air. We allowed only one sack. We got FIVE sacks in return. The sacks went to 6 different players with Jeremy Cash and LJ MCCray splitting one. The other four went to Bigger, Parms, Obada, and KK. We had no fumbles, but got one from the Texans. So the turn over differential stays at zero (0). We threw 27 times with 15 completions and 1 interception, averaging 9.3 yds per completion. The Texans threw 45 times with 28 completions and no interceptions, averaging 6.4 yds per catch. So it's obvious we are still not throwing underneath as much as we probably should be. The rest of this isn't very pretty.... We lose the 1st down battle 19 vs. 23. We lose total yds 388 vs. 410. We lose rushing yds 146 vs. 153. We lose passing yds 242 vs. 257. AND we lose Time of Possession 26:30 vs. 33:30.
But we win the game. Why..?? Because we made the plays when we had to. AND and one more thing... the Texans had their butts handed to them on penalties. We played a pretty clean game in comparison.
Well, that's it from here.... You can disagree with my conclusions of course, but the numbers are pretty much right.....