Watson looks to improve against Titans without key lineman


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After Sunday's loss, Watson said his energy was uncharacteristically low. He also called his performance "terrible.

Watson only completed 17 of 34 passes for 176 yards to go along with a touchdown, an interception and a fumble in the Texans' 27-20 loss. Watson was responsible for just one play that sprang for 20-plus yards.

The Patriots gave him few chances to get comfortable. A pressure-heavy defense battered Houston’s shaky offensive line, flushing Watson from the pocket. New England was ready for DeAndre Hopkins as well, backing its secondary from the line of scrimmage to take away the Texans deep ball attack. The strategy left Watson throwing on the run into tight windows, and it paid off.

And when Watson did find open receivers, he struggled to hit them in stride — or at all, as happened in a vital third quarter drive. Facing third-and-five from the New England 17, the Houston QB dealt with pressure in the pocket to deliver a rainbow-arcing pass that sailed over reserve tight end Ryan Griffin’s head and fell to the turf. One play later, it was a different spot but the same result; an uncatchable ball in a pressure-filled situation. The Texans turned the ball over on downs, and the outcome of the game was all but sealed.

Admitting the problem is the first step toward solving it. Given the progress he made in short order as a rookie, he should be able to correct his course in time for Week 2. Watson tried to do too much in his season opener, forcing the ball downfield when smaller but certain gains were available near the line of scrimmage. That’s an easy issue to fix; the Texans’ quarterback just has to accept that even the game’s most exciting players check down sometimes.

Although they gave up 27 points on the day, 10 of those came off turnovers from the Texans offense. The Patriots did a phenomenal job keeping Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus at bay allowing zero sacks between those three players. Watt looked winded, but pressured Brady and impacted the running game in the second half

The safeties, however, were solid. Kareem Jackson was all over the place in his first start as safety—forcing two fumbles and making 8 tackles. It looks as if he should have been in this spot years ago. Tyrann Mathieu had a strong debut performance, picking off Brady early in the game and recovering a fumble. Mathieu is going to be a leader on this defense. Rookie Justin Reid also made a nice play on the ball in the second half.

The Texans are heading to Nashville next week to take on the Tennessee Titans. They cannot afford to start the season 0-2, so they need to come out with more desire against their former defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel. Two losses to start the season will greatly impact the Texans chances at making the playoffs, so a win against a division rival will be huge for the Texans before taking on the Giants at home two weeks from now.