There’s a lot to unpack for the Houston Texans after their second defeat of the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens.
Houston Texans Week 2 Recap: Good, bad, ugly against Baltimore Ravens
The Houston Texans special teams showed up once again in Week 2. There might have existed the notion that the Texans could have struggled with Brad Seely no longer in the picture, but his longtime assistant, Tracy Smith, has shown to be a natural successor on special teams.
Bryan Anger placed two of his three punts in the opponents' 20-yard territory for the second consecutive game. The punting coverage was superb and limited Ravens returner James Proche to only one punt return for 8 yards. Anger averaged 46.7 yards per punt and did his part in flipping the field for the defense and doing his part by giving the defense a lot of field to work with.
Meanwhile, Ka’imi Fairbairn was three for three on field-goal attempts and made his lone extra point of the game in the second quarter. It’s never good when we have to mention a kicker in the positives, but the special teams were really a bright spot for Houston.
On the other hand, the Texans' defense also had some impressive moments on film despite allowing 26 points. The Ravens offense only scored 2 TD on the Texans defense.That’s the best outcome you could’ve asked for if Houston had a shot to win this game.
The pass rush did its part by sacking Lamar Jackson four times. J.J. Watt (twice), Zach Cunningham, and Charles Omenihu got to Jackson as the game progressed. Meanwhile, P.J. Hall and Jacob Martin were two of the most disruptive players on the Texans defensive front. Houston needs more athletic physical defenders like Hall and Martin that can make tough on athletic quarterbacks like Jackson.
Cunningham had a solid game as he finished with 15 total tackles, sack, and a quarterback hit. He had a few plays he will want to take back as he missed a tackle on J.K. Dobbins on third down that put Baltimore in better range for a field goal to conclude the drive, and surrendered a one-yard touchdown reception at the goal line to fullback Patrick Richard.
Meanwhile, Benardrick McKinney and Justin Reid finished the game with 10 tackles. McKinney and Reid came to play after a shaky season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The defense really played well for as long as they could, but all sides have to be firing on all cylinders to defeat a tough opponent like the Ravens.
The Houston Texans offense looked lethargic at times and with a lack of identity as they look to figure things out with a lot of new faces on offense. This is the same problem they had in Week 1. It seemed Tim Kelly tried to put Watson more on the move, but it was frugal as the offense only completed one drive for a touchdown with Darren Fells outmuscling a Ravens' defender in the endzone.
The offense seems disjointed at times as the receivers can't seem to thrive at the same time. Will Fuller was the bright spot in Week 1 and Brandin Cooks was the revelation in their second game. Cooks finished with 5 receptions for 95 yards, but with no touchdown receptions. Cooks was in the position to score in the second half, but Watson threw the ball at his feet with pressure coming quickly.
It's fair to point out that Fuller dealt with a hamstring injury that limited him for the majority of the game. Injuries are an understandable part of the game, but Texans will have to manage how they handle them. Kenny Stills should have seen a bigger role if Fuller's injury was affecting his performance in the second half.
The offensive line were also culprits in the offense poor outing as Max Scharping and Senio Kelemete rotated in and out at left guard due to how they were struggling. Scharping saw 37 snaps while Kelemete saw 22.
Concerns were also raised as Tytus Howard walked gingerly towards the sidelines after dealing with an ankle injury through the week leading up to the game. Luckily for the Texans, he missed only one snap as Roderick Johnson stepped in.
It's interesting to see how Brent Qvale fits in all of this moving forward as Kelemete was the preferred backup at guard and Johnson was the first tackle they called up off the bench. Qvale saw only four snaps on special teams in Week 2 after being active in the season opener, but now seeing any snaps according to Pro Football Reference.
Seems like Qvale will be the reserve that rarely sees any snaps outside of special teams, but will be the offensive lineman the Texans keep active instead of the rookie, Charlie Heck.
Houston is going to need to find answers quickly after an 0-2 start. The defense did its part to try to keep Houston in the game, but they ended up breaking towards the end of the game.
Frustrations were evident with Ross Blacklock getting ejected for throwing an alleged punch late in the fourth quarter. The team can't afford to lose its composure, and that's something that the rookie had to find out the rough way as Watt voiced that sentiment in the postgame press conference.
The only real blemish for the defense is that they weren't able to cause any turnovers for the second consecutive game. There's no way Houston will win any turnover battle if they can't force any.
The Ravens offense challenged the Houston Texans to stop them on fourth down attempts, but the Texans defense failed at every opportunity to get off the field. Ravens went two for two on fourth down attempts to get points on the board and crush the Texans' hope of a comeback.
The Houston Texans offense going for it on 4th and 1 on their own 34 allowed Baltimore to get their first touchdown of the game on a short drive. The concept of going for it on fourth is commendable, but the Texans couldn't afford to make it easy for the Ravens to extend their three-point lead to a 10-0 score.
Texans also decided to not go for it on fourth for the remainder of the game when they needed a touchdown to close the gap. Houston will need to be aggressive when it matters and not put themselves in a position to fail early in the game against a very tough opponent like the Ravens.
The Texans' two turnovers of the games also have to be mentioned in this section. Keke Coutee's fumble forced by Marlon Humphrey in the second quarter hurt the team as L.J. Fort returned it for six points. Houston was down 13-7 before the defensive touchdown put them behind by two scores at 20-7.
Deshaun Watson's interception on the very next drive was a turnover that could've also been prevented if he went with his check-down option in Randall Cobb in the flat.
Marcus Peters abandoned his assignment of covering Cobb near the line of scrimmage to go underneath the attended pass and make the interception. Peters was willing to live with the consequences of giving up the check-down with the opportunity for him to get the defense off the field.
Understandably, Watson always wants to go with the big play first, but those are the plays that he has to take the safe read and get another opportunity to move the offense downfield.
The Texans defense bailed them out after the turnover, and the offense got it right back to score a field goal to close the first half. However, Watson can't put the defense in those types of situations that can be avoided.
The offense fell flat in the second half and only managed to score two field goals in the second half. The offense was shut out in the third quarter for the second consecutive game after putting zero points against the Kansas City Chiefs.
One worrisome sign for the Texans was their lack of trust for their running backs outside of David Johnson. Texans refused to give Gregory Howell and C.J.Prosise any carries for this game, and it leads to questioning whether Houston should look to bring another back with Duke Johnson nursing an ankle injury.
The Ravens rushing attack broke the levee as they finished with 230 rushing yards for the game. Have to give credit where it's due, Ravens have a dominant multi-dimensional running game, but Houston not putting many points on the board allowed the Ravens to chew out the clock in the second half with the game already decided.
Baltimore won the time of possession by almost 10 minutes and those were crucial for Baltimore as they wore the Texans' defense down in the fourth quarter.
According to Sarah Barshop of ESPN, Ravens averaged 6.2 yards per rush before contact in the fourth quarter after averaging 2.7 yards before contact in the first three-quarters of the game.
This game was one the offense will want to forget, but the defense had plenty of good takeaways they can build on as the Houston Texans face the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.
Looking ahead to Week 3
Steelers aren't going to be a pushover for the Houston Texans, but they are a team that the defense should match up better than what they had to face in Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson in the first two weeks.
This team still has a lot they can improve moving forward, and the offense should start getting a picture of what works heading into their third game of the regular season. Talent isn't the issue for the offense. It doesn't help they weren't able to gel properly in the offseason due to the pandemic, and they faced two of the toughest AFC contenders in the Ravens and Chiefs to start the season.
This will be a wake-up call for the Texans and they have to start turning things around if they hope to compete for a playoff bid.