CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 14: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans looks to pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

After an embarassing home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, the Houston Texans were looking for redemption. A chance would come just four days later as the team traveled to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup with the Bengals. Plenty of controversy led up to this game. The Texans decided to start the rookie quarterback with an injured ankle during a short week. All three starting tight ends made the inactive list and no moves were made to bring back Duane Brown to help this dreadful offensive line. Still, the team managed to get an ugly win, but a win nonetheless. Here’s the week two Houston Texans takeaways.

The Rookies Look Good

When you think of the Texans’ rookie class, Deshaun Watson is probably the first name you think of. Watson looked special last night. No doubt, the record breaking 49-yard touchdown scramble was his highlight of the night, but he looked good, all things considered. He had a couple passes fall incomplete that could’ve and should’ve been intercepted, but managed to throw zero true interceptions. Watson looked much better on his deep throws and looked as poised as you can expect him to be behind that line.

D’Onta Foreman is another rookie that looked great last night. His power style of running is definitely going to come in handy for the Texans. With Lamar Miller struggling to move the ball most of the game, Foreman was a breath of fresh air. With the offensive line pretty much taking outside runs out of the playbook, Foreman showed promise powering through the inside runs.

Zach Cunningham also looked good on the defense. Nothing flashy from the young linebacker in his first start, but he was flying to the ball. Finishing your first start with six tackles is nothing to be ashamed of either. These rookies look promising.

Bill O’Brien has taken over the offensive play calling this season and, so far, it’s left a lot to be desired. Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther figured O’Brien’s gameplan out rather quick and it probably wasn’t too difficult. On three separate occasions, the Texans faced a third and one. All three times, O’Brien dialed up an inside run play. All three times, the Bengals blitzed and got the stop.

With the poor play from the offensive line, O’Brien was somewhat forced to run quick passing plays. Slants and screens seemed like the best option for the rookie quarterback but Cincinnati’s defense saw each one coming. With both Watson and Foreman having success on the ground, a read option seemed primed to work but O’Brien didn’t call one until the fourth quarter. Most of the blame for the offensive woes is definitely on the offensive line but the coach isn’t helping with poor play-calling.

Duane Brown is Desperately Needed

The offensive line continued to disappoint last night. Watson was only sacked three times but his ability to scramble is the only reason there weren’t more. The Bengals only sent four players the majority of the game but still got pressure similar to a six or seven man blitz. Xavier Su’a-Filo struggled all game against Geno Atkins, and nobody could handle the left tackle position.

The Texans desperately need to get Duane Brown back at all costs. If Deshaun Watson had a better offensive line to protect him and actually give him time in the pocket, he could do some great things. This needs to be top priority for the Texans’ front office heading into week three.

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