Texans host Jaguars in first game post-O’Brien
In the aftermath of Houston Texans coach/general manager Bill O’Brien receiving a pink slip this week, rumors of internal unrest inside NRG Stadium were guaranteed to find the light of day.
The Texans (0-4) will host the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) Sunday in dire need of a victory — and something to change the narrative engulfing their ragged start.
Almost immediately after O’Brien was fired, reports surfaced that five-time All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt got into a heated argument with O’Brien at practice two weeks ago and that the argument served as the moment the team got away from O’Brien.
“I don’t know,” Watt said when asked if the reported confrontation contributed to the O’Brien dismissal. “I’m not going to talk about what happened at practice or what conversations were had or whatever it may be. The situation is what the situation is. We right now have a fresh start and we had a good practice (Wednesday). We’re looking forward to Jacksonville.”
Romeo Crennel, who served as defensive coordinator before moving into an associate coaching role, was named the interim head coach. He is familiar with the top job, having served in that capacity with the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs. The circumstances yielding this promotion aren’t ideal, but the Texans recognize that Crennel is experienced in the role.
While the Texans have their share of issues defensively, ranking 27th with 126 points allowed while having yet to force a turnover, unlocking quarterback Deshaun Watson is the foremost priority. Nothing statistically points to a clear regression, but Watson has yet to consistently flash the dynamism that underscored his back-to-back Pro Bowl selections in 2018 and last season.
Fundamental to helping Watson is getting an anemic running attack going. The Texans rank dead last in the NFL with 294 rushing yards.
“I think that we would like for Deshaun to be who we know he can be,” Crennel said. “We’re going to work to try to make that happen. I think that you’re correct that if we can provide him with some tools, and the running game being part of it, that will help make him better. We’re going to put an emphasis on our technique and fundamentals and try to get our running game going.”
The Jaguars got banged up against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday and saw five players injured in the 33-25 loss miss practice Wednesday — defensive end Josh Allen (knee), cornerbacks D.J. Hayden (hamstring) and CJ Henderson (shoulder), linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) and left tackle Cam Robinson (knee). Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone remained hopeful that everyone excluding Hayden could participate against the Texans this weekend.
Hayden was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
The Jaguars have dropped three consecutive games. With their bloated injury list — three others missed practice Wednesday — and a defense that ranks in the bottom 10 in points and yards allowed, Jacksonville is in no position to take the rudderless Texans lightly.
“We’ve got enough turmoil going on our own,” Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II said. “We’ve got to figure our (expletive) out first. So, hey, we’re fired up and we’re ready to go.”
–Field Level Media