The 4-3 Houston Texans will take on the 4-3 Miami Dolphins tonight on Thursday Night Football. For insight on the Texans and this Thursday night game, we spoke with Jake Asman, who covers the Texans for ESPN 97.5 Houston, and is a National Radio Host for SB Nation Radio. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeAsman. Here’s the Q&A.
Dylan Burd: The Texans started 0-3 including a loss to an atrocious Giants team. Now, they’re 4-3 with a lead in the AFC South. What’s been the cause for this massive turnaround?
Jake Asman: The biggest turnaround for the Texans has been the play of the defense. JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are both finally healthy and are on the field together. Tyrann Mathieu has done a nice job in the secondary and despite squeaking out wins over the Colts, Cowboys, and Bills, last week the Texans finally put it all together and played a complete game.
Dylan Burd: What’s your opinion on the job Bill O’Brien has done this year, and where would you rank him among NFL head coaches?
Jake Asman: I think O’Brien is a mediocre head coach to this point and I would give him an incomplete for this year. He’s limited by how poor his offensive line is, but he was given an extension based on six games of Deshaun Watson last year and we haven’t seen anything innovative with Deshaun all season. The Red Zone issues have been the reason behind the 0-3 start and the inconsistent play on offense all year and that ultimately falls on him. I don’t think O’Brien is a bad coach, but we need to see more and with how wide open the division is, the Texans with the best QB in the division (not named Andrew Luck who’s team is out of it) should win the division if O’Brien wants to earn his contract extension from the offseason.
Dylan Burd: The story of Deshaun Watson playing through severe injuries while winning 4 straight games has gone very far under the radar. He was driven 10 hours to play in Jacksonville because he couldn’t fly, and ended up winning the game! What’s your take on all of this?
Jake Asman: Deshaun Watson still in his career has only played 13 games. People forget he is still basically finishing up what would be a “rookie” season in football. The line has been an issue all year and he’s had to work around it and make plays on the move and take a ton of hits. I don’t think anyone will question Deshaun’s toughness or his commitment to winning after what he’s had to already gone through this year.
Dylan Burd: What’s your opinion on the Dolphins right now, and what are the keys to the Texans winning this football game against them?
Jake Asman: I think Miami is a very mediocre team in a weak AFC. Miami will benefit from playing the Jets and Bills 4 times, but I don’t think they are anything special. I don’t trust either of their QBs and looking at the talent on the actual roster it’s not a team that is a serious threat in the AFC. For the Texans to win I think the biggest thing is the execution in the Red Zone which has been the biggest issue besides the offensive line all year. Deshaun Watson has to take care of the football and if the Texans don’t beat themselves this should be a very winnable game at home.
Dylan Burd: A non-Texans question since you cover other Houston sports as well… What did you think of the Chris Paul-Rajon Rondo fight? We’re the suspensions handed down appropriate?
Jake Asman: I thought the NBA got it wrong with the suspensions. I didn’t think Chris Paul deserved to be suspended because he acted in self defense after Rondo clearly spit on him. I don’t know what the NBA expects another man to do when someone spits on them? Not do anything at all!? I thought Paul acted how anyone would act in that spot.
Dylan Burd: Back to the Texans… Where would you rank Hopkins among other NFL wide receivers?
Jake Asman: Before I started covering the team every day I obviously knew Hopkins was one of the best WR’s in the league, but watching him every day you really get to see how special he is. He’s QB proof. For him to put up the numbers he has in his career with the QBs outside of Deshaun Watson for 13 games that he’s played with is actually absurd. I think Hopkins is either the best or the 2nd best WR in the league. He can do everything so well on the field and he’s shown the ability to make a big time play in a big moment of the game. He’s helped win the Texans two games in OT with big catches already this year.
Dylan Burd: Score prediction for Thursday Night Football?
Jake Asman: The Texans are at home. I like to lean with the home team on Thursday Night Football because of how hard it is to prepare to play. The Texans can’t afford to lose to Brock Osweiler plus Miami’s receivers are banged up, so I think this is a favorable matchup for Houston. Give me the Texans 23-13.