NFL Nation: 2013 Week 17 HOU at TEN Rapid Reaction
December, 29, 2013
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rapid reaction from the Tennessee Titans' 16-10 win over the Houston Texans at LP Field.
What it means: The Titans finish the season 7-9 with a two-game winning streak against the two worst teams in the AFC South, Jacksonville and Houston. The record is a one-game improvement over last season but a far cry from the pledge of dramatic improvement the team made as it built for 2013. The Titans finish four games off the pace of AFC South winner Indianapolis.
Stock watch: Running back Chris Johnson ran hard and ran well in what might have been his last game with the team. He was clearly motivated to reach 1,000 yards and has now done so in his first six seasons, an impressive streak. He’s just the sixth NFL back to reach 1,000 yards in his first six seasons. He topped 100 yards for just the second time this season with 127 on 27 carries.
Stumbling: Left guard Andy Levitre had a rough day, getting pushed backward by a variety of Texans, including Antonio Smith and Earl Mitchell. His knee issue from last season meant he missed the offseason after he signed with Tennessee, never got his strength back, and he’s hardly been the player the Titans had expected. I expect a giant jump next season, but Year 1 was poor. Chris Spencer finished the game at left guard as Levitre was hobbled.
What’s next: Titans head coach Mike Munchak will address the media in a season wrap-up news conference Monday. His fate will be determined in the days after that, and we should get a verdict on him from president and CEO Tommy Smith by the end of the week.
December, 29, 2013
By Tania Ganguli | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thoughts from the Houston Texans' 16-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans:
What it means: The Texans win ... the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. It's not a great year to have it, but Sunday's loss ensures that the Texans can get exactly whom they want in April. Texans general manager Rick Smith is spending bowl season scouting quarterbacks of a deep class without a clear-cut sure thing.
Stock watch: There were rumblings after bad plays during our in-game chat that clearly this player or that player was doing his best to get the Texans the top pick in the draft. Once it happened after the Texans' offense stalled on the first drive of the game. Here's why that doesn't make sense: Matt Schaub's fate with the Texans didn't depend on this game, but it could certainly affect his future elsewhere. There was no pick-six against the Titans this time, but he threw one interception and lost a fumble. Schaub didn't have any passing yards in the third quarter and had just two passing attempts. Schaub's body language showed his frustration both after the fumble and at other points late in the game. The Texans' last offensive play was an interception by Schaub.
Watt returns to double digits: With a third-quarter sack on Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt reached double-digit sacks for the second straight season. With 10.5 sacks this season, Watt became the second player in franchise history to reach double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons, following Mario Williams, who had at least 10 sacks in 2007 and 2008. According to the Texans, his total for his first three seasons of 36.5 sacks moves him beyond Jevon Kearse and Anthony Smith (36.0) into seventh place all time. Watt had 20.5 sacks last season. He likes to set lofty goals and was aiming for 20 sacks, 20 batted passes and 20 additional tackles for loss this year. It didn't happen, but nobody who watched can deny that Watt remained a big problem for opponents this fall.
What's next: The Texans need to hire a head coach next and could have that finished early in the week. Once that's done, they'll turn their attention more firmly to reshaping the roster.