Wondrous Watson’s biggest obstacle in Houston remains his own coach

There is one NFL coach who has figured out how to stop wunderkind Houston Texans rookie Deshaun Watson.

Unfortunately, that coach is his own – Bill O’Brien.

Watson had a game for the ages Sunday in Seattle in just his sixth NFL start, becoming the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards, four touchdowns and rush for 50 yards in an NFL game.

Richard Sherman told Watson it was the best game a quarterback has played against the Seahawks defense and he noted they’ve played all the legends.

The only downer in this story is that Watson and the Texans lost 41-38 to Russell Wilson, who also threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns.

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Five things to watch: NFL Week 8

Five things I’ll be looking at in the eighth week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. What was expected to be an interesting game between 3-3 Houston and 4-2 Seattle took on new significance in the wake of Texans’ owner Bob McNair’s inmate comments.

It’s uncertain if the Texans plan a pre-game protest. And whether the uproar will become a distraction that will affect their play. It could pull them apart or make them come together.

Either way, the game will now get a lot of attention.

2. Atlanta at 3-3 will be attempting to snap a three-game losing streak when it goes to the 3-4 New York Jets.

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McNair’s boneheaded comment another unforced NFL ownership error

“Don’t you see, you’re the cattle and we’re the ranchers,’’ former Dallas Cowboys president Tex Schramm told former NFLPA head Gene Upshaw during the 1987 strike.

Schramm’s comments are worth remembering in light of the controversy over Houston Texans owner Bob McNair saying they can’t let the inmates run the prison during a meeting in New York earlier this month.

Once the comment was included in an ESPN the Magazine story on the meeting, there was a firestorm. The uproar transcended sports and was reported in network TV newscasts.

The Houston players threatened to walk out Friday, although veteran DeAndre Hopkins and rookie D’Onta Foreman were apparently the only ones who did.

Coach Bill O’Brien and general manager Rick Smith were left to clean up the mess with the players and convinced the rest of them to stay for practice. O’Brien then said that Hopkins was taking a “personal day,’’ as if NFL players take personal days during the season unless there is a family emergency.

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Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 7

Five observations on the seventh weekend of the 2017 NFL season:

1. The number 10,363 will be remembered in pro football history like 73-0 – a number we will never see again.

Joe Thomas played 10,363 consecutive snaps until the streak was snapped Sunday with a triceps injury and ended his season. The shame is he did it for the today’s version of the Cleveland Browns, who are 0-7 and 1-22 the last two years. He should have had a chance to play for the Paul Brown Cleveland Browns.

Now the question is whether Thomas will retire next year or come back from his triceps injury. Whenever he retires, he’ll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

2. In just his second season, quarterback Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles is reaching elite status.

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Elway still looking hopeless at picking quarterbacks

I pointed out back in August that John Elway didn’t have a good track record in judging quarterbacks.

As it turns out, his quarterback decisions have turned out to be even worse than I thought they would and it is a major reason why the Denver Broncos season is quickly falling apart.

Since he’s been running the Broncos, Elway’s made only one good quarterback move. He talked Peyton Manning into signing with the Broncos after the Colts cut him to make room for Andrew Luck.

And while Manning was winding up his career with two Super Bowl appearances, you would think Elway would have been planning for the future at the position after Manning retired.

Elway did build a great defense, but he’s whiffed on every quarterback move he’s made except for signing Manning and understanding Tim Tebow wasn’t the answer.

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Five things to watch: NFL Week 7

Five things I’ll be looking at in the seventh week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. Can the Patriots shake off their stupor?

It’s not surprising that the New England Patriots-Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl rematch will be in prime time. It is one of the best attractions of the season. Adding an interesting sidelight is the fact the Falcons, who blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl, blew a 17-0 halftime lead to Miami last week.

But the surprising thing is that the Patriots come into this game with more issues than the Falcons, and an Atlanta win would be no surprise.

Matt Ryan put up 28 points against the Patriots defense in the Super Bowl and the Patriots defense was better last year. Every quarterback the Patriots have faced this year has thrown for over 300 yards, and Bill Belichick’s offseason moves are being questioned.

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Declining TV ratings could be the new normal for the NFL

The continued drop in NFL TV ratings has been one of the biggest stories of the first half of the season.

But the drop may not be as big a problem as it first appears, based on an interesting statistic pointed out by NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart on a conference call Friday.

The Oakland Raiders-Kansas City Chiefs game drew an 8.8 rating on CBS Thursday night. The combined rating for the shows on NBC, ABC and Fox was 8.8.

That’s a combined rating of 17.6, meaning that 17.6 percent of all TV sets in the country tuned into network programming.

And 82.4 percent of all TV sets were either turned off or watching cable.

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