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Opposing Viewpoint: 5 Questions (and Answers) About Texans

After a unique start to the week, the Vikings are now fully focused on Sunday's game in Houston.

Minnesota is also still looking for its first win. After a better team effort in Week 3, the Vikings are looking for a little more from all three phases in order to avoid an 0-4 start.

But what are some key storylines from the other side?

To find that out, chatted with Texans reporter Deepi Sidhu for a glance at what Tennessee is thinking before Sunday's game.

Here is the Week 4 edition of Opposing Viewpoint:

The Texans are 0-3 but have played three great teams in the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers, who have a combined record of 8-1. Have the three losses been a byproduct of playing good teams, or is there a glaring issue that stands out that the team needs to fix from the 0-3 start?

DS: It's definitely been a tough three-game schedule to start the season, with a trio of some of the best quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Ben Roethlisberger running some high-powered offenses. But the defensive fronts have been equally tough. Still, the Texans have had their own issues through the first three games. They've gotten behind early, struggling to sustain drives and get their run game going, and the turnover differential has also not played in Houston's favor. The Texans have had a turnover in each of their three games without recording a single takeaway so far in 2020.

In Week 3 at Pittsburgh, the Texans played complementary football, on offense, defense and special teams, and had a 21-17 lead at halftime. Deshaun Watson got off to a fast start, completing 14 of 18 passes for 202 yards, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 150.5 passer rating through the first half against Pittsburgh. Houston's defense held Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh to just one field goal in the third quarter and forced a three-and-out on consecutive drives. However, after forcing a takeaway, the Steelers scored the go-ahead touchdown to regain the lead. The Texans need to play like they did in the first half, but maintain it for all 60 minutes.

On the flip side, what's a positive sign from the team (or a player) through the first few weeks of the season?

DS: The Texans have shown flashes of greatness when they are clicking. For instance, the offense had a beautiful, two-minute drive right before the half against Pittsburgh. Watson completed all five of his passes for 75 yards in just 50 seconds to cap off a drive that ended in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller V. Trailing 17-14 with 1:14 left in the half, Watson was surgical, completing passes for eight, 18, 20 and 15 yards to Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Jordan Akins and Cobb again.

Vikings fans don't get to see Deshaun Watson play that often. But what makes the quarterback — who signed a big contract extension just before the season started — so special in your eyes?

DS: Since his first start on Thursday Night Football in Cincinnati in 2017, Watson has always had a confidence and poise about himself. The game is never too big for him, the lights never too bright. He finds a way to extend the play with his legs, and it's never over as long as he's got the ball in his hands. Last year against the Raiders, he was kicked in the eye, couldn't see and still delivered a strike to tight end Darren Fells for a game-winning touchdown.

In overtime of the AFC Wild Card game last year, Watson found a way to Houdini himself out of the grasp of multiple Bills defenders to complete a first-down throw to Taiwan Jones. That play set up the Texans for the game-winning field goal and his first career playoff win. Watson is a leader and he instantly had the respect of his teammates, even veterans like J.J. Watt, for his play in college and his ability to make plays, his toughness, his ability to learn from his mistakes and be a leader in that locker room.

The Vikings offense finally got going in Week 3, as both Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson had career games. What did the Texans defense say this week about going up against that double threat?

DS: Bill O'Brien and J.J. Watt both had high praise for Dalvin Cook for his speed, quickness and excellent vision. The Texans have struggled against the run, and Cook will be a main focus for the defense. Watt said that facing Cook would be "a challenge that we look forward to accepting." Defensive Coordinator Anthony Weaver said the priority this week is to limit Cook's rushing yardage and to combat big-play threats like Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

"It's a very, very difficult challenge," O'Brien said. 'We're going to have to do a good job of fundamental football. Setting the edge, playing good gap control and then tackling. If he gets into the secondary or gets around the edge, he's got great speed, so you're going to have an issue. We have to do a great job."

Obviously, the Texans have never faced rookie Justin Jefferson, but he's definitely gaining attention with that breakout game against Tennessee. O'Brien and the Texans do have some familiarity with his style, having studied him during the draft process.

"Definitely studied him a lot," O'Brien said. "He's an excellent player. He's having a really good rookie year. Him and Adam Thielen – those are two really, really good players. Thielen being a veteran receiver and just a very productive receiver and then Justin's come in as a rookie – to play receiver like that as a rookie is really, really difficult. He's doing a great job and he's going to be hard to handle."

And finally, Bill O'Brien was hired in 2014, the same season Mike Zimmer. They will coach their 100*th*regular-season games with their teams on Sunday. After winning four division titles in six seasons, including 2018 after an 0-3 start, how is he trying to rally this year's team?

DS: Well, no two seasons are alike, but O'Brien has been asked about that other 0-3 start (the Texans went on to win nine games in a row and made NFL history as just one of a handful of teams to overcome 0-3 to make the playoffs) back in 2018. It's not the same team, O'Brien notes. The Texans certainly know that every season is different, and you can't rely on a nine-game win streak to turn things around. However, they know they have the talent but they need to play with consistency and just work. O'Brien's philosophy after a loss is to just get back to work, clean up the mistakes and have a solid week of preparation and practice. Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly wants to achieve more balance between the run and pass, and Defensive Coordinator Anthony Weaver is dedicated to stopping the run and forcing turnovers. The seasons may be different, but the philosophy in 2018 and in 2020 is the same, just take it one day, one week, one game at a time, stacking good days every day. It's been a strange offseason, but the Texans have shown improvement each week. They just need to put it all together for a full 60 minutes.