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10 observations from the Texans game...According to Hoyle

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Jamie Hoyle is back with his ten observations from Sunday's game in Houston...and some of what he has to say might surprise you.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Just when you think you have the 2016 Chargers figured out, they win a crucial road game against a divisional leader.  That's what happened in Houston on Sunday as the Bolts used an explosive passing game, a relentless pass rush, and four more turnovers to eek out an important 21-13 victory over the AFC South-leading Texans.  But what, if anything, can we take away from that win?

Let's take a look at my ten observations from Sunday's game to see what, if anything, we learned that could be applied to the rest of the 2016 season and beyond...

Ken Whisenhunt was masterful in expanding Dontrelle Inman's role in the passing game. After weeks of dinking-and-dunking the ball to Inman on third down, Wis unleashed his third-year receiver in the deep and intermediate passing game.  We saw post routes, deep crossers and one gorgeous hook-and-go route that led to a 52-yard touchdown. It was a nice wrinkle by the Chargers OC, and it clearly caught the Texans off guard.  Now if only they could get Hunter Henry involved...

Inman is growing before our eyes. As I've pointed out before, Dontrelle has played a key role as a third-down safety valve since the second Denver game.  He did that again on Sunday, but not on the underneath routes we've become accustomed to seeing from him.  This time he expanded his route tree with more deep and intermediate routes and also showed growth as a route runner with the double move he used to break Will Demps' ankles on his way to a 52-yard touchdown reception.  It isn't ridiculous to think he's forcing his way into a larger role in 2017...

It's time for Travis Benjamin to either step up or sit down. Having already lost his punt return duties, Benjamin has taken to jogging out routes, going to great lengths to avoid getting hit at all costs, and generally half-assing everything he's asked to do on the field.  I officially had enough on Sunday when he pulled up on a deep route in anticipation of getting blown up by the safety bearing down on him.  In fact, the only time he's going full speed is when he's trying to get out of bounds to avoid a hit.  I realize he's "toughing out" a PCL injury, but this can't be what the Chargers expected to get for $6M per year...

For once the offensive line wasn't quite so offensive. I'll be honest; I didn't think the Chargers could block the Texans front seven with or without JJ Watt.  In fact, I fully expected Philip Rivers to take a pounding.  To their credit, the line played a pretty solid game and was very reliable in pass protection outside of a couple of breakdowns.  The running game still isn't where it should be, but the play of the big uglies played a crucial role in keeping Rivers upright and allowing him to execute the offensive game plan.  Nice work, boys...

Pop quiz, hot shot - it's third and one, you lead by 11 with 3:17 left in the fourth quarter and your opposition just burned their last time out...what do you do? Obviously, you call a time out of your own.  I honestly can't make this up.  But do you know why they called a time out?  Because apparently, even after the Houston timeout, they didn't have the correct personnel on the field, as evidenced by the fact that Derek Watt and Kenny Wiggins came on the field with the trainers after the Chargers called their time out.  In other words, the Bolts lined up to run the same play twice in about :60 and still couldn't get the proper personnel on the field.  Like I said, I can't make this sh*t up...

Joey Bosa floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. I knew Bosa's advanced hand technique and raw power would translate at this level, but even I didn't realize just how nimble and athletic he is.  His ability to cut laterally, navigate traffic and change directions without losing even the slightest bit of speed is uncanny, and it was all on full display as he racked up seven tackles (4 solo), two tackles for loss, five hurries, and a half sack.  That's what a dominant 5-technique looks like, but go ahead, tell me again you can't use stats to measure the effectiveness of a defensive end...

Kudos to John Pagano for scheming ways to hide/disguise the loss of Brandon Mebane. I'm not what you'd call a John Pagano fan, but I thought he did a fantastic job of game planning for Houston.  He rotated Damian Square and Corey Liuget at nose tackle, dialed up repeated run blitzes on first and second down, and routinely walked Jaleel Addae into the box as the eighth run defender.  The Texans weren't ready for it, and it showed as the Chargers limited Lamar Miller to 57 yards on 19 carries, a number which was helped dramatically by a 20-yard run...

Can Casey Hayward play wide receiver? No, seriously, can he?  Another game and another interception for Hayward, who jumped a late throw along the sideline, showing superior ball skills and outstanding body control in tight quarters in the process.  I'm not sure any of the Chargers receivers have shown that level of ball skills or body control all year, and Casey just keeps making one big play after another.  As critical as I've been of Tom Telesco's free agent moves, the man deserves a ton of credit for stealing Casey away from the Packers...

The turnover train just keeps chugging along. I said it a few weeks ago, and I'll say it again, I am legitimately excited to watch this defense play from week to week.  Without Jason Verrett, Jatavis Brown or Brandon Mebane, the Chargers used an active front seven and aggressive secondary play to force four more turnovers Sunday, extending their streak of forcing a turnover in every game this season and increasing their season total to 23 (#2 in the NFL).  Imagine what this group could look like in 2017 with improved health and another solid draft class...

Jahleel Addae and Dwight Lowery played a solid game. Look, neither guy will be confused with Ed Reed or Sean Taylor anytime soon, but let's give credit where it's due and acknowledge the roles they played in this win.  Addae was all over the field as what amounted to the fifth linebacker on run downs, made a few key third down stops and finished with eight tackles (6 solo).  Lowery forced a fumble after a long catch-and-run by Lamar Miller, played catch with Brock Osweiler on a horribly overthrown ball over the middle, and recorded four tackles of his own.  I don't want either of them anywhere near this team next year, but they made some solid contributions on Sunday...

I honestly can't figure this team out.  One week they turn the ball over four times in the fourth quarter in a crushing home loss to the Dolphins and, of course, two weeks later they venture to Houston and beat a division-leading Texans team.  I have to admit the coaches did a nice job of game planning and preparing the team for this game, and for the most part, the players executed that plan quite well.  While I still believe the playoffs are out of reach regardless of how the team finishes, I'm looking forward to watching players like Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Korey Toomer, Trevor Williams, Jatavis Brown, Hunter Henry and Joey Bosa continue to progress with an eye toward 2017.

That's it; those are my takeaways from the Texans game.  Let me know what you think in the comments section...