Here's my take on the game:
To begin, I turned the game off at halftime because I smelled this loss coming a mile away. Actually, win or lose, I figured watching a field goal competition of a wretched team against a struggling, banged up team should not take precedence over time with my wife and daughter. But I did follow the game online with about five minutes to go, and I must say that I didn't need to watch one snap in order to come to the conclusion that the officiating was utterly disgraceful. Putrid would be complimentary. The officiating was so over-the-top anti-Texans that there should be an investigation launched. After the shameful NBA referee scandal about five years ago, it would not surprise me to learn that a ref or two is on the take to help another team secure Andrew Luck. Hey, its a wild conspiracy theory, but many people do many stupid things for money. In all likelihood the officials simply stunk and I should probably check myself for going over the top with such an insinuation. Still, the officials cost the Texans this ballgame, but sadly, the Texans shouldn't have allowed the game to be close enough for the incompetence of officials to determine the outcome.
So whether the Texans got whistled for eleven penalties or twenty, they should not have lost to the Indianapolis Colts. In fact, I'm guessing that most Colts fans left the stadium scratching their heads and wondering whether they should be proud or furious at their football team for winning this game. Clearly, this is the most embarrassing loss in Texans history for the simple fact that the Texans not only faced the worst team in the league and came in with ample motivation to win in statement fashion, but they faced a team whose desire many would question what with Andrew Luck on the line.
On to the game and why this team is struggling so mightily. Arian Foster effortlessly ran for 158 yards and the defense was toying with Indianapolis for over three quarters. How in the world do you lose a game like this? And on the ONLY national television appearance all season!? I'll make a list of the chief culprits why the Texans are averaging ten points less per game over the past five games, and why they are struggling to handle even lottery teams. But first, let me mention that before anyone drops an anvil on the defense for giving up that ridiculous Dan Orlovsky-led game winning drive with zero timeouts, consider how gassed they must've been after staying on the field all night. The Texans' offense is the reason this team looks awful on both sides of the ball. Last game it was turnovers, this game it was due to an imaginary game of ultra-conservative chess played by Kubiak and a shaky rookie quarterback.
Gary Kubiak's game management and play calling needs to be questioned. It used to be that only his demeanor and challenges were questions, but rarely his offensive repertoire. But clearly he seems to be playing it conservatively with Yates. These little check down option passes to Foster and Daniels are nice when sprinkled throughout an entire game like a little parsley, or even as an escape valve, but as your go to passing play, well, its for the freaking birds. An average Division I college team could hold the Texans to field goals nowadays. All you've gotta do is bring an eight man front to put slight heat on Yates and watch him get sacked or dump a three yard screen to a back. The bottom line is that players ultimately have to make the plays and the coaches can only be blamed for so much, but this football team does not look good the past couple of games, and I'm not sure even Bill Cowher or Bill Belichek would look so savvy with a team missing Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Mario Williams, Matt Leinart and on and on and on. I like Gary Kubiak and love him as a man. But he needs to throw some monkeys in the wrench and get radical next game.
T.J. Yates may have a bright future, but he appears more and more in over his head with each passing week and with each dumbing down of the competition. That, my friends, does not bode well for the upcoming playoffs. He has looked eerily like a shell-shocked David Carr the way he froze in the pocket to take sacks the past couple of games. I thought he was a mobile quarterback? But in fairness to Yates and even to Kubiak, this offense has been figured out. Not the offense with Matt Schaub at the helm and Andre Johnson stretching the field, mind you. In fact, Schaub's goodness and Johnson's greatness are clearly being showcased in their absense. Let me emphatically state that I like T.J. Yates very, very much, and I think he's done an admirable job. The fact remains is he's a fifth round rookie thrown to the wolves late in the season. He gets a pass no matter what happens, but Kubiak and his teammates need to be careful with his confidence.
Pay very close attention to what I write because its the healthiest dose of Houston Texans NFL truth you will swallow today. Had Andre Johnson been healthy the past couple of weeks, the Texans would be sitting pretty at 12-3. I repeat, simply missing Johnson has cost the last two ballgames. With Johnson in the lineup, at least one of those field goals in each of the past two games become touchdowns. Heck, even if Johnson does not have more than a couple of catches per game, the doubles he draws provides even more creases for Foster and Tate. Andre Johnson, you are one great football player and this team desperately must have you back in uniform for the Tennessee game. He must suit up in that game to prepare for the playoff game.
Matt Schaub may have earned the monicker "stilts" by me for his lack of mobility, but even the casual fan could only imagine his stats this season had he remained in uniform. Last night he would've shredded that hapless Colts secondary, not to mention Carolina's. While Yates puts up 150 per against those teams, Schaub puts up 400. Take that to the truth bank as well. Clearly, CLEARLY this team misses Schaub and Johnson. Schaub keeps his defense off the field to stay seated and hydrated for late game locking down. In fact, I'll go ahead and throw a would coulda at you. Had Schaub and Johnson suited up the past two games, here are what your final scores would have been:
If its made of whole wheat, enjoyed with strawberry preserves and butter at breakfast, it is either toast or it is Kareem Jackson. In fairness, he has played much better this season, but lately he has been targeted and given up big plays. Hopefully Wade Phillips back on the sideline, something, ANYTHING, will snap him out of this recent mini funk.
Don't just give this man the Coach of the Year award, heck, give him the Player of the Year award. Wade, I know you just had surgery, but is there any way you can be on the sidelines for the Tennessee game, even if they have to roll you out on a gurney?
And now for some deep-breath perspective on what's been a very good season:
I am as embarrassed as any fan over the loss at Indianapolis. But in no way does this tarnish the luster of what has been a mission accomplished type of season. At the outset, on the morning of September 11th, like most fans I stated that the overwhelming goal for this team is playoffs. Not division title, not X number of wins, but simply squeaking into the playoffs. That, my friends, has been accomplished, and its been accomplished by a team missing its two best offensive players (include Arian to make that three), not to mention its best defensive player. Foster has missed games, Johnson has missed the majority of the season, and Schaub has been lost for a critical stretch. Mario Williams has missed most of the season. Undoubtedly, we don't want the Texans to lose against Tennessee then get hammered at home in the first round of the playoffs, but the bottom line is this team won its division and has qualified for the playoffs.
Now, the temptation here is to passionately fuel my dismay and forecast gloom and doom, but I actually think that the Texans bounce back ferociously next week against Tennessee, then I expect them to lose a very close game at home in the playoffs, and all in all, the Texans will receive props for a very good season, a very, very bright future and fans will realize that considering the injuries incurred, this team has really done a great job.
Let's hope that the Texans can put this Indianapolis loss behind them and regroup for the Tennessee game, which is ten days away. Let's also hope that Andre Johnson suits up!