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The Captain's Log 2015, Game 4: "Evisceration" (Texans v. Falcons)

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Capt Ron chronicles the Texans' historic loss to the Atlanta Falcons and reviews the latest from around the AFC South. Join the conversation at Battle Red Blog.

Simply stunned
Simply stunned
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Let's keep this simple.  It was a bad game in every possible way imaginable.  The Texans continue to struggle in the same areas week after week.  Did the roster have too much turnover to maintain continuity from last year?

Is the defense too complicated? Houston's defense was looking pretty solid at the tail-end of last season, but now they are struggling mightily.  Have these particular players just not had enough time together yet?  How many games until they mesh and play better?  Are the assignments just too complex?  What the hell is the issue?  The defensive backs can't cover, and the linebackers and safeties can't stop the run.  Why?  If you look at other teams, their defensive backs are draped all over receivers in tight coverage.  Houston can have the best pass-rushing front-seven in history, but it means nothing if the quarterback can get the ball out to an open receiver a fraction of a second after it is snapped.

Is the offense too complicated? We keep seeing major disconnections between the quarterback(s) and receivers on far too many plays, where the receivers are running a completely different route than the quarterback expected.  When they are on the same page, the ball is either poorly thrown, or the receiver doesn't catch it when it is on target.

Bill O'Brien and Romeo Crennel both have major issues to resolve schematically.  These players are simply unable to execute their assignments.

The only silver lining in all of this is that Houston has played three of the four NFC teams on their schedule, and two of them are 4-0.  The Texans' 1-3 start has less of an impact with respect to playoff standings than if these losses were all AFC teams.  Their next four games "could" be winnable and are far more meaningful. The Colts (2-2) look incredibly bad.  The Jaguars (1-3) look average, and the Titans (1-2) are getting a rookie quarterback up to speed.  The Dolphins (1-3) look like one of the worst teams in the AFC--and so do the Texans--, and have just fired head coach Joe Philbin.  These next four games "should" all be winnable and would get Houston to a 5-3 record at the bye-week.

The Texans need to shake off this miserable four-game start to the season, take a deep breath, and start playing football.  They need to execute better, plain and simple.  This game against the Colts on Thursday could be the game that makes, or breaks, their season.

GO TEXANS!

Summary of Key Stats

TEXANS FALCONS
First Downs 24 22
Net Rushing Yards 54 135
Net Passing Yards 374 243
Total Net Yards 428 378
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 12/27-0-1 (Mallett) 19/27-1-0
Passing ATT-COMP-TD-INT 17/30-2-0 (Hoyer)
Third Down Efficiency 7/15 (46%) 9/16 (56%)
Touchdowns 3 7
Field Goals (made/attempted) 0 / 1 0 / 0
Extra Points  (made/attempted) 3 / 3 6 / 7
Kicking  (made/attempted) 3 / 3 6 / 6
Two Point Conversions  (made/attempted) 0 / 0 0 / 0
Fumbles / Lost 3 / 3 0 / 0
Turnovers (lost) 4 0
Penalties (QTY / Yards) 5 - 35 10 - 80
Sacks (defense) 2 1
Interceptions (defense) 0 1
Fumbles Recovered (defense) 0 3
Time of Possession 24:08 35:52
Red Zone Efficiency 3/4 (75%) 4/4 (100%)
Goal To Go Efficiency 2/3 (66%) 1/1 (100%)
Points From Turnovers 0 21
FINAL SCORE 21 48

Around the AFC South...

The Colts (2-2)

Andrew Luck was out with a shoulder injury, and Matt Hasselbeck made his first start since 2012, going 30-47 for 282 yards and 1 touchdown.  They narrowly won thanks to Jacksonville missing two field goals.

The Colts head to Houston for a Thursday night game this week.

The Jaguars (1-3)

Blake Bortles was 28-50 for 298 yards and 1 touchdown, T.J. Yeldon rushed for 102 yards, and Allen Hurns caught 11 passes for 116 yards and 1 TD.  That should have been good enough for a win, but kicker Jason Myers missed two attempts to sink the Jaguars in a three-point loss.

Jacksonville will head to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (1-3), who just suffered a loss to the 4-0 Carolina Panthers as rookie quarterback Jameis Winston threw 4 interceptions.  That makes 11 consecutive home losses for the Bucs!  They'll be looking to right that ship against the visiting Jags on Sunday.

The Titans (1-2)

They enjoyed an early bye-week and will host the Bills (2-2) on Sunday.

Sick Bay

"I'm a physician, not a witch doctor"

INJURY STATUS THIS GAME

LB - Akeem Dent: Hamstring

RB - Jonathan Grimes: Knee

S - Lonnie Ballentine: Knee

UPDATED POST-GAME

WR - Nate Washington: Hamstring

WR - Cecil Shorts III: Shoulder

DB - Kareem Jackson: Concussion

Movie Quote (name it):

"Look! We've figured it seventeen different ways, and every time we figured it, it was no good, because no matter how we figured it, somebody don't like the way we figured it!  So now, there's only one way to figure it.  And that is, every man, including the old bag, for himself!"

Bravo Zulu - DeAndre Hopkins

100px-bravo_flag 100px-zulu_flag

(Bravo Zulu is a naval signal, conveyed by flag hoist or vocal, for "Well Done")

Notwithstanding the dumpster fire around him, Hopkins continued to focus on what he could control and hauled in 9 receptions for 157 yards.  He was a few inches away from scoring a touchdown when he barely stepped out of bounds before the ball was caught in the end zone.

Stories From The Brig

After collecting penalties in two consecutive games to start the 2015 season, Eddie Pleasant was surprisingly not flagged for any penalties in the tilt against Tampa Bay.  He made up for it with THREE penalties in this game against Atlanta--illegal use of hands (15 yards), defensive holding (5 yards), and unnecessary roughness (10 yards).  Pleasant now leads the team with five penalties in just four games.

I could fill this section with more examples of players doing things that contributed to the loss, but let's just move on.

Movie Quote II (a/k/a the hint)

"I don't think you have to worry too much about that. My wife is divorcing me, my mother-in-law is suing me for damages, my daughter is applying to the courts to have her name changed, my pension has been revoked. And the only reason that you 10 idiots will very LIKELY get off LIGHTLY is because the judge will have me up there to throw the book at!"

(SPOILER: Although this might fit any one of the Texans players as a passionate outburst to his teammates, it is in-fact a movie quote.)

Liberty Call!

After a horrible performance, and heading into a very short week leading up to a Thursday night game, there is no time for recreation for the Houston Texans.  Instead, let's take a moment and raise a couple of thumbs for the Houston Astros for making the playoffs!  Ugh!  There you go, you miserable team on Kirby, you went and drove me into the waiting arms of baseball for the first time in decades.

Ship's Galley

Let's go below deck and see what the chef has for us this week...

Venezuelan Empanadas

We could all use some good comfort food after such a rough start to the season.  These are fantastic for entertaining at a game-watching party or tailgating at the stadium THIS Thursday before a night game.  Recipe is courtesy of Food Network:

INGREDIENTS

For the Filling:
1 1/2 pounds beef blade roast, cut into 4 pieces, trimmed
4 bay leaves
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 scallion, chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons sazon completa (Spanish seasoning blend, found in the spice aisle)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Freshly ground pepper
For the Dough:
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for greasing and frying
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups precooked cornmeal (such as P.A.N. brand)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Sauce:
1 1/4 cups cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
4 teaspoons white vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Make the filling:

Place the beef, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon salt and water to cover in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is almost falling apart, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and shred with a fork; cool. Reserve the broth.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and shallot; cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion, paprika, sazon completa, oregano, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and 1 cup of the reserved broth and cook over medium heat until thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.

Make the dough: Mix 3 1/2 cups hot water, the sugar, vegetable oil, butter and salt in a medium bowl until the butter melts. Stir in the cornmeal and flour until a soft dough forms, then knead on a clean surface until the dough comes together. Shape into 12 balls, using about 1/2 cup dough for each.

One at a time, sprinkle each dough ball with water, place between two pieces of lightly oiled heavy-duty plastic wrap (a cut resealable bag works well) and roll into a 7-inch circle. Remove the top sheet of plastic and place 2 to 3 tablespoons filling in the center of the dough. Use the bottom piece of plastic to fold the dough in half over the filling and press to seal. Trim into a half-moon shape with a knife or press down with the round edge of a bowl. Remove the plastic and place the empanada on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet until a deep-fry thermometer registers 365 degrees F. Fry the empanadas in batches until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet; keep warm in the oven.

Make the sauce:

Combine the cilantro, olive oil, avocado, bell pepper, scallion, vinegar and garlic in a blender. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper and puree until smooth. Thin out the sauce with up to 1/4 cup water and serve with the empanadas.

On The Horizon...

The Texans host the division-rival Indianapolis Colts this Thursday in a "must-win" game to turn this season around.

GO TEXANS!

Texans vs Falcons coverage