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Incompletions: Texans v. Patriots (This Week In Moral Victories)

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With so much to write and talk about after every game, and not enough time for one man to write about it all, the masthead joins together and reacts to the Houston Texans' loss to the New England Patriots.

Brady: "What does that scoreboard say, Mr. Watt?"
Brady: "What does that scoreboard say, Mr. Watt?"
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Weston:

Watching J.J. Watt play with a CLUB is the perfect metaphor for the Texans under Bill O'Brien. They are a talented team that should win at least ten games in an easy division. Yet they don't, because they play every week with their hand tied behind their back. Every week, they field a quarterback who falls somewhere between below average and replacement level.  As a result, the Texans are forced to win with, but not because, of him.

Going back to last season, for the Texans to win they need to get a lead, run the ball, hold the opponent to 13 points, rush the passer, win the turnover battle, and play sterile, squeaky clean football. When they get caught behind and are forced to score more than 21 points to win, they're screwed. We've seen it enough times to get it.

Despite it all, the thing about last night's game is that it doesn't matter. Winning the next three weeks is what does. The conundrum is next week they're playing a must win game, in a stadium they've never won at before, against Andrew Luck, with either T.J. Yates or Brian Hoyer at quarterback. Like the New England game last night, I don't, and never will, have the confidence that Houston wins this type of game until it actually happens.

And it won't occur until they fix the quarterback situation and stop playing football with one hand. Until then, this franchise's apex will be beating the Cincinnati Bengals a couple of times.

Whoopee.

kdentify:

I'm not by nature an emotional fan or a violent person, but I just have the undying urge to hit something, repeatedly, with a 4x4. Like really hit something.

I know that this team is going to trot out Brian Hoyer every chance we get, because he's our starter, but I really, really don't want to see that man take another snap for this team after this season. We knew what we were getting with Brian Hoyer, but I'm choosing to believe that there are plans to upgrade the position after the season ends.

I really, really would like OB to pull a Mike McCarthy and snatch back playcalling duties from  George Godsey because this constant "we tried to get too cute" horsesh.t excuse for the freaking wildcat is just not okay. The offense wasted good performances by the defense and special teams with their ineptitude,  and it's really not fair to them or to fans to expect us to watch this steaming pile of sh.t week in and week out.

As soon as we found out that Rob Gronkowski would be playing and J.J. Watt broke his hand, this was going to be a tough game for the defense, but I'm pleased to say that I saw good things from Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney, so even though we bent and broke a few times, there are defensive positives to take from this game. Congrats on not getting blown out, though I think that had something to do with the fact that LeGarrette Blount went down early.

Capt Ron:

Before this season started, I stressed that my concerns about the Texans were that the defense would be generally exceptional most of the time, but it would get undermined by an offense that lacked weapons to sustain drives and score points, and that was before Arian Foster was lost for the year.  This game highlighted that fact like the bright lights of an operating room.  The Patriots are going to get some big plays in any given tilt, and the defense did a decent job of limiting as much as possible early on, but the Texans' offense failed at so many opportunities to take what was there for them.

The offensive line was mostly overwhelmed and generally underperformed to a level of embarrassment.  Even when they did lace together good pass protection to give Brian Hoyer time, he was too late with the pass and/or off-target.  When Houston's receivers were open, Hoyer recognized it too late, allowing the Patriots' defense to react in time to kill the play.  Yes, there were dropped passes by the Texans, but the ball placement was horrendous throughout most of the game.

"It's the quarterback, stupid!"  What separates "franchise NFL quarterbacks" from those who should be holding clipboards--or perhaps golf clubs as "former players"--is the ability to recognize the other team's defensive scheme, make adjustments to protection (pre-snap) and protect the football by getting it out quickly to gash the defense for positive yards, or throw it away to avoid taking a sack.  Hoyer is who we thought he was, and O'Brien is being profoundly humbled by his preseason over-confidence that he could do more with this quarterback.

The offensive play-calling was mind-boggling, as the Texans abandoned an effective traditional running game and attempted "wildcat" plays even when it was clearly obvious that the Patriots were not going to be fooled by such buffoonery.  The one area where Houston's defense is still struggling is tackling.  It's clear that the team needs to get back to basics:  Block the other guy, throw the ball on target, catch the ball, and tackle the other guy.  How do these players get to the NFL and not have these fundamentals down?

If there is any positive to take away from this game, it is that Jadeveon Clowney is starting to "get it," and is rising to be the disruptive force that was worthy of the first-overall pick.  None of that will matter this year, because even if the Texans manage to do something that the franchise has never done by winning in Indy next week, they won't advance in the playoffs against "good" teams with this horrendous offense.

So now we succumb to the same theme we've known since 2002...."Hey, there's always next year!"

Diehard Chris:

It's not that Brian Hoyer is bad - it's that Brian Hoyer is Brian Hoyer.  I'm actually not going to assail the guy because he is exactly who he was and has been his entire career.  If you want to be mad at someone - be mad at those that brought him here thinking he could be someone other than he has been his ENTIRE CAREER when they had the ability in the draft to pick someone up - or really, if you're going to just have a "bridge QB," could have just held on to Ryan Fitzpatrick.

In fact, here's a list of those you should be mad at more than Brian Hoyer for quick reference:

1.  The offensive coaching staff, who was every single bit as bad as Derek Newton or Ryan Griffin or Brian Hoyer last night.  You put the Texans' version of The Wildcat on tape for SEVERAL weeks and then run it without any new wrinkles against a Bill Belichick defense?  Really?

2.  Nate Washington, who either lets the ball come to his body (allowing defenders to make easy plays on balls that should be contested by BOTH the WR and the DB) or when he does actually go to reach for the ball and catch it with his HANDS instead of his body is just simply terrible at it.

3.  Those who construct the offense who think "team speed" is just a nice luxury thing to have rather than something to target and actively pursue (that one is on the current regime and the previous).

4.  The entire tight end position group and coach.  Rick Smith is likely working bell to bell on a contract extension for Ryan Griffin.

This one never felt remotely within reach.  It was great to see JD Clowney come up big; I just wish it was something that fueled a win.  Still, as insane as it sounds, Houston could still put its playoff future squarely in its own lap with a win at Indy next week against a deplorable Colts team - with or without Andrew Luck.

bfMFd:

I'm jumping into the thread late, and I'm afraid I won't be able to add much to the game analysis itself, so I'm going to look ahead.

This would be a great time to have Tom Savage available to us, but instead, we've got Ryan Griffin.  This is yet another example of how the front office has bungled personnel decisions this year.  What helped defensively, though, is that we at least had the opportunity to get younger and faster, benching problems like Rahim Moore for Andre Hal.  But we can't do that with Savage.

We can, however, play Jaelen Strong ahead of The Corpse of Nate Washington.  And we can go back to the future by starting T.J. Yates, who has hit at least one deep pass kinda mostly in stride this season.  It's time for Hoyer's reign of error to end in Houston.

The Texans are "tied" for first in the AFC South with the Clots, but the Glitter Kitties are a single game behind and playing solid ball.  Our playoff hopes hinge on our offense helping out the defense just a little, and I think the chances are better for that happening with Yates under center.

Tim:

Last night was as one-sided an affair as we've seen the Texans on the wrong side of since the horrendous embarrassment in Miami.  While Houston did manage to keep the Patriots from dropping a forty-burger on them, the game officially ceased to resemble a contest once the Texans failed to capitalize on Keshawn Martin's fumble early in the second half.  Speaking of, I love Bill O'Brien being aggressive and all, but I do not understand going for it on 4th and 4 in the third quarter there.  Once that gamble failed, it was all over but the crying.

Disheartening?  Indubitably.  And yet...if the Texans manage to win their next three games, all of which are against AFC South teams as bad or worse than they are, they win the division and qualify for the playoffs.  I'd rather they were 10-3 and coasting into January, but I'll gladly take the intrigue over what this team seemed spiraling toward back in late October.

Brett Kollmann:

Last night pretty much put an exclamation point on the whole "Houston needs to draft a quarterback" thing. Not only was Brian Hoyer consistently putting himself into disastrous situations by holding the ball too long, but he flat out missed a few potentially huge plays with spotty ball placement as well. To top it all off, Hoyer then got concussed for the second time in the last calendar month, which means once again Bill O'Brien will have to try to scrape by with another backup quarterback as he tries to win the division late in the season. No signal-caller on this roster can stay healthy, and even worse, none of them can actually lead this franchise to where they want to go. A change needs to be made next spring, and hopefully the team itself recognizes that as well.

Defensively, Jadeveon Clowney finally had his "coming out" party in front of a national audience. Sure, he's still a stiff-hipped rusher who gets by more on raw explosiveness than bending the corner with technique and fluidity, but at least that physical ability started translating to production in these last two weeks. For now, I consider that a good thing. J.J. Watt was clearly hampered by that club on his hand, so I'll give him a pass for not sacking Brady 12 times and willing this team to victory by himself like he usually does.

On to Indianapolis, I guess. Welp.

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