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Incompletions: Texans v. Chiefs (Let's Find a Quarterback)

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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 end of the Houston Texans 2015 season after losing to Kansas City 30-0.

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Matt Weston:

Without a quarterback, you can win games in the NFL if the rest of the team is talented. The Houston Texans have and continue to do so. Their record the last two seasons is 18-15 because of J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Duane Brown, Brandon Brooks, Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, and others. The players of the Kubiak era are the reason why Bill O'Brien has won with the best team in a bad division. Not because of his ability to squeeze production out of Case Keenum, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Hoyer, and other quarterbacks that range from talentless to complete wastes of time.

The problem is you live a fragile existence. Teams that play like this are an egg whose insides are on the verge of being scrambled by any soft bump that leads to a tumble. They can't take on any scrapes or bruises. There's no coming from behind. Without a quarterback, the game has to be controlled from the very beginning, and if not, losses are imminent.

Houston lost control immediately against the Chiefs. Knile Davis returned the game's primordial kick off 106 yards for a touchdown and exposed the rancid 32nd ranked special teams. After this, the game was over. But not because of hindsight and the offense plopping a fat 0 on the scoreboard. The return derailed the Texans' delicate system of winning football games. I've broken it down in this space before, but let's run through it one last time:

Get a lead: Since 2014, the Texans have won 10 games where they trailed at any point. Of these, half these games were decided by one possession. The largest lead they came back from and won was ten points against EJ Manuel and the Bills last season. In that game it took a J.J. Watt pick-six to win it. Houston can only win in a controlled environment. They can't get behind because they don't have the firepower to come back.

Rush the passer: The Texans were at a disadvantage being able to do this against the scheme the Chiefs' running game. It's impossible to get pressure on the quarterback when there's just a three second window. Additionally, they were never able to force Smith into taking deeper drop backs, and were without Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans sacked Smith three times, but only had four quarterback hits. Watt and Mercilus got there occasionally, but they never frustrated Smith.

Run the ball: Houston moved the first level of the line of scrimmage fairly well against the stouts the Chiefs employ on the defensive line. Alfred Blue had the best run of his career for 49 yards when he slipped through a scant space between Derek Newton and Brandon Brooks. He finished with 99 yards and 5.8 yards a carry.  But the run-pass ratio was still 25 runs to 34 passes. It needed to be flip-flopped. If Houston had a lead, they could have leaned on this more than they were able to.

Win the turnover battle: Since 2014, the Texans have forced 40 turnovers in wins (26 interceptions and 14 fumbles recovered). In these games, the offense gave the ball away 17 times (10 interceptions and 7 fumbles lost). In wins, Houston's turnover differential is +23. In losses, it's -11 (26 GA, 15 TA).  Against the Chiefs, Houston's turnover differential was -4.

Hold the opponent to less than twenty points: From last week's game preview:

In wins, Houston scores an average of 25.05 points a game and gives up an average of 11.6 points. The most points they've allowed and still won was 21 to Tennessee last season in a 45-21 win. In losses, Houston scores 18.57 points. This is comparable to the 25.05 they score in wins. However, in losses Houston gives up 29.28 points a game. This is three more possessions than they allow in wins.

The Texans allowed 30 points, but only 324 yards. Of the 30 points, 23 were allowed by the defense and 6 came after turnovers. The Chiefs' average drive started at their 30.8 yard line. It's identical to the league leading 31 yard line they averaged in the regular season. As a unit, they played well. The only problem they had was covering Travis Kelce, who caught 8 out of 10 of his passes for 128 yards. Houston's offense is what hurt their defense. Regardless, the Texans still allowed thirteen more points than they needed to for them to win this game.

Brian Hoyer will be the main culprit for this loss and will be looked at with disdain similar to Ryan Lindley and Jake Delhomme. His turnovers were the main reason why Houston lost, but he turned the ball over because of the added burden put onto him. This team isn't built for him to have to do this. It's meant for him to throw 25 times and play simple plain football. The kickoff return for a touchdown changed all this, and consequently, Hoyer split his pants on national television because of the extra responsibility. Houston was forced to win because of him, and he failed.

So now the Texans' 2015 season is over, but football never ends. With the current set up of inside access, instant news reports, talk radio, twenty-four hour television channels, it all rolls together from OTAs to training camp to preseason to regular season to postseason to free agency to draft talk to the draft itself until the cycle renews again.

As we roll around the clock and float through the NFL's never ending waterfall of incessant talking points, the quarterback position will be the one dominating brains until next season begins.

The only hope found in the dark zero on the scoreboard is that this offensive ineptitude might have finally awoken the pompous, "I can coach any quarterback to do enough" machismo of Bill O'Brien. This may be it. Brian Hoyer's culmination of denying the quarterback position may be what actually changes things. All of that kicking down the aisle, all of that waiting and hoping for something good to happen, all of that indirect action that rolled down the hill into one steamy six turnover (1 fumble lost, 4 interceptions, 1 turnover on downs), 15-34, 136 yards, 1.7 QBR game from Brian Hoyer may be what leads to the Texans actually finding a real quarterback.

For too long, they pillaged the dumpsters of free agency hoping the problem would just magically work itself out. Ryan Fitzpatrick was a fine stop-gap they were able to exchange for a draft pick. Ryan Mallett was the $2 scratch-off that provided zero return. Hoyer was a worse version of Fitzpatrick. O'Brien did an exceptional job turning his self-inflicted handicap into something good enough, but he should have never put himself in this situation to begin with.

He ignored young talent, opting for the mediocre, and saw the results expected. To find a quarterback, real decisions have to be made. It's not something a team can put off. Work and risk must be taken. O'Brien didn't do it, and it all led up to Saturday's blowout.

With the average, you can beat the Jaguars, the Titans, the Buccaneers, and other bottom feeders of the league, thanks to an otherwise talented team devoid of quarterback play. Yes, you can get lucky and beat fringe playoff teams like the Jets. But you can't consistently beat good teams, and you're never going to do anything better than LOCK DOWN THE SOUTH.

[Raises Glass]

So here's to the end of scrap-heap quarterbacks. Here's to Brian Hoyer getting cut this offseason and saving $5 million in cap space. Here's to drafting a quarterback, seeing what they have in Tom Savage, and trying out a young, talented end-of-his-rope quarterback like Robert Griffin III. Here's to hoping Phillip Rivers doesn't want to play in Los Angeles. Here's to Drew Brees getting cut by New Orleans because they can't pay him $30 million with that trash secondary.

Here's to this franchise hopefully fixing the quarterback issue instead of continuing to waste the prime years of J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, and everyone's time.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

Brett Kollmann:

What. The kitten. Was that.

I just...I...why did I expect anything else?

Just One of Many...

MDC:

I take this game to mean that the Texans are going to sign RG3 this off-season once he's released by Washington. And I'm ok with that. Hell, I'd be ok with their signing Eddie Griffin to play QB at this point. It can't get worse.

Too Real.

kdentify:

Well, that sucked. I'm trying to be rational, and find some positives in this past game, and I'm struggling. The defense kept us in the game as much as they could until Watt went out with his groin injury. There. That's a positive. The run game was working, even though it was really all we had on offense yesterday. There. That's another one. Those are the only two I can find.

Yesterday proved that we have to address the offense and special teams of this roster, and soon. We need a quarterback. We need more wide receivers (right now I'd say we have Nuk and Strong). We need tight ends. We need to figure out what to do with Arian, whether we're comfortable with our RBBC when Arian goes down (if we bring him back next season), and whether to draft or bring in a rookie RB. We need to address the playcalling on offense. We need to address the kicker, punter, and special teams players.

Basically the only section of this team that can be depended upon is the defense, and we saw what they look like without Watt in the game, so we need to rub every rabbit's foot we can find to ensure he never goes down with injury again (I'm serious, go to your nearest Petsmart and Petco and start rubbing on bunnies, because that was awful).

Despite how awful this team looked yesterday, this team (meaning the 53) did make great strides this season. They overcame mistakes made in roster composition, the quarterback vortex of historical sh.ttiness, playcalling from the abyss, season-ending injuries to stars, non-calls, illnesses, and plain old bad luck to win the division and make the playoffs. Those 53 men deserve credit for that (even Hoyer, since he did some good things before yesterday, like allow us to jettison Mallett when it became obvious Mallett's personal issues were creating a personnel problem for the roster).

There's That 32nd Ranked Special Teams!

Capt Ron:

This game was the magnified example of our original concerns when news broke that Houston signed Brian Hoyer. While football is indeed a team sport, and that opening kickoff didn't help things by starting with a 7-point deficit, the Texans were kept alive in this game by the defense until Watt left with injury late in the game. Hoyer's individual self-destruction cost them this game.

Bob McNair's message to Bill O'Brien and Rick Smith should be something along the lines of: "Get a QB in here who won't empty that #*%&ing stadium by self-destructing on national television, or you two will spend the rest of your careers 'flying a cargo plane full of rubber dog-kitten out of Hong Kong!' "

I Don't Think This is How Apologizing Works.

bigfatdrunk:

What can be said about Brian Hoyer that hasn't been said when confronted with a sack of burning dog kitten?

Whether through arrogance, hubris, or lack of kittens to give, your Houston Texans have not treated QB as the most important position on the field since 2012. And, boy howdy, was that ever on display Saturday. No amount of specious apologia can possibly cover up one of the worst ever playoff performances by a QB.

Fact is, Hoyer's performance was hardly surprising, and we fans deserve far better. Heck, the Texans' defensive players deserve more...and probably another hit of oxygen.

Bill O'Brien wants the league to respect your Houston Texans. As long as you're trotting out Brian Hoyer as your starting QB, you're lucky if teams aren't laughing and pointing. Sure, we can beat the BE-SFs and the Glitter Kitties and, occasionally, the Bengals of the league. But as long as we're bringing a shotgun pointed the wrong way to a war, we are rat-kittened.

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