After the Texans lost to Miami, this season looked to be over. They were demolished by a below-average team in a game where the Dolphins scored five touchdowns and gained 300 yards before Houston had five yards. They gave up four 50+ yard touchdowns. They were down 41-0 at one point. Arian Foster's Achilles exploded in a meaningless fourth quarter. Various members of the BRB masthead had the following to say in that week's Incompletions:
Say what you will about how bad Hoyer looked, how bad the defense looked in the first half, or how Godsey and Crennel are cripple-fighting for the label of Most Disappointing Coordinator. The takeaway for me begins and ends with Bill O'Brien. He spent a lot of time on Hard Knocks talking about no longer being an "almost" team.
His lack of leadership and intelligence in the second half today showed that the Texans will never move beyond "almost" while he's at the helm.
Yet the fans, owners, players, and coaches tell themselves they are a talented team that's just a few plays or players from being where they are supposed to be. They aren't the Jaguars. They aren't the Titans. They aren't the Browns. They aren't the Raiders. They aren't Lions. They've had some terrible years, but at least they aren't that bad.
This is all a lie. Just like George and Martha's imaginary child, it's an illusion that protects them from the truth of reality. The reality is the Texans have been, and still are, one of the premier putrid teams in the NFL. Sunday's game against the Dolphins is just another tick mark on a long flowing list.
After today's game, I'm officially done with Bill O'Brien as the head coach of your Houston Texans. Once again, this team looked incredibly over-matched from the first snap, and the effort was utterly pathetic. That we were playing pivotal starters in trash time is an embarrassment.
I am trying so hard not to overreact and take the long view here. So, so hard. But we suck. We have an inept coaching staff, poorly executing players, no foreseeable way out of this hellhole this season, and now no Arian.
There is too much wrong to fix in time to save this season. At this stage we can only hope for a meaningful draft position in 2016 that leads to a good QB. Perhaps McNair will bring in an experienced consultant too.
Kitten Kittening Kitten. I can't believe that game happened. It is astounding how bad this team is....
After this game Houston was 2-5, and all hope was lost for a playoff opportunity in an easy division.
Then the entire season changed. The coaching staff made changes on the defensive side of the ball. They stopped playing eight yards off every receiver, they began giving younger players snaps over worthless veterans, a tackling update was downloaded, the offensive line they imagined in August became a reality, J.J. Watt began destroying teams, Jadeveon Clowney became a presence, and the Texans won despite using three different starting quarterbacks because of how well everyone else played.
I have my doubts this strategy will hold up against Kansas City, but that doesn't matter right now. This was a successful season. The coaching staff made adjustments. The Texans did something they had never done before, win in Indianapolis. As a result, the Texans won the division and made the playoffs. That should be savored. The ride should be enjoyed until the lights are turned on and we're all forced to go back home to a footballless world.
Yes, it's bad division. But let's step back and remove the division from the equation and just focus on the fact that this Houston Texans team, down by 40+ points to two different teams this season, actually managed to finish with a winning record. The teams that lost to Atlanta and Miami - in all honesty, those teams were in the running for the worst pro football I've ever seen. Totally unprepared, emotionally detached, and quit (and yes, they QUIT in those games - they just did. It happens. It happened on those days, just deal).
So after that 2-5 start, the Texans go on a 7-2 tear and win the AFC South. The defense went from absolute trash to dominant, and the only answers we have for that turnaround is "we simplified some things". Really? Bullsh*t. Basically, this is the same team as last year. Whatever the real reason is, it's going to remain a mystery. The offense did just enough to get it done, but suffered a devastating blow this week losing Duane Brown for the playoffs.
It seemed like Bill O'Brien had lost the locker room earlier this season, but now he has to be commended for the turnaround and for getting this team to nine wins using as many starting quarterbacks as he did. It really is quite an accomplishment, even in a bad division.
But As Long As I Look Fly By Prom Night
The doubters will be out in force pointing out the weakness of the division, the weakness of the roster, the injuries, etc. Ignore them. Despite everything this team has faced this season--and more than a few of the issues were definitely self-inflicted--this roster, these coaches, and this front office came together to win the AFC South. I'd love to be the kind of franchise where making it into the playoffs was a given each season, but we're not there (yet), so this accomplishment needs to be celebrated accordingly by Texans fans.
This game wasn't without its issues. We've lost Duane Brown for the rest of the season, though hopefully he will have recovered sufficiently so that his 2016 season isn't impacted. Nate Washington went out with a hip injury and didn't return, but Cecil Shorts III has indicated that he's going to be ready for next week's game. There were several times during the game that Ben Jones was noticeably in pain and limping as well. Chris Clark was able to come in and fill Brown's shoes; the run and pass game didn't suffer a severe drop-off (possibly due to all the early season upheaval along the line, they were able to adapt to someone going down and keep on ticking).
On defense, J.J. Watt removed the cast and played with a modified glove and should have wrapped up his third DPOY award with his performance. His partnership with Whitney Mercilus allowed the Texans to set some defensive franchise records. Jadeveon Clowney should return for next week's game, so we'll see how RAC can fit all three into his scheme and whether he can produce a defensive performance as dominant as the one we just witnessed. Congratulations to Brian Cushing for playing a 16 game season, because it's been awhile since he's been able to achieve that. Congrats, too, to Benardrick McKinney for his development, and to Kevin Johnson (maybe he can get that pick-6 in the playoffs since he didn't get one during the season).
This is me giving Rick Smith credit for the contract extensions he gave to Johnathan Joseph and Whitney Mercilus this past offseason.
I thought for sure that both were on their way out after 2014 ended, with Clowney replacing Merc much in the same way that Merc replaced Connor Barwin.
Joseph was on his last year before getting extended and carried a hefty cap hit begging to be cut (Chris Myers ended up being the cap hit cut.)
Instead both are securely on the roster for the foreseeable future at reasonable costs and both are playing at a high level.
Raise Another One
Somehow, the Houston Texans won the AFC South. Somehow, NRG Stadium is hosting a playoff game on Saturday afternoon. While many Texans fans expected this to be the case before the 2015 regular season started, the number of people who expected it to happen after the team began the season 1-4 can probably be counted on one hand.
While we can certainly attribute the Texans' success to any number of external factors, such as Andrew Luck's ineffective season before being lost for the year to injury, the woebegone state of the Titans and Jaguars, or whatever else anyone wishes to cite to qualify or diminish this accomplishment, we also have to take stock of the adversity this team faced en route to the postseason. Turmoil at the most important position on the roster, including but not limited to the outright release of a player many believed was the best quarterback on the team and repeated concussions to Brian Hoyer. Or how about losing the best offensive player on the squad more than two months ago yet finding ways to win over and over again without him? Through it all, Bill O'Brien stayed the course. Now, the Houston Texans are back in the NFL playoffs. I'll drink to that.
If the Houston Texans' units were food...
The defense would be the most amazing blackened bone-in ribeye steak (tomahawk style), served with a two pound lobster tail and all the sides you ever dreamed of, paired with a bottle of 1961 Petrus.
The special teams would be a year's supply of coffee from Starbucks. You'll have the same nervous anxiety experiencing both.
The offense would be a tuna casserole...[pregnant pause]....that you found in the back of the fridge three weeks after it was shoved in there in favor of heading to Whataburger.
Overall, it was a really fun game. I got last-minute tickets and attended it with my wife and daughters; that marks the first time all four of us have been together at a Texans game. I love defensive football, and the Texans really delivered all game long. Hoyer had me nervous throughout much of the game, as his targeting looked to be way off on too many passes; hopefully, he settles down against Kansas City.
I'm old, which means I've watched a lot of sports over my lifetime. I simply cannot remember ever seeing a team turn around its season like the Texans did in 2015. Sure, the Chiefs were also bad at times this year before winning 10 straight, but they weren't Texans bad, especially against the Falcons, Dolphins, and Chiefs.
There was Hoyer's Floater.
We've talked a lot about what's changed, but I think the most important aspect is that we started getting ahead early. This team is built to play with a lead, and even a two score advantage can be troublesome for our opponents thanks to the defense. If we score the first 10 points, I think this team can beat anybody in the NFL.
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