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Incompletions: Texans v. Vikings (Bad Offense Meets Great Defense)

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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 breaks down the Vikings pillaging the Houston Texans.

A match made in a very sad heaven.
A match made in a very sad heaven.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Weston:

Entering Week Five, the Texans had the worst offense in the NFL according to DVOA. They were worse than the Blaine Gabbert trodden 49ers, worse than Case Keenum and that rancid bag of receivers in Los Angeles, worse than the Browns, who used four different quarterbacks even before Cody Kessler was hurt, and even worse than the New York Jets, whose rating is covered in hobo QB vomit thanks to a six (6!) interception game.

This weekend, the Texans' challenge was a defense ranked 4th in DVOA, 4th in passing, and 4th in rushing. A team with superstars like Harrison Smith, Linval Joseph, Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, and Anthony Barr, along with complementary veterans Chad Greenway, Brian Robison, and Terrance Newman, and future pass rushing monster Danielle Hunter, who produces the occasional OMG sack.

Against this defense, the Texans' first two possessions went three and out. The Vikings’ offense scored on their first two. At 14-0, with the Texans' offense, against the Vikings' defense, this game was done. Over. There really was no reason to play the rest of it.

But they did. And boyo, it was a disaster. The Texans went three and out on their first four drives. By the time the Texans finally scored, it was 24-0. They kicked a field goal. A field goal that increased their win probability from 0.7% to 0.9%. A field goal, showcasing that Bill O’Brien didn’t care about trying to actually win this game, only painting the face of a hideous creature to deceive future Pro Football Reference box score checking football fans. The Texans went 1-14 on third and fourth down combined. Brock Osweiler completed 19 of his 42 pass attempts. The Texans attempted a screen pass on 4th and 16. They lost 31-13.

None of this is new. This is the fifth time in two years the Texans have been completely dismantled by a team. Last year, two mediocre teams in Atlanta and Miami had a track meet against them. Kansas City swallowed Brian Hoyer whole in the playoffs. Just two weeks ago, a third string quarterback and a fringe top ten defense shut them out in a Bill Belichick masterpiece. Now Mike Zimmer's Vikings skol-kittened them.

Wins are wins, I guess. But this team has not played well, and the performance doesn't match their record so far. This Sunday night, with an infirmary ward secondary, Andrew Luck is coming to town. If the Texans lose, they will be tied for first place in the division at 3-3. The Titans play the Browns. There could be a three way tie atop the division next week. So much for this team walking through a bad division.

The Texans aren't a good team in a bad division. They are just a bad team in a bad division.

MDC:

How long are we supposed to pretend like Brock Osweiler isn't bad? When can Sam and I make you fools admit we're right?

Mike Bullock:

So far, Houston has taken on two opponents they should have beaten, two that should have beaten them, and a third that beat them - badly - in the final game of last season. They did it with a patchwork offensive line, a brand new quarterback, a re-tooled offensive line, and a banged up defense that had a less than 100% J.J. Watt. By that math, they should be 2-3 right now, if not 1-4.

However, the Texans won three of those games in rather ugly fashion. One loss was against a team that the national media seems to think is being coached by a celestial creature, while yesterday's defeat came at the hands of the best defense in the NFL.

Is it time to put on the Chicken Little suit and run around mouthing obscenities about how horrific the offense is? Is it time to start burning toy Toros in effigy while praying that Bill O'Brien gets fired and replaced with Nick Saban or Tom Herman or some other coach who has less wins at the NFL level than O'Brien?

Doubtful.

This team has a lot to work on, and while any aspirations of a deep playoff run this year seem like pipe dreams at this stage, stranger things have happened.

If the team was 1-4 right now, then yeah, the meteorologist would have cause to report the sky was indeed falling. But 3-2 is still enough to remain in the lead of the worst division in pro ball for now.

Battle Red Coat:

If this was the 2015 Houston Texans, we would be 0-5. There is no way we would have won either of those first two games. The two losses would have been even worse. The Titans would have embarrassed us while DeMarco Murray ran all over us.

But we're not 0-5.  We're 3-2.

Brock Osweilier looked terrible against a Vikings defense that stamped out any hopes and dreams Texans fans had of a revamped offense this year. This isn't the first time the Vikings have done that this year.

Osweiler went 19-42 for 184 yards, one TD and one INT. That added up to a QB rating of 11.7 and a passer rating of 56.1. Pretty putrid.

In Week Three against the Vikings, Cam Newton went  21-35 for 262 yards and three INTs. That''s a QB rating of 16.3 and passer rating of 47.6.

Eli Manning was not much better, going 25-45 for 261 yards and an INT. That's a QB rating 20.3 and passer rating of 60.3.

Heck, even the man himself, Aaron Rodgers, went 20-36 for 213 yards, one TD and an INT.  That's a QB rating of 51.6 and a passer rating of 70.7, well below the norm for Rodgers.

This Vikings' defense is dominating some great offenses. The fact that they dominated us is neither surprising or of great concern. It is the best defense in the league and will be up there with some of the best of all time if they keep this up.

Additionally, Brock has not been terrible every single snap. Yes, there have been too many turnovers. Yes, there have been some stupid decisions. But there's been glimpses of some promise, even if very brief.

There are 11 weeks of this season left and it is certainly not over.

DieHard Chris:

I don't think this needs much analysis. I'll stand on what I thought about this team pre and post J.J. Watt, because it hasn't changed. This team will win the division and get bounced in their first playoff game.

The only real difference in my initial thought for this team's 2016 outlook is that I thought over the course of the year the offense would get to a point where it looks better than average. At this point, it may only aspire to "crappy."  With Brock Osweiler, I've long maintained that this would be a painful year of him learning on the job... but despite all the reasons for his struggles, the reality is we aren't even seeing flashes at this point. So, color me (even more) skeptical.

Capt Ron:

O'Brien and Godsey have been unable to get this offensive scheme to work to its potential through 2 years and 5 games.  I heard reports from fans sitting behind the Texans bench in Minnesota that the team was completely uninspired, listless and devoid of energy before, during and after the game.  THAT is all about coaching.  The dominating blowouts of the Texans on the road during O'Brien's tenure are very concerning.

Sean Pendergast shared this alarming point to highlight just how bad the Texans are getting set back early in many of their losses under O'Brien:

-----------

In 9 of 17 losses under O'Brien, Texans have fallen behind:

17-0

24-0

14-0

28-0

13-0

41-0

30-0

27-0

24-0

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The excuses about not having a good QB, or not having offensive weapons, to execute this so called "complex system" were all supposed to be addressed in the off-season when Houston acquired Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller and drafted Will Fuller and Braxton Miller.  Yet here we are...eyes fixed on the launch pad and watching the rocket gain about ten feet of altitude before collapsing and exploding in spectacular fashion.

Some say it all comes down to the offensive line being a rag-tag collection of backups who haven't had enough time together to work as a cohesive unit.  If cohesion of the offensive line is so important (spoiler: IT IS!) then why did they allow Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks to depart in free agency?  Granted, they did draft what appeared to be a very solid replacement at center in Nick Martin (lost due to injury), but they only saved $1 million per year by replacing Brooks with Jeff Allen who has been abysmal at right guard.  Chris Clark has been a shadow at left tackle, and Xavier Su'a-Filo still doesn't live up to the investment the Texans made in picking him at the top of the second round in the 2014 NFL Draft.  All of these personnel decisions resulting in a disastrous offensive line unit rest somewhere between O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith.  WHEN will Rick be held accountable for anything regarding this roster?  (spoiler: probably never, which is on owner Bob McNair).

My final thought is that Osweiler looks overwhelmed every time he approaches the line of scrimmage.  I think O'Brien needs to simplify this "complex offense" and the heavy load on the quarterback and two rookie wide receivers.  Get some plays designed that the offense can run effectively, and build off of that over time.  It appears as though O'Brien and Godsey have dumped the entire library of this vaunted "complex offense" into the laps of players who are still coming up to speed, and they are overloaded and unable to just go play football.

Something needs to change with this offense, and it needs to change now.

I'm less concerned about the defense.  They'll do their part when they are not asked to play 45 of the 60 minutes in these games.

Luke Beggs:

If the winner of the AFC South has a record above .500 this year, I'll send the NFL five Euros (gotta love that conversion rate) for convincing us all that one of these teams deserves to play in the playoffs.

I have no idea what to expect out of this team anymore.

Brock Osweiler hasn't had a game without a interception this season. Brian Hoyer had four last season.

bfMFd:

In six (6) of the past 22 games for your Houston Texans, Bill O'Brien (BOB) shat himself at the 50 yard line. The other coach then rubbed BOB's nose in it the rest of the game like a dog, but with less respect. Look at it this way: in 27% of games over the past two years, the Texans haven't even been respectable.

Gary Kubiak milked Brock Osweiler into a decent if still below average QB, even if for a few snaps at a time. BOB cannot do the same.  We are five (5) weeks into the great Brock Osweiler Experiment, and he so far is the third worst QB in the league, ahead of only Real American Blaine Gabbert and #HoboQB.

The 2016 Houston Texans season is starting to shape up like the 2015 version, and that's not a positive.  Not with this amount of talent.

Vega:

Despite the on-field performance, yesterday's Texans game was quite special for me. It was the first time that my oldest daughter, two months shy of her sixth birthday, voluntarily sat and watched the game with me. Because she's been around for many games (if not actually paying attention to them), she knows who "our" team is, and her blissful ignorance helped lighten the mood with such gems as:

"I wish the white team was as good as the purple team."

"You should get a new team."

"OHHH, we got three, and they still only have twenty-four!!"

The last one said with genuine enthusiasm and completely bereft of sarcasm.

I spent much of the game convincing her that it is not appropriate to switch allegiances to the purple team, and that we always stick by our team, regardless of the performance. Yet, I also had to wonder if it is, in fact, good parenting to raise her as a Texans fan.

Yesterday was frustrating to me not because I expected us to win (I didn't), but because I saw little progress from Week One. Teams have started bracketing DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, and there has been little creativity in the play calling to make teams pay. For all the talk this off-season about the great acquisition of Lamar Miller, we continue to essentially run him into the back of an overmatched offensive line. For all the excitement about Braxton Miller, he has three receptions in the three games he's been active. There has been virtually no attempt to get the Millers the ball in space.

I'm not yet sold on the idea that Brock cannot become a league average quarterback (though that's probably his ceiling at this point), but I'm painfully concerned about the coaching staff's ability to get the most out of this roster (the 4th and 16 screen pass made me want to send my daughter to bed early, lest she be subjected to that kind of football).

Yesterday, you saw an offense decimated by injuries use creative playcalling to maximize the potential of the players they could dress. Sadly, that team was not from Houston.

Oh, how I wish the white team was as good as the purple team.

Tim:

I was fully prepared for the Texans to lose to the Vikings yesterday. I was not prepared for the Texans to fall behind 24-0 to the Vikings and for this game to be over with more than half of the second quarter remaining.

Brock Osweiler was terrible. The offensive line didn't play particularly well, but even when Brock had time to set his feet and throw, he was horrifyingly inaccurate; some of his passes looked as though he was trying to skip rocks across a pond. Notwithstanding Brian Hoyer's nightmarish performance against the Chiefs in last year's Wild Card game, Osweiler played as poorly yesterday as any Texans' quarterback I can recall. While I appreciate Osweiler accepting responsibility for his abysmal production, at some point it's going to start to ring hollow.

The defense was terrible. Especially the secondary. As someone who watches the Horns every Saturday, my cup of horrendous defensive back play runneth over. Before he left the game with a concussion, Johnathan Joseph was getting destroyed. I know the team was without the services of Kareem Jackson yesterday, but there's simply no excuse for the Texans to get lit up like that by Sam Bradford and a wide receiving corps that was sans Stefon Diggs and hardly involved Kyle Rudolph.

The special teams was terrible. Nick Novak's first field goal attempt would have only had a shot if the right goal post was situated about 20 yards further toward the sideline. And the punt return touchdown by Marcus Sherels...it was as though Joe Marciano was still coordinating special teams for the Texans.

The coaching was terrible. Once again, the team looked completely overmatched against a good team. It's one thing to lose on the road to a division leader. It's another entirely to look like you don't belong on the same field. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of that reality is that the Texans under Bill O'Brien have far too often gotten SHELLED by good teams. Their last road win against a legitimately good team was against the Bengals eleven months ago. In fact, looking at the Texans' record since Bill O'Brien came to town, I'd go so far as to say that win over the Bengals on Monday Night Football last year is the only time the Texans have beaten a legitimately good team on the road. Seriously, go look for yourself.

That's not to say all is lost for the Texans. Many of us left this team for dead last season when they started 2-5, complete with two blowouts at the hands of the Falcons and Dolphins (neither of which would make the playoffs), only to see them rally and win the AFC South. At this point, however, it's difficult to envision the 2016 Houston Texans doing anything more than what they did last year--winning a weak division, hosting a Wild Card game, and promptly seeing its season end at the hands of a superior team that doesn't have the good fortune to claim membership in the AFC South.

Bill O'Brien:

I thought it was bad. It starts and ends with me. I have to do a much better job with this football team. I really don't know why we play so bad on the road. If I did, I would fix it.

Osweiler battled. I think he battled hard. He battled the whole day. Again, it starts and ends with me. I need to do a better job.

I give them a lot of credit. Mike Zimmer does a great job. He has done a great job with that team, and they play good team football. They're a good football team.

I have to do a much better job with this team. I think that this team can be good. It can be a good football team, but I just have to do a better job.

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