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Texans v. Vikings Review: What Went Wrong?

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Capt Ron shares his thoughts on Houston’s offensive line, and questions the game planning that led to the recent loss against Minnesota. Join the conversation on Battle Red Blog.

Houston Texans v Minnesota Vikings
“Not the face!”
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

OFFENSIVE LINE:

I re-watched Sunday’s game between the Texans and Vikings. That screen play called on 4th and 16 that so many rightly criticized? It came after a big third down sack that occurred when Xavier Su'a-Filo missed his block by a mile. Su’a-Filo looks utterly confused on so many plays. Most often when protection breaks down, it's either Su’a-Filo, Chris Clark, or Jeff Allen who blew an assignment, wandering around aimlessly while Brock Osweiler or the running back gets pounded into dust. While Brock certainly had several “WTF?” moments, the offensive line needs to work better together as a unit. Granted, that Vikings’ defense may be one for the ages, but the Texans’ offense has to execute more consistently.

I also saw that they had Su'a-Filo watching Osweiler for the snap signal. After seeing it, Su’a-Filo e would smack Greg Mancz on the hip. Then Mancz would drop his head like a beach-ball-sized fishing bobber and snap the ball. Doesn't such a head bob signal to the defense when the ball is being snapped? Mancz also did it on a hard count and the defense didn't bite, so perhaps not, but it just seemed like a very odd movement from the center.

GAME PLANNING?

Believe it or not, the game actually didn't look as horrific as the score, stats, and outbursts from fans might suggest. Aside from abysmal execution by the offensive line and quarterback at times, the biggest issue was poor game-planning, play calling, and adjustments by the coaches. The Texans were simply outmatched by brilliant play designs on both sides of the ball. Mike Zimmer should be Coach of the Year if Minnesota keeps rolling after so many injuries to his key players.

I'm seriously concerned about Bill O'Brien and his staff, as they don't have the Texans ready to compete week after week. They are not finding the weaknesses of the opponent to exploit with mismatches. They are not finding creative ways to utilize their own strengths to advantage. The plays are not called in a way to set up future plays to catch the opponent off balance. It looks more like a preseason script of "let's see how this single play looks," instead of orchestrating a series of plays that build momentum and strategy. It might be that whatever plan O’Brien and George Godsey have sequenced for a series is essentially crushed when a player fails to execute, thus changing the order of dominoes needed to fall into place. If so, O’Brien needs a backup plan when that happens. He needs to be more dynamic in shifting strategies and making adjustments that his players can execute.

The Texans aren’t building on anything week after week. We don’t see any improvement in strategy or in execution. I have absolutely no idea what to expect in this next tilt against the Colts. It’s Sunday Night Football on the NFL’s biggest stage, and that only makes me feel less confident, given the history of this team shrinking under the hot lights. All that being said, I do hope the coaches and players can figure things out, and quickly!