The Texans played the 31st defense last night according to DVOA. It's a defense that ranks 31st in passing defense. For the first 57:30 minutes of the game, the Texans were held to nine points. The same problem was there, and that problem was Brock Osweiler.
Again he sat in the short part of the field, but instead of nauseatingly focusing on the tight ends, he threw short comeback and out routes to DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins was targeted fifteen times and caught nine passes for 71 yards. Osweiler's ball placement was wide and lazy with no control over the ball. He couldn't place it in a determined spot. The football fluttered and fettered, sentient and autonomous. The best example of the ball placement issues was a throw to Hopkins on a drag route where Osweiler missed outside, allowing Vontae Davis to jump in front of the pass and intercept it. Osweiler overreacted to the teensiest bit of pressure. When he took shots deep, it was manufactured and not capable of being successful. Brock Osweiler was awful.
But football is a strange game. The Texans were down 14 with 7:04 left. The Colts played bend don't break defense and welcomed Osweiler to dink and dunk down the field. On that first fourth quarter scoring drive, Osweiler completed passes for 11, 8, 10, 9, 6, 12, 3, and 10 yards when Lamar Miller put the entire game on his back and ripped through five different sets of limbs, cutting all the way back across the field to score.
The next drive saw the Texans start at the 47. It ended with a touchdown pass down the seam against two deep safeties. C.J. Fiedorowicz beat the linebacker. Osweiler put the ball in front of the safety and made a throw every quarterback should make. Mike Adams went for the pick and realized he couldn't get there in time, then made things worse by whiffing on the tackle and allowing Fiedorowicz to score.
In overtime, Osweiler made the most important throw of his Texans career. Jaelen Strong was in one-on-one coverage wide to the left. Osweiler tossed a lovely fade down the left sideline and Strong outreached the cornerback for the ball. That put the Texans at the 12 yard line. Nick Novak kicked a field goal. The Texans won. After scoring only nine points in 57:30, the Texans scored 17 points in 8:27, scoring on each of their last three possessions.
Despite the thrill of the comeback, I still feel damp. This was a game where the last three possessions should have occurred over the course of the entire game. Against one of the easiest defenses in football, the Texans were manacled. It was a game Osweiler had to play, and should have played, well in, and he didn't. It says more about a Colts' defense that makes sure that no game is over, and each one will end in one possession, than it says about Osweiler's heart, or the way the Texans battled, or grit, or any other story board adjective.
It was fun, but Osweiler is still a really bad quarterback.
All this game did for me was confirm that I still have no idea what to make of this team. They can be so good when they want to be, and SO UNBELIEVABLY BAD at other times.
I still expect this club to lose against Denver next week, but at least we finally saw Brock Osweiler put together a few solid consecutive drives when his team needed them most. That's a start, at least...I'll take it.
The Texans showed some life on offense at at time where I was convinced it was too little, too late. Luckily for Houston, the Colts are just simply abhorrent. I picked the Texans to lose this game, and I'm pleasantly surprised they won. But unless this sparks some kind of turnaround, it's tough to put too much meaning into the comeback.
The thing that WILL make a difference is to see this team go on the road and compete against a legitimate team. So we'll see what happens Monday night.
This team concerns me. The offense looks like hot trash much of the time, despite the fact that we've got an offensive-minded HC who has the QB he specifically wanted and a number of offensive weapons that could be used effectively to make most games victories, or at least, competitive losses.
Instead, the offense comes out and poops the bed for a significant portion of games before hopefully turning the corner in the second half. I want to believe that the execution we saw from the second half of the fourth quarter on can be extended to all four quarters, but I just haven't seen that this season. We can't count on facing the Colts' defense for the next ten games. Given the past history of OB, by mid-season I expect this team to look better in games, but that raises the issue that we can't take half a season to get in gear offensively each season. It's a win, and that's essential, but there are still questions.
I repeat my assertion that Texans fans need to praise RAC because his defense has protected OB's offense far too many times for me to remember. Congrats to him and the defense for recovering from the Vikings and handling the Colts.
I'm still trying to process what I saw there at NRG Stadium in Houston. The home team couldn't have looked worse through three and a half quarters, and then all of a sudden decided to make a statement for an improbable comeback win in overtime.
I have no idea why they can't do that the entire game. It shows they have the ability to play good football, but have they been lacking the will? A moment like that, a win like that, can be a very emotional forging process for a young team to build on for the rest of the season. It is imperative that they harness this turning point and play it forward.
Baby steps, Houston. Baby steps.
In HOTD, I talked about Brock Osweiler finally killing my spirit and positivity, but it's safe to say after that fourth quarter and overtime, he's won it back. Those drives were what I saw when he played in Denver: Good at finding those underneath guys and then taking a shot when it was needed.
Lamar Miller was finally utilised how he was meant to be used--outside the tackles or receiving in space. Houston let him go to work, and he did just that. He deserved every yard and both of those touchdowns.
C.J. Fiedorowicz continues to put together a solid year. That's another TD for him, and he caught some key receptions. In fact, even Ryan Griffin got in on the act late in the game as well. Whenever we have good drives, these guys seem to always be a key factor in it. This one-two punch of TEs may not be quite the same as Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett in New England, but as a pair they're putting up some good numbers.
Right now, Houston's TE group as a whole looks set to double their production from 2015. In 2015, the TEs managed 42 receptions for 456 yards. The 2016 group is already at 40 receptions for 408 yards, having played eleven less games. That may be one of the only improvements, but it's been a position we've been terrible at in past years, so this is a welcome change.
The offense looked good enough late. It didn't look great, but serviceable at least. If we could continue that trend, maybe we won't get embarrassed.
Shout outs to Benardrick McKinney, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney for keeping this defense on schedule despite the absence of J.J. Watt. Every time we needed a stop, we got one (pretty much), and these guys were the leaders. Kevin Johnson had a good game too, and I was definitely happy with how we controlled T.Y. Hilton.
Another terrible first half of football, but followed by a great ending for once.
We'll get there. Hopefully.
We're in the third year of the Bill O'Brien Era, but does anybody yet know what we've actually got?After playing like we were facing the Patriots for three quarters, the offense finally did something, anything, against the worst and least talented defensive squad in the NFL. With the best game of his Texans career last night, Brock Osweiler now has the third worst QB rating in the league. One of those guys, Blaine Gabbert, lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick while the other is #HoboQB. Luckily, the Lamar Miller we thought we signed in the off-season finally showed up.What's most frustrating about this team is that, while the offense struggles to look something better than grossly incompetent, Romeo Crennel's defense is putting on a master class (Am I the only one who wants to crawl into Romeo's lap and have him scratch my head and tell me everything's gonna be alright? No? Good.).The Texans are 4-2, heading into Denver, a true playoff caliber team. Is it going to wind up like 30% of our games and be a total blowout? With what we've seen from BOB, all signs point to yes.
There's a lot to take in from last night. While Houston's offense continued to draw attention to its glaring shortcomings for the vast majority of the game, we can break that down later. For now, I just want to revel in the fact that the Houston Texans came back from 14 points down late in the fourth quarter to beat the Colts in overtime. That it happened in a prime time game is simply the cherry on top of the sundae.
Yes, Brock Osweiler looked horrendous for nearly the entire night, and that's rather discouraging. When it mattered most, however, he delivered. I'd love to think that last night was the flipping of a switch, and we'll see the Brock Osweiler we saw late in the fourth quarter and in overtime from here on out. Unfortunately, the Colts' defense isn't going to be confused with that of the Broncos anytime soon, so I can't make that leap. Realistically, I'm hoping that last night was a confidence-builder for Osweiler. It'd be swell if he settled down and made strides toward not throwing behind his receivers. I keep trying to tell myself that the majority of Osweiler's problems can be solved with time and repetitions. It's becoming harder to cling to each week, but I haven't given up on it yet.
Lamar Miller was a revelation. He was the best player on the field throughout the evening. His performance called to mind some of the best work Arian Foster did during his glory years here, where everyone knew where the ball was going but defenses still couldn't stop it.
The Texans' defense, banged up as it was, was excellent last night. Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and Benardrick McKinney in particular stood out. Watching those three grow into monsters each week has been a lot of fun. As concerned as I am about what the Broncos will do to their former QB next week, I'm really excited to see what Romeo Crennel has in store for Trevor Siemian.
No matter what, last night was a big win. It probably didn't do much to change your general opinion of how good the 2016 Houston Texans are, but I'd rather have those doubts at 4-2 than at 3-3.
This team has simply been painful to watch all season long.
For years when the Texans lost, at least you could count on one of the star players to have a game that made watching it enjoyable on some level. So far this year, that's just not happened when they lose, and when they win it's just ugly. Despite any airs to the contrary, football is entertainment. It seems the main reason for the unrest in Texans Nation this year is just that the product on the field is simply not entertaining.
I'd given up on them last night. Completely.
The offense looked so bad, like first year Tampa Bay Buccaneers bad - against the league's worst defense - that it became unimaginable how they could outscore a playoff caliber opponent like Denver or Green Bay or whomever they'll face if they make it to the post season.
Then something happened.
That will to win I've mentioned several times in the Red Zone Play column reared it's beautiful head. Guys like Lamar Miller, Jadeveon Clowney Whitney Mercilus and A.J. Bouye rose up and said we're not losing. Not again.
While the plague of injuries that's infested the roster may keep Houston from going far this year, that will to win can make sure the injuries are the only reason they didn't get host a Super Bowl at NRG this time around.
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