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Red Zone Play: Back To Basics And Farewell To A Legend

Looking at what the Texans need to do to make two playoff games a possibility, as well as paying respect to one of the greatest players in franchise history.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Once a Texan, always a Texan.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In last week’s column, we took off the rose-colored glasses and admitted the 2016 Houston Texans are not living up to their potential. While “on paper” they should still be a solid team, on the field the struggle is real.

The strange thing is, however, they’re 5-3 heading into their bye week with really only have two playoff caliber teams left on the schedule. With games at Mexico City against Oakland, at Green Bay against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and the x-factor game in Indianapolis facing the Colts (always a toss up), the revised prediction for this team is now 10-6. That’s certainly good enough to put them back in the playoffs.

Without J.J. Watt, Kevin Johnson, Derek Newton, and a handful of others, will this team be good enough to surge past their likely wild card opponent?

There’s still plenty of time between now and then for head coach Bill O’Brien to get this team back to basics and on to the next level – once more driving into the red zone.

When you look at the success the New England Patriots have enjoyed over the last decade and a half, despite a nearly constant roster churn, the team has remained successful due in large part to solid fundamentals. They tackle well, they block well, the skill position players execute, and the game plan is always good enough to compete with their opponent.

That blueprint is supposed to be part of Houston’s DNA and overlaying the product Bill O’Brien puts on the field every week. It’s easy to see where things aren’t lining up. With two weeks until their next game, getting back to basics should be the mantra for every man, woman, and child who has anything to do with the Houston Texans football team.

Do that, follow the Patriots’ DNA map, and maybe a divisional round playoff game can still happen this year. Don’t do that, and start planning for the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes…

Speaking of sound fundamentals, all-time Houston Texans great Andre Johnson announced his retirement yesterday. While it’s certainly not surprising, it is somewhat sad to see the end of an era. Say what you will about Johnson leaving the Texans to go play for the division rival Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, the man gave his all for this team and this town when he was here.

Johnson’s career comes to an end with 1,062 catches for 14,185 yards, 77 touchdowns and one unforgettable TKO.

Certainly someone in the Texans brass has reached out to Dre’s camp and asked him back to do the one-day contract signing so he can officially retire a Texan. If they’re smart, they’ll hold that at midfield in NRG Stadium and let the fans pay tribute to the best player in Texans history.

Godspeed, Mr. Johnson. You left your mark on this team and this town in a manner that no one will ever forget.