The Texans have been an extraordinarily lucky team in 2016, namely by winning five (5!) one possession games. This is not a sustainable strategy; an average team will win 50% of these games. Today, the Texans' luck came to an end.
The defense did their part, keeping the Chargers a TD below their season average. Romeo Crennel and his charges are doing a fantastic job making up for the loss of the best player in the NFL, even if we're struggling to get to the QB.
The offense, however, continues to be a train crashing into a dumpster fire as it goes over a cliff. It turns out QB play DOES matter to the team's record. Who knew? What can I say about the offensive game-planning that I didn't drop into the toilet this morning?
The BE-SFs won, which means we're up by half a game. We have two home games and three road games left, with the last game at Methoptamia. I wonder if that game will decide the season, though I now see us with an 8-8 record. I'm not sure if we can even half-kitten our way to the playoffs at this point.
Lance Z tweeted something to the effect that he wouldn't be surprised if Bill O'Brien took the Notre Dame job. I think this makes a lot of sense. Some coaches can be effective in the NFL, and some can't. And if your returning QB is Brock Osweiler, that's a fantastic reason to be the first rat off the ship.
You Mean This One?
It will not surprise me to see Bill O'Brien pursue Notre Dame job rather than be stuck coaching Osweiller again next year.— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) November 27, 2016
Notwithstanding poor coverage by the safeties at critical times that led to touchdowns for the other team, the Texans' defense did their usual best at keeping the game close throughout most of the afternoon. The offense is just terrible, and it all starts with game planning and play calling. Rich Gannon was dropping more offensive wisdom throughout his broadcast than I have seen demonstrated by anyone on Houston's staff all season. The Titans and Colts are closing in, and the Texans are sliding the wrong way in this final stretch.
There is a lot of explosive talent just waiting to be organized and unleashed in this offensive roster, but it isn't going to happen with the combination of O'Brien, Godsey and Brock at the controls. That much is clear.
It's off to Green Bay next, where the Texans will face a Packers’ defense that has allowed massive points in their last three consecutive losses: Indy 31-26, @Tenn 47-25, and @ Washington 42-24. We'll see what Philly, and rookie QB Carson Wentz, can do against them on Monday Night Football. It's a defense that may be the best opportunity for Houston to get things right and turn the corner, but who am I kidding? I'm a diehard fan of a hopeless franchise.
Every once in awhile, I go to my happy place where I'm Emperor of the Universe and can decide all things as I wish.
Today, after watching the inexplicably bad decision making and play calling of the Texans' offensive brain trust while listening to the most intelligent color commentary the Texans have enjoyed all year, I went there.
In my latest Emperor of the Universe musings, I fired Bill O'Brien and George Godsey tomorrow morning and replaced them with Jon Gruden and Rich Gannon just in time for tomorrow's 2:30 press conference.
Then, I watched as these two proven NFL winners went on to turn Brock Osweiler into a great quarterback, made Lamar Miller into the next Ladanian Tomlinson, and lifed DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller into the greatest wideout corps in football history. Then I sat back and counted the Lombardis that flowed into Texans' HQ like milk and honey.
Alas, much to my dismay, this is but a pipe dream. The reality that no Pollyanna can erase is that Texans fans are stuck with a dystopian offense that will sooner die a slow death than come anywhere near a Super Bowl championship.
Now, please excuse me as I return to my Empire, where fans smile and being a Texan means you're a champion.
Having predicted this loss, I can't say I'm at all surprised by anything from this game, other than the fact that Brock Osweiler continues to amaze me at how inaccurate he is, even on the short throws. It's so bad, it's actually impressive. I think the thing a lot of Texans fans are not grasping about Brock is that right now is that he has SO FAR to go just to get to average.
So yeah, a lot of us aren't very fun to read these days. We're negative. I won't speak for others, but it's kind of like expecting me to root hard for the Tony Montana character in Scarface when we know he's going to get machine-gunned to death at the end after 2.5 hours of horrible decisions and repeated self-sabotage, all the while refusing to acknowledge the litany of issues in front of him.
Tom Savage is not the answer. A simple change at QB is not the answer. It'll help, but honestly the offensive line and the run game are supposed to be the biggest parts of this offense, and neither are any good. Those will take time to fix. I'm unsure as to what to do with Bill O'Brien. One part of me is ready to just flush him down the toilet and start again, but the other part of me is aware that he's working with a QB who's somehow worse than Brian Hoyer and Ryan Fitzpatrick, after he squeezed every ounce of footballing talent from those two in order to make this team somewhat decent in a division of utter garbage.
A good team works their offense around the players’ strengths, even with quarterbacks who previously looked average or even bad. Kirk Cousins, Colin Kaepernick, Tyrod Taylor, and Dak Prescott are good examples that exist in the NFL right now. It's a failure of both parties. BOB can't get anything out of Brock, and Brock can't do anything because his mechanics are messed up; he telegraphs most of his throws by staring down his receiver like his life depends on it. There's only one thing left to do now.......
All aboard the Sam Bradford trade train!
Sometimes, if you squint real hard, you can see the outlines of a good quarterback with Brock Osweiler. Sure, I've had two Monsters, so maybe it's the taurine talking, but there are times when he looks like he could command an offense somewhat capably. But then he goes and makes an unforced error and tips the balance of the game against the Texans. There's just enough there to where you think that, with a little coaching, Osweiler could become at least league average. Hope was the only thing left in Pandora's box, though, so perhaps it's just wishful thinking or my staggering ability to rationalize.
Offensive play calling continues to befuddle. Last week, we got too cute in short yardage situations. This week, we seemed too predictable. Defense was pretty good, I suppose. Jadeveon Clowney had some moments where I swore he was teleporting to the other side of the kind of scrimmage, but Philip Rivers did a great job of managing the pocket and throwing strikes when he needed to.
In the end, I suppose we have a team that could, with a few tweaks, be much better than what it is now. But that requires coaches that don't make Gary Kubiak look like Mouse Davis or June Jones.
So, what we have is what we saw today, with little sense that anything is going to get better.
Once upon a time in a land pretty far away, a young-ish, doe-eyed UT saw Bill O'Brien hired as the third head coach in the still early history of the Houston Texans. He didn't know much about the guy. other than he had a couple of okay seasons at Penn State after that school kinda, sorta, but not at all got what was coming to them.
Confused and concerned, he was told that O'Brien would bring great happiness to Texans’ fans because he was an offensive genius with a system that adapted to the skills and natural talents available on the roster.
Young UT smiled and thought, "What a good thing. What a very good thing," because he felt that Kubiak's system was no longer working. "It was too conservative," he was told. "It's antiquated and has no place in modern football." O'Brien's system was revolutionary and bound to take the offense to untold heights.
Several years later, UT had grown up some. His eyes were less doe-like and more of a medium sized mule deer, his stubble shiny and mildly disheveled, and his belief in Bill O'Brien being the answer began to waver.
That was when he and Rick Smith brought in the quarterback O'Brien had wanted for years: Brock Osweiler.
Much like the O'Brien hiring, happy little UT did not know what to make of the Osweiler signing. There was great concern and confusion swirling around him at the time of the announcement. The money was a bit high, and all he knew was what he saw of a handful of Broncos games. He was told that Osweiler had all the goods, that he was the hand-picked quarterback of Bill O'Brien, the one who would be best served in the system.
UT bounced out of his chair and ran around the basement saying exuberantly, "What a good thing. What a very good thing. All the Texans needed last year was an average quarterback to make them a legitimate threat. All Osweiler needs to be is better than Brian Hoyer and this team can make it to the promised land."
His wife rolled her eyes and continued watching “Scandal” or some such nonsense.
Then this season rolled around, and UT saw this bright shiny new quarterback throw wounded ducks, cringe-inducing interceptions, and show no evidence that he deserves to be starting, let alone the $36 million guaranteed to him over the next two years. The quarterback proved (or has proven, at least) to be a younger, taller version of Brian Hoyer.
He saw the coach who promised an innovative offense transform into a coach whose conservative playcalling would've turned even Gary Kubiak's stomach.
Something within UT changed during that season. The twinkle of optimism in his eyes faded more and more with each incomprehensible Osweiler interception. Every field goal decision made by O'Brien on fourth and short in opponent territory elicited a sigh of despair. Watching O'Brien call for a punt on fourth and short in Mexico City with roughly four minutes left in the game shrunk poor little UT's heart three sizes that day.
We fast forward to now, where a bitter, cynical, cranky, and slightly sticky UT cackles insanely at Osweiler interceptions, cheers wildly at Bill O'Brien's revolutionary all field-goal offense, and stares like Travis Bickle at the TV when opposing teams score against the Texans.
The moral of the story is that Bill O'Brien and Brock Osweiler are not the way forward now. After watching today's game, I am convinced they never will be either. Fire Bill O'Brien (and preferably Rick Smith too). Find another answer at quarterback because this team desperately needs a course correction.
Happy, fun UT has turned into tragic, sad UT. And nobody should have what happened to happy, fun UT happen to them.
As it has most of the season, I thought the Texans’ defense played well enough to beat the Chargers, though they made a couple of killer mistakes (Quentin Demps in particular...woof). The story of the loss, as it has been most of the season, was Houston’s offense. I remain befuddled as to why the coaches continually treat Lamar Miller as though he’s Ron Dayne, sending him into the pile again and again. Chris Clark, after being adequate in relief of Duane Brown earlier this year and at various points last season, is really struggling at right tackle, to the point that he was a clear liability yesterday.
Of course, the focus of yesterday’s failure will be on Brock Osweiler. He threw three picks. The first one, at the sideline, was a combination of poor decision-making (maybe just throw it away and live to fight again on second down?) and simply not enough velocity on the ball. That’s not a slight to Osweiler’s arm strength; it would have been a very tough throw to make regardless, requiring the QB to rifle a dart while on the run. If it’s not thrown hard enough at the right spot, it’s going to get picked. It wasn’t, and it did. There’s no justifying the second interception. It was horrific in every sense of the word. The third pick was a Hail Mary to the end zone; it counts in the stats, but it’s hard to get too upset at that one.
To me, the primary issue with Osweiler isn’t his lack of production (though that’s a problem). It’s the lack of consistent progress. The absence of defined and steady improvement. Every time you think he may be getting it together, Osweiler takes two steps back. Brock didn’t lose that game by himself yesterday, but he certainly didn’t make plays when his team needed him to. The thing that’s tough to stomach is that, by all appearances, Osweiler puts the work in. I seriously doubt his shortcomings are in any way related to his preparation. It just seems like he can’t put it together when it counts, and it’s maddening.
I doubt Bill O’Brien makes a change at quarterback this week. If I was a betting man, I don’t even think he’ll do it this season. The reality is, however, that the Texans’ lead in the AFC South is down to a half-game. With the AFC West as strong as it is and the Dolphins surging in the AFC East, it seems rather unlikely the AFC South runner-up gets a wild card berth. If the Texans are going to qualify for the playoffs, it will have to be as the division champion. If the Texans don’t manage to do that, the 2016 season may well be even more disappointing than the wheels-off campaigns of 2005 and 2013 or the near-miss of 2009. For a franchise that’s no stranger to coming up short, that’s saying a lot.