The Tennessee Titans should be ashamed of themselves. No one expected them to be as good as they were this year. I loved Demarco Murray in Tennessee, where he would be running north instead of west and east. I liked the idea of exotic methmouth football. I just didn’t think they would be able to throw the ball downfield to keep boxes light enough. I thought their offensive line would be good but not great, and a Mike Mularkey led team would win games. Those three things were all false. They transformed their offense when Marcus Mariota started to throw downfield. Their offensive line was one of the best in the league. And I guess Mularkey is a capable coach. None of it matters, though. The only goal of the regular season is to make the playoffs. The Titans won’t because they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Randy Bullock should be ashamed of himself. The hammock of skin swaying underneath his chin made him the focus of adorable fatso jokes when he was Houston. The cracks went from jokes to pure vitriol when he couldn’t make the kicks that mattered for the Texans. He was cut after continuous accuracy problems. Since then, he’s pingponged around the league, taking over for kickers recently banished to their lawnmowers who can’t hit extra points. The Bengals brought him in after Mike Nugent missed six this year. Bullock’s entire career culminated with a game-winning field goal attempt that could have sent his original team, the old bully, into a do-or-die game. But no, he did what he does best instead: Miss high leverage kicks.
The AFC South hasn’t been good since like 2008. This year, it was finally fun. The year the division finally became fun should have ended in a Week 17 championship celebration. It would have been the toad on this dumpster sundae. But no. That was too much to ask Randy Bullock for. The Titans had to ruin their season by losing to a two, now three(!), win Jacksonville team. The Bengals had to miss a game-winning field goal.
Instead of a beautiful moment where the universe clicks right into place like the tracks on a rollycoaster, the Titans lost and the Texans beat the Bengals to win the division. I couldn’t be more upset. I wanted the AFC South Title Game so badly. So, so, so badly. Now it will never exist. It will just float around in a different reality. The moment where the Texans and Titans played a meaningful game that could morph into a real rivalry instead of just being someone being unable to get over their girlfriend leaving them for someone else is now just some crazy dream.
I hate the Titans. I hate Randy Bullock.
I think Savage needs to be a shotgun-only QB. Not only does it give him more time, since he's got a slow process, but he also seemed to make better reads out of it.
The Houston Texans won the AFC South. The Houston Texans are going to the playoffs. The Houston Texans are hosting a wild card game in two weeks.
That's enough analysis from me right now.
Welp, Tom Savage was Osweileresque to be sure, but he didn't turn the ball over and that alone is an improvement. The Houston defense is ludicrous at this point, and as much as I don't want to look ahead during a playoff run, the thought of Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt, and Whitney Mercilus on the field at once already has me fired up for the future.
I'd much rather win a game making a winning play than win a game because the other team made a losing play, but whatever, the Texans have had their share of bad breaks so nobody's crying for the Bengals. If you're one of those crazy people that thinks the Texans lost the Raiders game because of the refs, consider that loss avenged.
The Texans' defense is simply incredible. Clowney's speed is out of this world, as he outran our secondary while chasing down Brandon LaFell.
Savage gain made some throws that Brock likely couldn't under the same circumstances. It's still hard to know what we have in Tom though, as the offensive line--Jeff Allen in particular--couldn't consistently protect him. Worst of all is the abysmal play calling. This "thumb war" system simply isn't going to get Houston a championship. The special teams unit continues to struggle, and allowed a blocked extra point which made it a 2-point game, which then left the team vulnerable to a field goal threat.
The Texans won a division title because a former kicker missed as time expired, and that seems so appropriate.
I said through most of last week I wanted to see what we had in Tom Savage and whether he could replicate the performance he gave in the Jags game—not making mistakes and looking legitimately good at times. And after the Bengals game, I'm leaning toward him being the beneficiary of a gameplan that involved no blitzing in Jacksonville.
Granted, the offensive line was offensive Saturday, but the offense struggled and sputtered as they have all season. The difference was that had Brock Osweiler been under center, I don't think the Texans win that game. Make no mistake, Savage threw some questionable balls into heavy coverage from time to time, but his throwing mechanics are such that it mitigated his mistakes more than had Osweiler done the same. I don't think the Texans win that game with Osweiler under center, and frankly, I'm not sure they should've won with Savage there either.
Ultimately, the problems in this offense won't be solved with a change in quarterback. It's just too flawed and too conservative (as evidenced by the ultra-conservative playcalling with more than six minutes left to go in the game) for one player to make a difference.
The Bill O'Brien experiment needs to end. I have little reason to think it will after cinching another AFC South title.
That seems to be the mantra surrounding this Texans’ season so far. In the forty years I've been watching the NFL I can't recall a single season performance from any team with so many ugly wins—culminating in a ugly division championship. But, now I can.
While watching the game, I couldn't tell if the scheme was still terrible (although the up-the-gut runs are so predictable the water boy could be calling the plays), the offensive line was abysmal (no wonder Osweiler got skittish very soon after taking the helm at the beginning of the year), Savage isn't all that or a combination of all of the above. You know what, it's Door #4: all of the above.
Either way, we're all aboard the Win Ugly train, next stop Tennessee, where they'll trot out an old man to run their offense and Bill O'Brien will find another ugly way to win.
Battle Red Coat:
For all we complain about the coaching, the fact we're 9-6 is amazing.
I don't think there was great issue with the play calling. You can complain all you like about run-run-pass to start a drive, but not being able to convert on a short third down is more a fault of performance than play calling. In fact, getting to a short third down is a positive, not a negative.
The first two drives were killed by sacks. The next three drives were killed by the inability to convert from under five yards on third down. Running for three yards on both first and second down is a solid base, and under normal circumstances you'd expect to be able to convert around four yards on third down. For one reason or another, we couldn't. C.J. Fiedorowicz dropped an easy catch. A poor route by Will Fuller. A poor pass by Tom Savage. Admittedly, not passing on early downs didn't allow the passing game to get into a rhythm, but these short conversions should be easily manageable.
My major issue with the play calling comes in the red zone. Pass-run-pass each time. Why? I'd rather run on first down and give us two opportunities at a passing it in from two or three yards out.
Anyway, this defense continues to be outstanding, Romeo Crennel is an absolute legend. Jadeveon Clowney is absolutely terrifying. We say this every week, but they deserve it.
I'm old, I've watched a lot of football in my lifetime, and I've got no comparison when it comes to the 2016 Houston Texans. In some ways, they're a lot like the 2015 Denver Broncos. There's a horrid offense with an incredible defense. Yet, the Broncos didn't always look THAT bad offensively, scoring 22.2 points/game, while the Texans manage just 17.5 points/game.
Think about that Texans number. As poor as the Rams' offense has been this year, even when it was manned by #TEAMKEENUM, they score 14.5 points per game. I guess one could say OFFENSIVE SUPERGENIUS Bill O'Brien's mighty all field goal offense is paying off?
The Broncos special teams unit was solid for them in 2015, but it's been atrocious (yet again this year) for the Houston Texans. The 2015 Broncos fielded a historically excellent defense, and while the Texans' defense has been solid, it's a stretch to call them outstanding. Yet, this is the best comp I can come up with.
Where have the Texans excelled? They are lucky. Whether it's dropped interceptions, missed field goals, one possession wins, and playing the Tinkle Kitties twice a year, the Texans are lucky. Some might say, "But bfd, you handsome, virile stud you, you're just diminishing what the team has done." To that, my response is: of course I am.
But allow me to give credit where it's due: Romeo Crennel and a defense that has kept the Texans in games all season. The defense may not be the best statistically, and they spend way too much time on the field, but they still produce. Even with J.J. Watt, the defense's performance should be considered outstanding. Without Watt? Crennel is a freaking wizard (please don't double check with a duck).
No, the Houston Texans don't deserve to be in the playoffs. Two out of their three units are complete frauds. The head coach is a joke. But that defense, though. They deserve to be in the playoffs because they've earned it, and they happen to be so good they can carry two corpses on their back to get there.