My first encounter of the Texans playing the Patriots is a fictitious one. I was twelve or whatever at a Best Buy off San Pedro and 410 with my old man. We walked around and looked at things we wouldn’t buy. Usually this would be a lot of reading the back of games and staring at album covers, like this and this, and thinking that’s what it means to be an adult.
This trip, I found my way in front of a Playstation tied to a monitor with the new Madden emblazoned with Marshall Faulk spinning around the bowels. I started a quick game. I picked the Texans, who were like a 47 overall, and played the Patriots, who were a 99 overall, the best team in the game. I also played the Patriots on the road in the polygonal snow. Tom Brady proceeded to throw quick passes everywhere. Evisceration. I lost a lot to a little.
After the game was over, Pops was ready to go. I was pissed about losing to the cheating computer. If the game occurred in my own home, a controller probably would have ended up in a body shop. On the way out of the automatic doors and away from the blue shirted proletariat, I said, "I hope the real Texans beat the Patriots this year."
He told me, "They aren’t playing this regular season."
"Well, I hope they beat them in the playoffs."
He snorted with a laugh. "I’m sorry, son. The Texans are an expansion team. They won’t be making the playoffs this year."
I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Last night, Houston lost to New England 27-0. It was just another suture in the Texans' cadaver that lies in a New England morgue. They are 1-5 against the Pats. They’ve beaten NE once, way back in Week 17 of the 2010 season. Other than that, before last night, the Texans had lost 20-23 (2003), 7-40 (2006), 14-42 (2006), 28-41 (2013), 31-34 (2013), and 6-27 (2015). The point differential is 112 to 220.
Bill Belichick and his staff completely outcoached this team again. They shut down the Texans’ offense by playing two deep safeties and bracketing both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins. With these two pseudo-doubled, Brock Osweiler was forced to make tough tight throws or toss it meekly underneath. He did a little bit of both. Neither worked out. His longest completion was 18 yards, and it took spectacular throws and catches to get it to Hopkins. He averaged 4.7 yards an attempt and was stuck tossing it into the flat.
New England also used their front seven to obliterate the Texans' interior run blocking, tackled well, and forced Lamar Miller to run the ball a lot for a little. For the third straight game, Miller averaged less than four yards a carry. That’s not going to make safeties come up to open the passing game.
With third string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brisket, hey scored 27 points. New England used jet sweeps, misdirection, and option plays to get into the second level of the Texans’ defense, where they took advantage of their tackling issues. These plays also hampered the pass rush. The Patriots also schemed to get as many double teams as possible on J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. As a result, they were able to use three days to get a rookie quarterback to competently perform against a top six defense. Of course, the two possessions that started in Houston’s end after fumbled kickoffs were a tremendous help, but New England still converted these opportunities into touchdowns. In every way, offensively, defensively, and special teamsy, the Texans were outplayed and outcoached.
None of this is surprising, though. The Texans lost to the Patriots. They have, and we should always expect this to happen, no matter who the quarterback is, as long as Bill Belichick is there.
You watched this game. You don't need me to rub salt in the wounds, so I won't do a lot of recollecting of the facts.
I hadn't ever really doubted Bill O'Brien as a head coach before this game. But after that? After 11 drives worth of staring vacantly at Cover-2 and being surprised that Lamar Miller and a patchwork offensive line wasn't enough to bring the safeties close? I dunno what to tell you. Maybe O'Brien is playing his cards close to the vest. Maybe your go-to excuse is that he didn't have enough time to game plan this week. OK, maybe. But to come out with this flat, listless offense and not even have a second plan beyond "let's check it down to Ryan Griffin and run draws on the goal line down 20 points"? My kitten detector is going off.
And uh, yeah, I'm ready to create a Kickstarter to kidnap Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub and give him a blank check. The Texans spent all offseason collecting fast guys, but somewhere between the coaching and their actual football IQ, the results haven't changed.
On the Nose With Shaun Cody:
Well, I gave O'Brien and Godsey a pass when they chose to put Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Brian Hoyer at the controls with only one real weapon to work with in DeAndre Hopkins. Now they are loaded with weapons and arguably better talent (even if barely) at QB, and they can't seem to get this KITTEN thing to function.
If I'm Bob McNair, I'm calling both of those coaches in for a chewing. It's been three KITTENING years and this offensive system is a slow moving train wreck that needs to be bailed out by the defense in nearly every game.
I predicted this would be another ugly game, but I meant for both teams, not just the Texans. Houston was awful in nearly every aspect of the game. The Patriots executed a solid game plan and proved, at least for now, they're definitely the better team.
Well, DirecTV can't stand the NFL Network. Normally the fact that NFLN doesn't usually function on my screen is annoying. Tonight, it's a blessing. There will come a day where the Texans can go into any stadium and leave with a victory. That day is not today.
I don't even know what I expected to happen. Why am I even surprised by this kitten anymore?
Vince Wilfork Was Born to be Crying Jordaned:
I Feel the Same After Every Third Down Draw:
Brock Osweiler would have to improve a lot to draw Matt Schaub comparisons (at least the good Schaub). He strikes me as Brian Hoyer with a bigger arm and a slightly stronger mental state.
It's weird how much things change in a week. One week ago, If you asked me who was going to win this, I would have said the Pats without a moment's hesitation. But as soon Jimmy Garappolo went down with an injury, that changed. Suddenly it was Jacoby Brissett. A rookie with only two quarters of NFL game experience. This was suddenly a game the Texans should win. But the Pats are a team that defies logic and general conceptions, and they spent Thursday evening proving just that.
It was soul-crushing to watch that game. It was the potential that the Texans' season promised crushed right before us.
The really interesting thing is just how this will define the season going forward. The Texans could still make the playoffs and comfortably finish with double digit wins. The problem is that even if that occurs, there is always the eternal knowledge that this team is just not good enough to progress any further than the AFC South. The best case scenario for the rest of this season is finding out whether or not it's only the Pats we can't beat or it's more of the AFC's best.
O'Brien inexplicably calls the Seattle pick play against Malcolm Butler, who made his career by interceptin... https://t.co/xXpKnKxfZf— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) September 23, 2016
Since I picked the Patriots to win this game, I'm not at all surprised by the outcome--but at no point did I expect this complete meltdown from top to bottom of both the coaching staff and the roster.
The offensive gameplan was confusing and seemingly non-existent. Once the Texans got down 10, they continued to play as if they had a lead. I guess?? So many times they conceded on third and long, so many times they were clearly running plays just to limit the chance of turnovers. You paid your QB gobs of money. Put him out there and make him make a throw! Don't protect the guy!
That being said, I've said from the jump that this team was going to be a work in progress in the early part of this season. I would be SHOCKED if we have any performances like this in the middle to late part of the season.
Last night we just got buzzsaw'd, and NOBODY got their kittens kicked more than Bill O'Brien did by the hand of Bill Belichick. Not. Even. Close.
If Touchdowns Were at the 50 Yard Line, the Texans Would Have 6 Points:
What a moment: pic.twitter.com/KSQrbmGuy7— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 23, 2016
I don't even want to effing think about what happened last night. This was the first time I thought the Texans had a legitimate shot to beat the Patriots. Man, was I way the hell wrong.
Apparently, all you need is to have a competent team, and then let Tyler Ervin and Charles James do their thing on special teams, and they'll give you all the possessions/points you could possibly ask for.
But that's only a part of the aggravation. Between the abject incompetence on special teams, the expert comedic timing of the defense, the non-existent offense, the absurd clock management decisions, everything the Texans did, with the possible exception of a couple of Hopkins catches and that Benardrick McKinney sack, was wrong.
What is ultimately worrisome for me is Brock. I felt like this was going to be his first real acid test to see how far he's come along as a quarterback. I mean, you can't count the Bears and really, the Chiefs aren't what they were last year. After watching him tonight, I'm not done with him, but I'm far less convinced today that he's the guy. At the moment, I would say my opinion of him is that he's a taller, less accurate incarnation of Matt Schaub; and not even happy, fun Matt Schaub either.
With that, I'll conclude with my final statement from Hair of the Dog: Kitten this game.
The national narrative on this game will be "Bill Belichick Wins With Third String QB!!!!!" But it was so, so much more than that.
The second the Texans' offense came on the field for the first drive, I found myself thinking that while the entire week was dedicated to discussion about the Patriots' QB situation, there was very little discussion around the Texans' offense which, outside of the second half against Chicago, has been fairly listless this season. The Pats came out in a standard Cover 2, and so O'Brien decides to run. And run. Only, it wasn't working.
"No problem," I thought. "O'Brien's a sharp enough fellow to know when he has to shift things up, and New England still has to muster points of their own with their rookie third stringer. So long as the Texans can avoid doing anything stupid, things should work out in the end. I mean, it's not like the Texans are going to get shut out here."
Yeah... about that...
Instead, O'Brien stuck to his game plan that he dusted off from a 1985 time capsule, and the special teams triggered memories of 2013. I'm fairly certain that Joe Marciano was watching this game thinking, "What the kitten did you fire me for?" Every Texans drive seemingly started at the 11, while every ball and break went the Patriots' way (I'm not blaming the result on luck or refs, but when you're outplayed, outcoached, AND outlucked, you end up with, well, this). The Texans were completely unable to counter the Patriots' defensive game plan-they couldn't even force the Pats to make an adjustment-and the Texans were unable to force the game into Brissett's hands, thus allowing them to stick to a fairly simple game plan that negated the Texans potent pass rush.
The game absolutely could not have played out better for New England and worse for Houston. If you were to write down the best and worst case scenarios that could happen before this game, you still wouldn't have come up with this.
All teams put up an absolute kitten of a game on occasion. The Texans laid an total egg against the Dolphins last year. These same Patriots of two years ago lost 41-14 against the Chiefs (with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski) before going on to win the Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks are absolutely incapable of beating the freaking Rams. This offense is still very young, has a patchwork offensive line, and will improve. I don't suggest that this portends great things in the future, but merely that all is not lost.
Still, though, that absolutely, kittening sucked.
I want to start with a positive from last night's game. What happened in Foxborough before a national audience was a total team effort. Every segment of the Texans' roster contributed. Offense, defense, special teams...they all came together. It was teamwork in the truest sense of the word.
That unity produced a performance that, try as I might, I remain unable to process. The Texans looked totally and utterly unprepared while the Patriots, who were STARTING A ROOKIE QUARTERBACK ON A SHORT WEEK, appeared to know exactly what to do to shut down their opponent. The Texans turned the ball over three times and didn't force a single turnover from any Patriot, including THE ROOKIE QUARTERBACK WHO WAS STARTING ON A SHORT WEEK. It's really special when you have two fumbles on returns by two different players in a single game. You really don't see that every day.
As thinking about this is only making my head throb even more, I'm going to end by echoing what Vega said. The Texans turned in a pair of gigantic failures against the Dolphins and Falcons last year before righting the ship. I don't expect what happened last night to happen again.
Well, at least not until the playoffs, when the Texans travel to New England and get pantsed anew.
THE HOUSTON TEXANS HAVE GONE
2 0 GAMES WITHOUT EMBARRASSING THEMSELVES.
Over the past 20 games, the Texans have been blown out five (5) times. That's a completely ridiculous rate of complete and total fail. Being the last to add content to this post, I don't have much to add besides one thing.
Bill O'Brien will no longer receive my benefit of the doubt until he starts winning games we aren't supposed to win. Sadly, last night was a game we should've won, but every aspect of the team failed spectacularly. And that's on BOB. Being destroyed 25% of the time - not even being competitive! - is not acceptable for a team with this much talent.
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