It’s hard to believe that this early in the season the time has come for the Houston Texans organization to put up or shut up. But, sitting at 2-3 with a glimmer of hope that comes from a team who nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory the last two weeks, starring down the best strength of schedule in the NFL over the remaining games, Houston could make some moves and give themselves a real chance at doing something in the post season. Even if that something is make a hasty exit from the AFC Wild Card round.
Commit to the run game
Deshaun Watson is taking a beating trying to improvise behind an offensive line made up of one promising center, a few very green but high upside guys and a handful of traffic cones and caution tape. The best way to keep your quarterback clean and healthy is a solid run game. Oddly enough, committing to the run has never really been an area of weakness for Bill O’Brien’s team, but watching them try to out-scheme the Dallas defense last week with multiple miss-direction pay action plays and designed QB keepers left a lot to be desired. With Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman on the sidelines, the running back room needs help.
Bring back Troymaine Pope. The “pinball with a football” did a thing, or two, in the preseason and might just do it again. if nothing else, he’s a great wing to Alfred Blue’s yang.
Shore up the Secondary and Lock up the Honey Badger
Tyrann Mathieu is one of the very few bright spots in the Houston secondary so far this season. He plays with confidence, intelligence and swagger that Houston has rarely, if ever, had from the safety position. Putting him at the heart of the Texans secondary for years to come will add stability, fire and leadership. With so many players landing in free agency in the 2019 off-season, the Honey Badger would be a great foundation that Houston can build on.
Beat the bushes and find at least two more cornerbacks to sign. Jonathan Joseph won’t be around much longer, Kevin Johnson may not either and Kareem Jackson isn’t the long term answer to any question Romeo Crennel should be asking. While they’re at it, signing Jadeveon Clowney might be useful to save some coin, too. Maybe J.J. Watt can restructure his deal to help them resign Clowney...
Send Bill O’Brien to Offensive Coordinator School
The local flag football association has a more diverse playbook available for coaches than what it seems Bill O’Brien installs each week. How on earth you can have three trips inside the red zone and not come away with a touchdown when you have arguably the scariest wide receiver corps in the NFL, the most promising second year QB in the league and a propensity to run the ball up the A-gap three out of four plays is mind boggling. Newsflash: The All Field Goal Offense is not a viable game plan!
Hand the offensive play calling duties over to someone, anyone, who can actually call a game the opposing defensive coordinator doesn’t see coming a week in advance.
Beat Teams The Texans Should Beat!
Losing to the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants was fairly well inexcusable. Neither of those teams is a threat to do anything in the post season. With games coming top against similar level teams like the Buffalo Bills. Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns anything less than 8-4 by week 13 is inexcusable.
Identify someone already on the coaching staff who has a history of getting teams ready to play and put that person in charge of the game plan so Bill O’Brien can focus solely on “...do a better job of...” fill-in-the-blank.
Decide Right Now if They’re Playing for 2018 or 2019
Sure this sounds crazy, but having the 27th pick in the draft won’t help Houston land a great young offensive tackle in what some are calling the best offensive line draft in over a decade. Let’s face it, with just two more high quality offensive linemen (and some pro-level play calling) the Houston offense could easily become the scariest one this league has seen in a long, long time.
Put Bill O’Brien on notice that one more loss means the ejector seat button gets smashed and he’s launched into the ex-coach stratosphere. Houston would then have the pick of the litter for a new head coach, a pile of higher draft picks and a core of great players - some with many years still ahead of them - to build on for the future.
What do you think? Have a list of your own? Post your prescriptions in the comments section.