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Incompletions: Texans-Bills (Can’t Die)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, and not enough time for one person to write about it all, the masthead joins together and writes about the never-ending absurdity.

Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Matt Weston:

In the first half of the Texans-Bills game, the scoreboard clicked its way to 10-0. Houston turned a blocked punt and a muffed punt into ten points. The offense seemed like it was moving better than it really was at the time because of Buffalo’s two punting errors.

My brain lied to me. I was dumb. I felt this game would be a nice stroll, like those halcyon days in 2012 when Houston would beat a bad team 24-10 in a ho-hum suit and tie manner. I split my tongue into a fork and reconfirmed what was false. Because, you know, those ten easy points.

But nothing is easy this year for the Houston Texans. Despite the talent on the field and the relative health—everyone has injuries, but Houston still has yet to lose any of their top players—every game has to be some sort of Thursday Night Football drama. Every game has to be a philosophical argument about whether the quarterback should be used as a runner, to what extent an offense should go to protect its offensive tackles, the effectiveness of play-action, and the pooling of money together to get Bill O’Brien sent to a summit in Bryan, Texas to learn theories of timeout management. Even against putrid teams like Indianapolis, and now the Bills, a calm Sunday afternoon becomes emergency clanging.

10-0 became 10-3 after a Deshaun Watson interception. 10-3 became 10-6 after a three and out and an absurd 39 yard Josh Allen completion to Kelvin Benjamin put Buffalo in the vicinity of field goal range. 10-6 became 10-13 after Deshaun Watson was strip-sacked and Nathan Peterman made the first and only good throw of his career.

2-3 needed to become 3-3. 2-4 would extinguish this season’s wallowing, trudging momentum. 10-13 became 13-13 after a pass-heavy drive. And 13-13 became 20-13 once Peterman revealed his true self and autographed a touchdown to Johnathan Joseph.

It would have been tense and wrinkly. Exultations would have been emitted, but it’s all just so exhausting, because like last week, and the week before that, it shouldn’t have come to this. The Bills have the worst offense in football this year. To even be put in this situation against the Bills, you have to turn the ball over. Houston did exactly that. They handed it over three times. They made a game out of something that never should have been a game. Sure, they turned an 0-3 one-possession record into a 3-3 one-possession record, and it’s a “W’ to sink a fork and knife into. However, good teams don’t need a pick-six to stave off overtime against the Bills. Good teams trample Buffalo and win 30-10. Houston isn’t a good team right now. Its performance doesn’t match its talent level. What’s weighing them down is head coach Bill O’Brien, who once again gets to masquerade behind the team’s record and the AFC South being bad again.

What’s dead can never die, I guess.

Capt Ron:

The Texans’ record is 0-6 if not for two bad overtime coaching decisions by the opponent’s head coach and the bumbling performance of one Nate Peterman.

This red zone plague by O’Brien’s offense is mindnumbingly unacceptable. The sample size isn’t small. The Texans’ GM and owner should force an OC change or fire him on the spot. Period.

Thanks for the “W,” but it’s another miserable performance that feels like a loss.

I’m sorry for sounding so negative. Let me try a more positive statement:

Nate Peterman engineered a game-winning drive to lead the Houston Texans to victory!


It should feel better being 3-3 than 0-6, but it really doesn’t.


Only one person has made Brain O’Brain look like a remotely competent head coach: Romeo Crennel. In his three-plus seasons as O’Brain’s defensive coordinator (and before you start, Mike Vrabel was the DC last season), Crennel’s defense has repeatedly kept O’Brain’s crappy offenses in games.

Let’s look at the scoring drives on Sunday, with mad props to the special teams unit:

* Drive starts at BUF 29 after a fumbled punt. Deshaun Watson to DeAndre Hopkins for the TD.

* Blocked punt results in the Texans getting the ball at BUF 21, which results in a field goal.

* Houston drives 94 yards on nine (9) plays, but the Texans cannot punch it in after being 1st and goal at the one (1). Field goal. The first down call to run Alfred Blue up the middle was the ultimate Brain O’Brain play call.

* Jonathan Joseph scores on an interception return.

This is yet another game won in spite of Brain O’Brain, not because of him.

After seeing Deshaun Watson last year, is this what you expected? I was promised unicorns, and I don’t have my kittenkittening unicorn. Instead, we still have the Old Poodle Offense dry-humping its way down the field until it’s time to punt or kick a field goal.

And who knew that having a franchise left tackle might be a good thing?

There’s always an excuse for BOB, and they aren’t de facto invalid. Yes, there are serious problems on the roster, thanks in huge part to Rick Smith. Yes, the offensive line is terrible, but BOB does nothing to alleviate this problem like moving the pocket or running effective play-action. Yes, Watson holds onto the ball too long, but BOB does nothing to game plan for this aside from the kitteny-designed screen passes.

This offense has far too much talent to consistently look this terrible, and it comes back to the one person in charge of that squad.

Where is my kitten kitten unicorn?

Luke Beggs:

The menagerie of quarterbacks that rolled through the past couple of years with Bill O’Brien dodging bullets like Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix” created a desperation for a quarterback like the one Deshaun Watson was for five or so weeks last season.

That was the good stuff. Once we tried that, only that would be good enough from then on. That’s why it stings to watch the Texans play like they did yesterday. We thought that the worst of it was past us, and now it seems like we’re still in the midst of it.

This was still kind of silly because Watson wasn’t perfect last year. He just was so much better than what we had in the past, so we expected a natural progression and for the mistakes he made last year to just get ironed out as he matured. This doesn’t take into account a offensive line that has been terrible. What I think doesn’t get enough attention is the idea of Bill O’Brien as a play-caller regressing to a mean; that five game stretch of exciting offensive football last year was as much of a anomaly for Watson as it was for O’Brien.


Things I never, ever want to see on my phone ever again:

Defenstrate Ryan Griffin.

Diehard “Always Settle” Chris:

The Texans only escaped a third straight overtime game because they benefited from arguably the worst quarterback situation in the NFL.

This, for me, was the most revealing game of the season so far. The Texans struggled mightily against a BAD team, at home, and there’s something disturbing about the “energy level” of this offense. I’m never a guy that notices that kind of stuff or whines about body language... but there’s just something off about it. I know it doesn’t help when your QB is getting obliterated 10+ times per game; however, folks seem to forget this offensive line was HORRIBLE last year as well. I’m not sure why it just seemed better-equipped to handle it last season.

The one thing I hang my hat on is that Deshaun Watson still looks really good when he’s able to get in a rhythm. By that I mean I know Watson has struggled this year, but I think we know by now he wasn’t a one-season Rookie Wonder. The obvious problem, of course, is that there’s nothing that tells us we’ll see Deshaun in a rhythm much this year other than in fits and starts. This of course is all wrapped in a season-long feeling of dread as the Deshaun Watson injury watch hangs like the Sword of Damocles over all of us.