A NFL season can slip away instantly. An 0-2 deficit is suffocating. Since teams have played a 16 game schedule, the ones that have started 0-2 have finished the year with an average record of 6-10. And of these teams, only 11.1% of them have made the playoffs. After being outled by the leader of men and losing to their country cousin division rival, the Texans are now stuck trying to became the 11.1% instead of falling farther into this sloppy, Homeward Bound sized hole.
Yesterday was ultimately frustrating because of the context. A week ago, the Texans were once again outplayed and outcoached by the Patriots, making this game a pseudo must-win. Blaine Gabbert was the starting quarterback. The Titans were without both of their starting offensive tackles. Mike Vrabel, Houston’s former underachieving defensive coordinator, was the opposing head coach. Yet they lost to the inverse of the situation they always fall victim to.
It wasn’t that Houston played horribly. It was that the same teeth-picking nightmares continued to plague them. Their special teams forced them to play from behind because they failed to cover the gunner, which will forever be hilarious. Bill O’Brien went conservative, once again, like he always has, and played for the field goal with back-to-back screen passes in Titans’ territory at the end of the game, only to end up punting instead. Going back to last year, the offensive line was once again a mess. As the offensive coordinator, O’Brien failed to manufacture easy yards yet again. When a team plays close, conservative football like O’Brien teams have historically played, these are the problems you fall into. Unless you play perfect football and catch a break or two, like recover a fumble that was knocked out of the bounds at the end of the game, you end up on the losing end instead of the winning one.
After losing this one, and starting 0-2, with a preseason filled with Super Bowl, playoffs at a minimum hope, and 70 touchdown pass dreams, the bonfire is now under Bill O’Brien. Last year could be blamed on injuries. But with the talent on this team, with the roster mostly healthy, and after coming out of the bloody pool of an internal power struggle with Rick Smith as the victor like a heroin in The Descent, starting 0-2 and a January missing the playoffs conclusion doesn’t seem to be an option the fan base can accept.
A coach can float for only so long. He can only hide behind the curtains before the masses finally see his feet sticking out. Despite getting the bare minimum out of a talented team since 2014, getting his teeth kicked in twice a year, kicking quarterback decisions down the street, and helping to make terrible, franchise-stagnating quarterback decisions during that time, wasting the greatest individual defensive player’s prime of all-time, and surviving a 4-12 season with a quarterback he named as the Week One starter instead of Deshaun Watson, O’Brien has survived and was even re-signed. Throughout all of it, O’Brien has kept this same faux machismo and arrogant attitude in praise of his 9-7 accomplishments. But now, in this situation, with these preseason possibilities and a loss next week to the Giants putting the Texans in a trench only 3.3% of teams crawl their way out of, these previous win-loss records could become obsolete.
Love His Hell.
O’Brien didn’t have the team ready for the second week in a row, and his play calling is abysmal. THAT cost them both losses to be 0-2 to start this season in games where the talent on the roster suggests things should be different.
Watson is amazing, but he is still learning. He’ll make mistakes.
The “bend don’t break” defense needs more creativity until the offense can keep up with the opponent (a/k/a/ someone else does the play calling for the offense).
Special teams was horrible today, resulting in a 10-point swing—a fake punt allowed for a touchdown and a missed field goal.
Clowney should walk in free agency if he can’t get on the field. Thanks for the 15-yard penalty, bro.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving.
If, at this point, you are still defending Bill O’Brien, you must not be watching the games. This time, he couldn’t beat a team missing multiple key cogs on the offensive side of the ball.
Worst of all, it’s the same old kitten. Unlike 2017, BOB has not adapted the offense to fit Deshaun Watson’s strengths, instead preferring to revert back to the trash we saw the first four years. The most successful passing plays through the first two games, with one exception (Will Fuller TD), have been broken plays.
Yes, Watson is part of the problem, especially because he has tended to hold onto the ball for too long. But if you know this is a problem, and it’s fair to say that just about every Texans’ fan knows this is a problem, why is BOB not adapting his game plan accordingly?
Even I was excited about this team heading into 2018, but that was based in no small part because BOB’s dumpster fire of an offensive game plan seemed to be a thing of the past. Yet, here we are.
Last week, BOB said about something that “it’s not his job.” The evidence is overwhelming that being an NFL head coach shouldn’t be his job.
But, hey, he didn’t call for a screen pass the last play of the game, SO HE MUST BE IMPROVING.
I Don’t Know If I’m Happy To Be Back, And I Wasn’t Expecting That.
My brain is diseased— Matt Weston (@Mbw987) September 16, 2018
I was backcountry camping in Canada and all I could think about was how excited I was to see Blaine Gabbert play in Tennessee
I’ve been trying to curb my inclination to overthink things lately. To that end, here are my thoughts. Last week Bill O’Brien got schooled by his teacher. Those were, however, perennial Super Bowl contenders. This week, Bill O’Brien got schooled by his student. On paper, it looks like the Texans should have won this game. This game, against a first-year head coach, down a starting QB (who was replaced by a terrible one), down two starters on the offensive line, and down one of their main weapons in TE Delanie Walker.
What else needs to be said? Even if the Texans had pulled out this game at the last second, it’s not a game that should have been a struggle for them if they are actually a good football team.
The reality is, the Texans aren’t good. In a lot of ways they are very bad, not the least of which is the way they seem to lack preparation, on-field awareness, and they appear to have stretches where they play with a low football IQ.
Sure, the players can (and will) improve their on-field performance, but there are some elements to the above list of grievances that have pretty much been the same since Bill O’Brien took over this team. That’s Bill O’Brien—who got what he wanted this offseason—a contract extension, and his own personal pick and friend Brian Gaine as General Manager.
It’ ain’t good, my friends.
Blaine Gabbert: Real American, And Now, NFL Wide Receiver:
Losing to Bill Belichick in New England is one thing. Losing to the guy who couldn’t run Houston’s defense is quite another. For the second game in a row, the team looked totally unprepared. Like Capt Ron said, there’s too much talent on this roster to blame this disaster on anything other than coaching.
The graphic they kept running about how many games Houston has lost by one score or less in recent memory showed where Houston accurately belongs right now: in the basement with teams like the Cleveland Browns. I admit to being a Bill O’Brien apologist in the past. He’s a guy you want to root for, but if he can’t have this team ready to play when game time rolls around, he’s clearly not the coach so many of us hoped he would be.
Maybe Bob McNair can lure Dabo Swinney and his staff away from Clemson.
One More Time.