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Red Zone Play: Flaws With The Houston Texans’ All Field Goal Offense

Why it’s time to pull the plug on Bill O’Brien’s brand of offense.

NFL: New York Giants at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re going to stumble into an offensive scheme that works and then decide you don’t want to use it because it’s not “your” system, and then revert back to a system that hasn’t worked, ever, you might be Bill O’Brien.

But let’s say you are sold on “your” brand of offense, one trademarked with up the gut runs and more field goals than first downs. You might as well sell out for that system, right?

In order to do that, assuming you’re going to continue running plays a Pop Warner linebacker can see coming a mile away, you’re going to need a few things:

  • An offensive line that can run block well enough to get the ball from your own 20-yard line to the opponent’s 35-yard line consistently.
  • A running back with the skill set of Earl Campbell, Jerome Bettis, Marshawn Lynch or any bulldozer built by Caterpillar (take note of Adrian Peterson’s three touchdowns so far this season and the fact that a 21 point swing over three games would mean Houston would currently be 3-0).
  • A money kicker who nails field goals every single time.

In order to truly sell out for this offensive style, you’ll also need to make sure you don’t do a few of these things:

  • Don’t get creative in your play calling by customizing the offense to take advantage of your players’ talents and individual skill sets.
  • Don’t finish more than 20% of your drives with touchdowns.
  • Don’t sign any offensive lineman who can pass block for more than 0.3 seconds.

Most importantly, you’re going to need a defense that ensures the opposing team doesn’t put up more than 14 points, since five field goals in one game is about the most you can hope for based on the history of the NFL.

We all know by now Bill O’Brien can’t seem to pull any of this off, yet this seems to be the MO of the “Billy Ball” brand. It’s safe to assume the Houston Texans are destined for failure as long as this offensive system is in use.

From the “Other Things a Pop Warner linebacker can see a mile away” file:

Bill O’Brien:

”When things don’t go well, and they haven’t gone well lately, it starts with me,” O’Brien said. “There’s a lot of different things that I can do to be better. I’m not going to list them all.”

By “lately”, he means over the last 13 games where Houston has gone 1-12. Gary Kubiak was fired after a better win-loss record than that.

Since it’s highly unlikely Houston can trade Bill O’Brien to the Patriots for Josh McDaniels (you know, the guy who can actually run the fabled Erhardt-Perkins offense without resorting to the All Field Goal variety), we may as well move on to focus on what few positives we have.

J.J. Watt is a back, baby!

From Texans’ PR:

#Texans DE @JJWatt became the 1st player in NFL history with at least 8 total tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 4 quarterback hits & 1 forced fumble in 2 career games (Wk 15 of 2012 vs. IND). Those totals have been reached three times in NFL history & Watt has done it twice

DeShaun Watson looks healthy!

Even though he’s spent most of the season so far running for his life, the upside to that is the obvious: Watson’s legs are fine, and if Houston’s offensive line can gel and build some real pass protection, this guy will be a legit threat for years to come.

Whitney Mercilus has managed to stay un-injured.

Although he hasn’t managed to do much else, Merc is due for a big game soon. Hopefully that happens this weekend against Captain Neckbeard and the Baby Horses.

Yes, other than Watt, we’re scraping the bottom of the happiness barrel here, but there isn’t much sunshine in NRG Park at the moment.

While it makes sense to assume somehow management is tanking the season to load up on draft picks for next year (which a lot of people believe Jon Gruden is doing in Oakland with a far, far less talented roster), chances are this is a case of the obvious answer being the correct answer: Bill O’Brien just isn’t cut out to be a head coach in the NFL.

Time to put on your Bob McNair hat.

In the comments, let us know at what point you pull the plug on the failed Bill O’Brien experiment, who you would replace him with, and what you’d do to correct the team.

(To clarify, by no means are we advocating Josh McDaniels should be Houston’s next head coach. But, at this point, there are dozens of coaches in the Cy-Fair Independent School District who could run this system better than what we’re seeing week in and week out.)