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Red Zone Play: Houston Texans Can’t Afford Not to Change

If Things Stay The Same, Expect More Pain

Wild Card Round - Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Houston football club has produced several seasons in a row with very similar results. A team that takes the field multiple times a year looking confused and unprepared, poor in-game coaching decisions, multiple key injuries, porous offensive line play and a secondary that gives up big plays like it’s cool.

Whatever Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel and the rest of the coaching staff did to prepare the team for week one, two, three and seventeen clearly didn’t work. Showing up in New England to play Bill Belichick and Tom Brady that way is akin to forfeiting the game. Doing it in the Wild Card Round in your own house is begging to get fired.

Deciding to run the ball up the gut on first and second downs more than any team in the league with a running back corps that features one guy who can get it done in Lamar Miller, one guy who could get it done if the offensive line was top ten and a mixture of guys who’ve never gotten it done is just poor foresight on the game planner/play caller... i.e. Bill O’Brien.

The injury bug has decimated the Texans two straight seasons. While they made a move last off-season to address it by revamping their workout programs, it had mixed results.

In the 2018 season, Houston did see some rather miraculous improvements in injury recovery from Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt, but losing Will Fuller V and having spotty contributions from KeKe Coutee, D’Onta Foreman and others gave mixed results when scoring one-and-done strength and condition coach Luke Richesson.

When you look at the teams who made it to the divisional round, and those still alive to play in the Championship games, the solidness of their offensive lines is clear for all to see. The L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff was sacked 33 times all year versus Deshaun Watson’s 65 times. And the “Watson holds onto the ball too long” argument doesn’t hold water as Goff isn’t Kurt Warner’s quick release second coming by any stretch of the imagination.

The Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes was sacked less than half the times Watson was (30) while Todd Gurley managed to rack up 1251 rushing yards to Lamar Miller’s 973. And Miller’s longest run was the epic 97 yarder while Gurley’s longest of the year was only 37.

Talking about the issues with the cornerbacks has been an annual thing since Rick Smith let A.J. Bouye out of the building a few years ago. With father time catching Jonathan Joseph faster than Joseph can close on an opposing wide receiver, Kevin Johnson’s inability to show he was worth more than a 4th round pick and Aaron Colvin’s inability to stay on the field, Houston’s cornerback room is almost as bad as the offensive line group.

Factor in the blind officiating that allows J.J. Watt to wear opposing offensive lineman as necklaces, Jadeveon Clowney to get tackled multiple times a game and its amazing Houston won as many games as they did in 2018.

When it comes down to it, however, every team deals with injuries, bad calls and blind luck that goes against them - well, maybe not the Patriots, but that’s a subject for another time.

As Brian Gaine enters his first full offseason, with a solid chance to upgrade and retool the Houston Texans roster, there is definitely hope for the player component of this team. With just a handful of key new players, the Texans roster could rocket into the stratosphere of NFL talent.

But that doesn’t address the lack of game prep, poor offensive scheming and atrociously predictable play calling.

Last week, we ran a poll to see who you felt was to blame for Houston’s insulting exit from the playoffs. It’s not a surprise that 55% of the Battle Red faithful felt Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien (and to some extent Romeo Crennel) was to blame and should find himself in the unemployment line.

With guys like Mike McCarthy still out there, Cal McNair has options if he’s going to make a change. Chances are, that won’t happen as McNair is most likely waiting to see what O’Brien and Gaine can do with a full year together. But, that still leaves the option of hiring an offensive coordinator - which McNair should insist on after years of O’Brien proving he can’t get the job done.

So, here’s today’s question:

Who would you bring in as an offensive coordinator, if you were Cal McNair?

Or, would you just clean house right now and try to get ahead of the closing window that is the Texans veteran core of top flight players?

Give us your thoughts in the comments box.