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Red Zone Play: The More Things Change...

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The Texans’ loss to the Panthers felt all too familiar...

Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Leading into last weekend, several members of the masthead, including myself, mentioned the likelihood of this having been a trap game for the Texans. Coming off an exciting win, going against a team they should beat all day, facing a backup QB that J.J. Watt and Romeo Crennel could feast on...

But these are the new Houston Texans! They’ve upgraded the offense, shuffled the O-line (again, and again, and again, and again...), tried to pretend they didn’t get worse by jettisoning Jadeveon Clowney, etc. Surely they wouldn’t lose this game. There’s no way.

Then the team hit the field looking flat and lifeless. Been there, seen that.

Then the offense ran several really questionable plays.

Then Bill O’Brien managed the clock poorly.

Then O’Brien lost a challenge and with it a timeout.

Then the offense didn’t get after it with time running out.

And, finally, we find ourselves watching O’Brien take the podium in the post-game presser to tell us all it was his fault and he has to do a better job.

Let’s be very clear here:

Bill O’Brien is not a terrible head coach.

Conversely:

Bill O’Brien is not a great head coach.

If he’s neither good or bad, what is he? Well, plain and simple, he’s average.

Over the course of the last six seasons, over 84 games, O’Brien has a record of 44-40.

That’s what’s called average.

So, it should come as no surprise your Texans are sitting at 2-2 on the year.

The next few games should roll out like this:

Texans v. Falcons - The Texans win and everyone thinks all is well once again.

Texans v. Chiefs - the pregame hypemachine gives people false hope. The Chiefs destroy the Texans, followed by Bill O’Brien telling the press he has to do a better job.

Texans v. Colts - Another trap game where Houston falls to the Colts in Indy. O’Brien states he has to do a better job again. Sound familiar?

Texans v. Raiders - After Oakland gets brutalized by Da Bears and the Packers in consecutive weeks, Chucky and O’Brien have a battle of who-can-not-lose-the-best and the game ends in a tie.

Texans v. Jaguars - Houston finally has the same starting offensive line for the first time all season after giving up 34 sacks on the year. The Texans win.

They head into the bye at 4-4-1 as the mediocrity parade marches on.

At some point, Cal McNair either has to own the “I Don’t Care” hat worn by so many NFL owners who are just fine with telling people they own an NFL team, like one would brag about a sports car or vacation home. That, or McNair has to get serious and find a great coach.

The Texans have a great quarterback in Deshaun Watson - if he doesn’t end up on injured reserve some time before Sack #40. They have a Hall of Fame wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins.They have a Hall of Fame defensive lineman in J.J. Watt

They have an average head coach.

Everything rises and falls with the leader. If the leader is constantly telling everyone he isn’t doing a good job, why does anyone doubt him? He’s not saying he’s doing a terrible job, or that he’s a terrible human being (far from it, as O’Brien seems like a great guy), but if he doesn’t believe in his own ability to be a great coach, why would anyone else?

If you were in Cal McNair’s shoes, what would you do? Try to lead O’Brien better and build him up? Crank the fire up under his seat? Pat him on the back and thank him for stewarding the golden goose? Let us know in the comments box.