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Incompletions: Texans-Ravens (Out Of Manna)

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 horrors from Baltimore.

NFL: NOV 17 Texans at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Matt Weston:

Look at the Raven. He has a cute little sweater on. It even has the Baltimore Ravens logo embedded on it. I’m sure he needs it. It looks so cold up there in Baltimore.

Think about the Raven, and all those Ravens you’ve seen before. Scurrying around National Park dumpsters; waddling up to you and your campsite with a monocle over one eye, cawing, with confidence that exudes an intelligence higher than your own, drawing your attention away from his posse stealing your wallet, keys, and nitrate infused lunch meat; flying way up in the blue sky, just a dot in your eye; turning the desert into a high school cafeteria buzzing with conversation. Think about these Ravens. Don’t think about those.

Jacoby Jones dropped punts, T.J. Yates frozen interceptions, Tom Savage strip sacks, Andre Johnson red shirt barely two feet in bounds Monday Night it doesn’t matter, a pick six of their own during Matt Schaub’s career ruining steak. J.J. Watt once ate a burrito. Don’t think about those Ravens.

Those Ravens just beat the Houston Texans 41-7, and they did it by infecting all those wounds we had brought to attention during the last month when Houston beat Kansas City, Oakland, and Jacksonville. To paraphrase Mike Meltser paraphrasing Jeff Van Gundy, you don’t want to ignore the things in wins that you would make a point of correcting in losses. This is what happened.

The same offense that had terrorized crappy linebackers like Reggie Ragland, Ben Niemann, Anthony Morrow, Tahir Whitehad, Myles Jack, and Austin Calitro, who can’t even cover Ryan Griffin, couldn’t do the same against an intelligent Baltimore front. They loaded the box. They ignored and ran under Darren Fells motions, and had the safety scrape over the top. The focal point of their offense was out of ink.

They tried to use the same deep passing combinations they’ve run all season. These didn’t work. They ran a lot of isolation routes against a great coverage secondary. That didn’t work. Their run offense can’t create on its own, and instead needs to be set up by the offense itself. The rest of the offense couldn’t. They threw on every third down except for one. Carlos Hyde was tackled for a one year loss. Two third downs were converted. The rest had Deshaun Watson scrambling from big blitzes. Once he twisted his ankle this thing was finished. The wizard ran out of mana, and out of town portals with no fresh corpses around, he couldn’t portal back to town and purchase more.

The secondary is passable one if a team has a pass rush. The Texans don’t have one. It doesn’t exist. J.J. Watt is out for the season, which now makes it three out of the last four. Jadeveon Clowny was traded for Jacob Martin, who was crop dusted by Lamar Jackson, Gareon Conley, who gave up a touchdown after getting beat in man coverage, like he has all season, and this time he unsuccessfully couldn’t chase back and play the ball, and BIG PLAY BARKEVIOUS MINGO, who almost chased down the fake field goal attempt before A.J. Moore stole his glory. Whitney Mercilus’s pass rushes are worthless without the interior of the pocket collapsing under the quarterback. Lamar Jackson had clean pockets to throw from, and from there he used his obscene ball placement to complete passes to every cross section of the field.

Houston left the scented items out: deodorant, hand sanitizer, tooth paste, hot dog water, bean cans, energy bar wrappers. They sauntered to the bathroom and sat for decades. They hung out at the campground hosts RV. They walked to the store to buy ice. The Chiefs, Raiders, and Jaguars couldn’t overcome their disadvantages. The Ravens could. They pillaged, they shredded, they stole, and they flew away bellyful, screeching and yapping. The things that were ignored came back to horrify.



1. The Ravens were just the better team today. They’re the best team in the NFL, even better than the Saints at this point. In all three phases of the game, the Ravens outplayed the Texans. Bill O’Brien can learn lessons on how to design an offense to cater to his franchise quarterback’s strengths.

2. Not making excuses here, but the officiating today impacted the dynamic of the game. That blatant non-pass interference call really changed the game early. Had that penalty been called, the Texans get the ball on the 1 yard line and go up 7-0 in the first quarter. Here’s not to say they’d win, but I know for a fact that this game wouldn’t be a blowout. When will the NFL hold the referee’s accountable for their performances? They really impacted the game early. This is the second time the refs blatantly took a TD away from us, the first time in the Colts game earlier when they prematurely called Watson down for a sack when he threw a touchdown pass. Something has to be done about the officiating.

3. We thought that the Texans turned things around when they defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but O’Brien still can’t prepare the Texans to play elite teams in the NFL. Granted he shouldn’t get the full blame for this game, everyone besides Deandre Hopkins played poorly.

4. I know it’s expected, but I don’t believe the Texans are as bad as the score indicated today. Today wasn’t their day at all. I do believe they can make a run in the playoffs.

Well, we got spanked today. Can’t do anything about it except move on to Thursday’s game against the Colts. I still expect the Texans to win that game. No way they can poop the bed twice, right….right?



This week was bad. Perhaps that is a bit of an oversimplification but the reality is that the Texans didn’t look anywhere near good enough to be on the same field as the Ravens. There are two things that I think contributed to this loss in significant ways: the refs and Bill O’Brien.

First, the refs missing that pass interference call was a big deal. I understand that the Texans still only put on 7 points and gave up 40+ for the game but that doesn’t absolve the refs of guilt. The understanding when the pass intereference challenge rule was put into place was that it would eliminate bad missed calls exactly like the one on Hopkins. It has become increasingly clear that the NFL simply doesn’t care and is unwilling to hold any referee accountable. Refs will continue missing these calls and the reviews will continue to be a joke. The NFL claims to care about the integrity of the game but if this year is proving that they don’t care as long as people continue to watch the games.

Hopkins speaking out against the refs after the game was an important step in the right direction. As one of the best wide receivers in the league, his voice will carry a little more weight. Sure, he’ll get fined but it’s well worth it. When your star players are speaking out on how bad things are getting, you have a problem. I doubt the NFL will do anything in-season but during the off-season we should see some changes being implemented.

That being said, the refs weren’t nearly as big a problem as the Texans head coach. If you are a Bill O’Brien defender, it’s time to stop ignoring the reality of what he is as a head coach and recognize his obvious limitations. This team will never win a Super Bowl with Bill O’Brien. He simply lacks the ability to prepare teams for big games. Not only do the Texans look ill-prepared in these games, they look completely overwhelmed.

I know that Bill O’Brien has complete control of this team, but I have to be willing to believe that if the Texans suffer anymore horrendous losses against elite competition, he is at least somewhat on the chopping block. For instance, say the Texans make the playoffs but get blown out in the first game. Is there anyone who is willing to guarantee that BOB is safe after that? I doubt it, but the Texans ownership has been oblivious in the past.

I don’t want to overreact to just one game but I think this weeks loss really showed where the Texans stand in the pecking order of the AFC. They are a good team, maybe even a great one, but they aren’t elite. They won’t be able to hang come playoff time and we’ll spend another year watching the Super Bowl thinking about what might have been.


Diehard Chris:

There was a lot of excitement after the Texans beat up on the Jaguars in London. I’m not entirely sure why, other than they did exactly what they should have done in that game. The disappointment about Baltimore is more about how far they have to go and HOW they lost the game, more so than the loss itself. To get blown out like that after the bye week is an embarrassment, period. That said, we should never really expect coaching and preparation to be a reason why the Texans win a game. They just don’t have one of the better coaches or staffs. It shows in their preparedness level, it shows in their scripted first-drive plays, it shows in their game-planning, it shows in their lack of adjustments, it shows in their pre-snap penalties on offense, etc. Let’s also not avoid the fact that Deshaun Watson just wasn’t good yesterday, and we can point to a lot of reasons, including the return of the offensive line being bad - but also a return to Watson holding the ball too long and just trying to make too much happen.

The Texans need to bounce back in a hurry and they can get the good feelings rolling again if they can get their [KITTEN] together enough to win the next two games. For me, they needed to win two of three of at Baltimore, vs. Indy, vs. New England for me to have any belief that they can contend for anything more than another AFC South participation award.


Capt. Ron:

1. The NFL does not have integrity with respect to officiating. Full. Stop. For that reason, my long-time passion for watching football is waning in the worst way. I was never a fan of professional wrestling due to the scripted and fake nature of it. I watch sports to see the best athletes in a given domain compete against each other. If the game feels rigged or leveraged by officiating then I’m out. This is not a good use of my time, nor is it entertaining.

2. Bill O’Brien is not capable of preparing the Texans for elite competition. Sure, he can win the division title against an average AFC South in any given season, but he has yet to take down the best teams in the league in any of his six years as the head coach of Houston. That’s consistently true during the regular season, and it is sadly evident in the post-season. He had TWO weeks to prepare for this game, and that debacle is what he delivered? This is not a good use of my time, nor is it entertaining.

3. Many have raised concern about just how complicated O’Brien’s offensive scheme is through the years, and how long it takes to learn and execute, but this game shows just how much that seems to affect execution by the players: lining up incorrectly (even after taking a timeout after lining up incorrectly), frequently running the wrong routes, confusion across the offensive line regarding the protection on a given play, and so on. He is not a good offensive coordinator: designing plays, calling plays, overall game management, etc. Until Cal figures this out, the Texans will continue to be average to slightly above average regardless of any talent on the roster.

Three key points is enough. I have better things to do with my time. If the NFL doesn’t care enough about officiating, and Cal McNair doesn’t care enough about who’s at the controls of this franchise, then why should I care? The NFL product sucks and the Texans’ product sucks.



In my opinion, only two games in NFL history were lost because of the officiating: 1979 AFC Championship Game where Mike Renfro’s feet are still in, and the 2018 NFC Championship Game where yeesh. That’s it. The Texans did not lose yesterday because of the refs.

Instead, Sunday was yet another reminder that Bill O’Brien is a middling head coach and horrible offensive coordinator. The contrast between BOB’s game plan for Deshaun Watson and John Harbaugh’s for Lamar Jackson was striking, and not in a good way.

The simple fact is that the Houston Texans have been extraordinarily lucky this year. Leonard Fournette was stopped by an inch. Instead of playing Nick Foles twice and Cam Newton once, the Texans faced backups. We played the Chiefs with a dinged up and Patrick Mahomes and a missing Chris Jones. Throw in the one score games, and the Texans could as easily be 3-7 as they are 6-4. Without Deshaun Watson, this team would be a nightmare.

For me, however, the worst part about yesterday’s game is that it took Watson, at least for now, out of the MVP conversation. The sad fact is that there is only one coach in the NFL capable of stopping Watson, and it’s Bill O’Brien.