Texans Game 2 - "Oh, When Will They Ever Learn?"

Listening to a few minutes of the post game press conference with Bill O'Brien made one float back to a classic anti-war song written by Pete Seeger and sung by Peter Paul and Mary. (And no this was not from either the Revolutionary or Civil Wars for all those young 'uns who have never have heard of it.) The song was Where Have All the Flowers Gone and the relevant lyrics are "Oh, when will they ever learn?"

The post game presser was disturbing as Coach BOB tied his words and himself into a pretzel to deflect a question. The reporter (Brian T. Smith I believe) was making a reasonable query. What about clock management in the first half, when the Texans went to the locker room with 2 precious timeouts in their pockets after a drive that afforded at least one great opportunity (after a Hop catch with about 40 seconds left) to stop the clock? The Texans ended up having to kick a chip shot FG on second down mostly because of 20 seconds or so that disappeared from the clock when they were moving up and resetting after that catch. BOB basically said that the drive went exactly as they planned. The same reporter asked a reasonable follow up question - you planned on only kicking a FG? At which time BOB blamed the team's inability to get off multiple plays to the end zone in the last 9 seconds as the thing they need to work on this week.

Folks we are heading into Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong Un territory here - you know the N. Korean leaders who let stories out about themselves making 11 holes in one in their first golfing round (not at Putt Putt) or driving at 3 years old. Or where they kill off family members (Jadeveon Clowney?) who don't quite toe the line. Does BOB really believe that he handled clock management well on that drive, like he has bungled it so many times along the way? Are any of his minions allowed to tell him that the emperor/football guru is wearing his birthday suit?

BOB did some good things on this afternoon. He had the team go for it on 4th down in the second half near the goal line, when they desperately needed to put some distance between themselves and the Jags. He even chose the right play, a Watson keeper (which he should have also called when they tried to go one yard against the Pats towards the end of that game in 2018). In addition, he made a challenge at the right time early on the Jags last gasp scoring drive when Leonard Fournette appeared to be shorter on a 4th down run than he was on the two point conversion try a few minutes later. These were both things BOB of even last year might not have done.

But two things have caused fans to wonder if They (or He) Will Ever Learn.

  1. First is the clock management issue. This has been the Achilles Heel of his coaching that has never, ever, ever been addressed. Like any good addict, the first step to recovery is admitting you have the problem and it is obvious that BOB thinks there is no problem that hard work BY OTHERS can't fix. Maybe this takes an intervention like a Cal McNair step-in that says "I pay you millions, I pay big bucks for a gazillion coaches on the staff. SOMEBODY must be allowed to over ride you on time out usage because you suck." Heck, 75% or more of the fans would have called a timeout at the right time in the first half. Half of them would do this service for free just to stand on the sidelines. And one can just imagine if the Jags had made the two point conversion at the end of the game.....could Coach BOB have gotten out of the way of Deshaun Watson enough to allow him to move the club up for a winning FG? Heck he probably would have ended up with a TO or two left in his pocket on that one too!
  2. The prevent defense issue. The Jags had less than 100 yards passing headed into the last two drives that resulted in a FG and a TD. On those two drives they totaled 122 yards and the disturbing thing was seeing how much space was allowed for Jacksonville to throw 12 - 15 yard or more passes where the DBs had backpedaled into another zip code. This happened at the end of the New Orleans game against a Hall of Fame QB, but doing it against a rookie backup was just plain dumb and had almost the same result.

It is a shame to focus on the negative after a divisional win that put the Texans in a first place tie in the AFC South.

On the positive side:

  • Until those last two drives it was a terrific performance by the defense.
  • It was great to see Whitney Mercilus be a destructive force with two strip sacks including the one JJ Watt recovered that led to the Texans' only TD.
  • Sacks by Zach Cunningham and young Charles Omenihu were also positives
  • Justin Reid made the biggest stop of the game with his "not give an inch" stoning of Fournette a few whiskers short of the go-ahead two point conversion.
  • Carlos Hyde again had a very solid game carrying the rock for the home team (20 rushes for 90 yards).
  • Deshaun Watson had one of his poorer games especially with passing accuracy, but he did convert the huge 4th down try into a TD on a great cut back run.
  • The sack count improved from 6 in the first game to 4 this time around and it seemed like all four could have been avoided by Watson.

In the end the Texans won a game in a fashion similar to a few in 2018, where the coach on the far side rolled the dice which came up snake eyes. But if the Texans play in the future like they did in game 2 - winning by 1 point at home to a team being led by a rookie backup QB..... they will not be winning much of anything this year. They need to learn....and that starts with the coach.