For the most part, football has looked like football in the time of COVID-19. Sure, there were some things that needed some getting used to. Detroit’s MVP Baseball 2005 crowd, the bloodcurdling screams along the line of scrimmage, the clattering of shoulder pads, the empty seats surrounding the scoreboard when watching THE FILM, and, of course, the off-putting Madden crowd noise.
None of it bothered me. Football was football. It was just slightly different. Until yesterday.
The Houston Texans played like the Houston Texans play against top teams like the Baltimore Ravens. During this display of servile ineptitude, there were multiple plays that usually bring the cavorting Bud Light bloated hollering from irascible fans. Bill O’Brien’s 4th and 1 play call, Keke Coutee’s fumble that was scooped up and scored, O’Brien’s 4th and 6, down by 13 points, field goal, Mark Ingram’s haunted raven carry on 4th and 1 that sealed Baltimore’s victory. O’Brien’s 4th and 15 field goal while down 17 points. All were perfect moments to rain ‘You Suck!’ and deep, harrowing boos onto the field. Instead, it was quiet, with only the occasional manufactured outburst.
If the Houston Texans lose by 17 at home and no one boos, did it even happen at all?
MAYBE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO BETTER?
The problem with the Houston Texans thus far in 2020 isn’t the 67 points they’ve allowed. Heck, that’s maybe even better than I expected!
The problem with the Houston Texans, thus far in 2020, is the 36 points they’ve scored.
Tim Kelly, who suckled at Bill O’Brien’s teat for several years, turned out to play calls (us)surprisingly like his mentor. The result has been straight offensive game-calling trash. Again. David Johnson CHUM-ed his way for 34 yards on 11 carries. There was a complete lack of sense of urgency throughout the game. The Texans always reverted to establishing the run even after they had success moving the ball through the air.
Will the Texans make the playoffs this year? Probably. 0-2 isn’t a deal breaker for that. The problem is that this team is so poorly coached and managed offensively. Deshaun Watson can only carry the coaching staff on his back so far.
THIS IS IT.
I’m not surprised by anything I’ve seen in the Texans first 2 games. The Chiefs and Ravens are clearly the class of the NFL.— Mike Meltser (@MikeMeltser) September 20, 2020
But, with no first or second round pick, no cap space, and no GM, I wonder if this is the year the dam bursts for Bill O’Brien.
I thought they had a chance. A serious chance to get it done and avenge last year’s debacle at M&T Stadium. To start the 4th quarter, the Texans, down 13 but driving, had a chance to cut the deficit to one touchdown. Yet on 3rd and 6 at the BAL 17, Watson, flushed from the pocket, low-balled a pass to an open Brandin Cooks,that would have given the team a first down at the Ravens’ 10. Bill O’Brien opted for the field goal, which at the time may not have been the worst call, since the defense had shown signs of bend but don’t break.
Instead of being down one score, which a stop and then Watson driving the field could be the gateway to the victory, Houston ended the drive down 10. The team would never get closer. It was right there...until it wasn’t. Baltimore ran over the Texans for the rest of the game. The 4th and 1 Ingram TD on a direct snap was the coup de grace, with the remainder of the game only significant for gambling degenerates.
Unlike the beating at Kansas City, the Texans had their chances. There were signs of life from the pass rush. Aside from the ill-executed 4th and 1 and the fumble touchdown (bye bye, Coutee, nice knowing you), Houston’s defense gave up its yards, but was holding the Ravens to field goals. Watson was spreading the ball around, and there were signs of a passing game. But the numbers don’t lie. The Texans have a serious problem with their run defense. Like, major-league serious problems that will haunt them all season. Yeah, the Colts back in 2006 managed to overcome their Lord-awful run defense and win a Super Bowl, but after two games, I am having a hard time seeing that happen for the Texans.
Unfortunately, to mitigate a porous run defense, you need an explosive offensive attack...not really seeing that, and certainly the team is not putting up the points it requires. Perhaps most concerning is that the offensive line is showing little to no improvement from the last two seasons. The continuity was supposed to help the offensive line performance, but Watson has been sacked eight times in two games, hit many more times than that, has little time to set up for the expected deep routes, and the running game is not making any defensive coordinators lose sleep.
In the long game, being 0-2 is not the death knell for a team. Under the BO’B regime, 0-2 is almost an expectation. Watson is now 1-3 in home openers. There are some signs of life for the Texans, and we may have just finished the toughest two game stretch of the season. That being said, how we have performed is more than disconcerting. I can’t figure out BO’B’s logic for 4th down decisions, and the scary thing is I don’t think BO’B has either. He has been a head coach for the past nine years, so he should have some idea of what he is doing in that regard. The results seem to say otherwise. We face the Steelers in Pittsburgh next week, and the very real possibility of a second 0-3 start in the past three seasons looms. We played our way out of that hole two years ago, but that is not a formula for success.
Then again, we are talking about the Texans. For this team, or any Houston team for that matter, if there are two options, expect the Houston team to make the more difficult choice.
GLORY TO ALL FIELD GOAL OFFENSE, THE MOST NOBLE AND EFFICIENT OFFENSE EVER DEVISED!!— Houston Sports Minister of Information (@HouSportsMinInf) September 20, 2020
0-2 isn’t unexpected, but how they got there isn’t encouraging at all.
The Texans were outright embarrassed by the Chiefs last week. This week, they looked much better on both sides the ball, but were eventually just run over by a clearly better and more talented Ravens squad. Instead of big shootouts and the exciting finishes we were expecting in games that showcased the best of the AFC, the Texans looked completely outmatched by teams they appear unable to beat anytime soon.
On the bright side, the defense looked much improved this week, and hopefully will continue to improve into a respectable front. Anthony Weaver did a good job manufacturing pressure and containing Lamar Jackson, something I didn’t think they would be able to do at all. For most of the game, the defense kept the Texans in the game and didn’t let the Ravens run away with it until the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, it was the turnovers and continued poor coaching decisions on offense that ensured the Texans were playing from behind the whole game and took them out of it by the end. Repeatedly trying to establish the run deep into the second half when we NEEDED to be passing was embarrassing, and the continued dink and dunk offense even more so. We attempted try and force the ball down the field more this game than last, and wouldn’t you know, it worked! The passing attack is still nowhere near where it needs to be, but progress is progress, I guess.
The fourth down calls were awful as well. Going for it on 4th & 1 in your own territory is extremely dangerous, and when it fails, it gives the Ravens a chance to take a commanding lead and start playing their game of keep away and long drives. Anything that allows the Ravens to play their own style is football is bad, and not going for on 4th & 6 when we needed a touchdown is another example of that. Settling for the field goal at that point allowed the Ravens to keep a sizable lead and run the ball down the defense’s throat until the Texans completely fell apart. If you remove the Texans’ turnovers, this is a much closer game. As frustrated as I am, I am pleased that the Texans were able to keep it interesting for the majority of the game.
I sincerely hope the Texans give up on establishing the run quickly next week, because there’s no way they’ll be able to get anything good going on the ground against Pittsburgh next week. The Steelers’ only weakness on defense is (maybe) their secondary, and the Texans have to be attacking that the entire game if they want to avoid 0-3.
Someone ask Bill O'Brien about DeAndre Hopkins in the post-game presser— Matt Weston (@Matt__Weston) September 20, 2020
I never expected this game to be a win, or even a relatively close game.
It doesn’t make it hurt any less, though.
On paper, the Ravens outclass us on almost every single level. The early returns from this game were encouraging as the defense was holding fast and making plays. Heck, we even saw Vernon Hargreaves III do something! The offense is by far the biggest concern moving forward. I’ll keep saying it until it changes, but the “vertical” offense isn’t going vertical. That’s a problem. The team saw some flashes in the pan when sending players deep, but those chunk plays were broken up by typical RUM plays that kill the pacing for the offense.
That 4th and 1 conversion for a TD...I don’t know if I can remember a dagger slicing quite so deep in recent memory. I mean, look at how the defense lined up. It was like taking candy from some 6’2” babies.
All in all, I can’t say I’m surprised with the outcome. What we’re witnessing here is the putrid fruit that has grown from the seeds BOB has planted (and bargained for) in the last few seasons. The team is made in his image, and this is what it’s going to be. However, I’m not slamming the panic button until next week’s game against the Steelers. I predicted an upset, but at this point I can just hope for it to be competitive. If not, then sound the alarms.
Look I have seen every single game the TEXANS have played.. I have seen this look on several TEXANS players face from 2002-2020..The Houston TEXANS have a very serious problem and ownership knows what it is.. seeing this dude whom I believe in look like this has me in a bad place pic.twitter.com/1T5styfcA5— Elijah-Ruth-John Vote (@larryinstafford) September 20, 2020
To echo others, I never expected Houston to win this one. It’s not because Baltimore is a better team, or has better players, because I don’t believe that’s accurate. It’s because the Ravens have a far better coach. As long as Bill O’Brien’s system is in place in H-Town, we’ve seen what we’re going to see: unexpected wins brought on by nigh superhuman player efforts and abysmal losses marked by poor coaching preparation and bad in-game decision making.
Neither Baltimore nor Kansas City has the best defense in the league, yet Houston has only managed to score more points than the New York Jets thus far, unless you count the New Orleans Saints. who have only played one game and scored two less points than the Texans have in two games.
Averaging 18 points per game against non-top five defenses isn’t going to get it done. Unless O’Brien is promoted to Houston Astros Manager next.
Putting offensive talent like this in Bill O’Brien’s system is like buying a Lamborghini and never taking it out of your suburban driveway. Going for it on 4th down deep in your own territory, calling A-Gap runs on successive plays when down by double digits, insisting on overly complex passing trees, blowing through timeouts long before it’s clutch time...it’s all bad.
The Texans weren’t outclassed by the Kansas City Chiefs. They were out coached. Against Baltimore, the same can be said. There’s a reason Andy Reid and John Harbaugh have Lombardi Trophies and O’Brien has never made it past the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs and most likely never will.