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Incompletions: Texans v. Cardinals (The David Johnson Revenge Game)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, one person isn’t enough to write about it all. The Masthead joins together and writes about the beatdown we all have been waiting for.

Houston Texans v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

MATT WESTON:

There’s the same trope that is echoed years after an enormous cultural event. Where were you when J.F.K. was blasted, when the towers fell down, when David Johnson was traded? Before the pandemic hit we used to have to wake up a hour early, let the dogs out, squirt our black liquid into mugs, button up shirts, and sit in a car to carry our vessels to our spiritually desolate work space. I was there, sitting in my U boat, tied to the computer and the telephone, reading the news. Peter King wrote in the MMQB that he was hearing chatter that DeAndre Hopkins could be traded. Texans twitter responded, mocking the piece, sardonic and intransigent, laughing at the rumor. An hour later all that changed.

The Texans were trading for David Johnson. Stupid, to take on that contract for a terrible player who was the worst running back on that team. The Texans couldn’t be actually trading Hopkins to Arizona, if he was traded, it had to be somewhere else. Then Hopkins was going to Arizona, Johnson would be involved, and the picks would be announced. Well that at least have to get a first and other picks to make this happen, and the Johnson was there to only match salaries. A second round pick. That’s it. Johnson was the centerpiece of the trade.

Houston subsequently exchanged Arizona’s second round pick for Brandin Cooks. In a conference call after COVID-19 hit, Cal McNair, Bill O’Brien, and Jack Easterby defended the trade. Lying to us about contract extensions, telling us Hopkins did a lot of great things for the franchise but it’s the nature of the game, and there would be a lot of exciting moves coming down the pipe, like keeping Zach Cunningham over D.J. Reader, signing Eric Murray and Randall Cobb. The hopefuls told us that this would open up the entire offense, and make Deshaun Watson a better quarterback so he wouldn’t rely on one player entirely.

A year later the inverse has happened. Cooks is the entirety of Houston’s offense while DeAndre Hopkins is the central receiver in the league’s most balanced passing attack. Deshaun Watson requested a trade and was accused of sexual assaulting masseuses. Johnson is now a wide receiver, and has been completely removed from the run game. At least he broke one touchdown run against Kansas City in week one 2020.

When the trade was made I was already looking forward to last week, when the Texans would face the stupidity of their actions, and deal with the DeAndre Hopkins revenge game, something made even more viscous with J.J. Watt relocating to Arizona. The schadenfreude, a Cheesecake Factory heaping, would be on a platter in front of us.

Although the Cardinals won 31-5, it still didn’t feel like enough. Kliff Kingsbury, along with various members of Arizona’s defense, were out with the virus that seeped from Wuhan. The Cardinals were sloppy in the first half. Missing passes, a silly zone read led to a safety, and they found themselves running short choppy passing concepts into the heart of Houston’s zone defense. What we wanted was destruction. What we wanted was obliteration and devastation. Running riot. Hopkins having 10 catches for 200 yards. Watt with 3 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, and 2 tackles for a loss. Instead we received a competent performance that great teams carry out against bad teams, emotion removed, just another game. The Cardinals stumbled their way to a blowout win.

Limbs weren’t strewn across the field, flesh wasn’t mashed, teeth remain intact. The massacre we desired, that we had been longing for, wasn’t provided. It was listless. It was an Arizona hangover, something you get when you drink too much at a higher elevation after wandering around the desert for the day.

The worst part is that this is all we had to look forward to. After Tyrod Taylor was knocked out with a hamstring injury, Houston being wiped by the supernova of its old stars was it. There are no cornerstone players on this roster. Tim Kelly has sheltered Davis Mills. The offensive line is somehow even worse than it was last year. The defense can only get stops if they force turnovers, and Jonathan Greenard is the only light glimmering at the bottom of the abyss. It’s a dead zone. Nothing grows down here. All we wanted was some blood to add color to the place, to liven things up, and all we got was Arizona just getting through it.

BFD:

In the five (5) games since Davis Mills became the starting quarterback, the Texans have been outscored 151-39, and they’ve scored touchdowns in only two (2) of the five games. Two of those touchdowns were flukes: the pass to Chris Moore and the flea-flicker to Chris Conley simply aren’t repeatable.

Is this all on Mills? Of course not. The offensive play calling has taken football back to 1920, and the defense seems to be getting worse every week. This was going to be a terrible football team in 2021, and losing Tyrod Taylor simply accelerated that plan (with the caveat that, if you thought Taylor was going to last the season, that’s on you).

There’s a reason David Culley is the head coach, Tim Kelly is the offensive coordinator, and Lovie Smith is the defensive coordinator. It’s because nobody else in the NFL want them. It’s that cut and dry.

Sunday’s game? It was just more of the same, that’s all. It was fun watching J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins put up a show against us. Things went well for the Texans in the first half, and we still managed to score just five (5) points. Jonathan Greenard has been fun.

At this point, as Texans fans, it’s Groundhog’s Day. It’s going to be the same stupid ish over and over and over again. This is what 2021 was going to be the moment Nick Caserio was hired, Culley named the head coach, and Deshaun Watson being a horrible human being. 2022 is going to be the same.

Competition, culture, and process have done nothing. Talent matters, and the Texans have very, very little of it.

WHAT ABOUT WHAT WE WANT?

UPROOTED TEXAN:

If you’re looking for something positive in a game where the only bright spot is a safety in the first quarter and in a team where we haven’t scored a touchdown in nine quarters (and counting!), then I say bless your hearts.

As for me, looking for a positive in what we’ve seen so far leads me back to a sign that is as timely as it is appropriate:

I don’t look for the bright side in Texans football anymore. It’s like eating buffalo wings, too much work for too little reward. Instead, I take joy in the small things like seeing the Texans get scorigami against the Cardinals, watching new and unusual ways of not moving the ball up the field, or giving up the ball entirely.

There’s nothing positive to scavenge from this team other than the certainty that the season will at least end at some point in the future. Will it be this way forever? No, because even a blind pig like Cal McNair will eventually find an acorn. But that pig might take a very long time finding that acorn.

I know there will be blindly loyal fans out there saying “well you’re just not a big enough fan. There’s good in this team if you look hard enough.”

Yeah. That’s my point. This iteration of the team is not worth the effort of finding anything uplifting about it. Every time I try, I just end up tired, sad, and annoyed.

The way this team is playing now, at the midway point of the season, you’d think they were already playing out the string.

Football is supposed to be fun. The Houston Texans, from a win-loss perspective, from a growth perspective, from just about any perspective other than pure comedy, is not fun. It’s labor, and for those of us who write about them, especially, it’s a labor of love. Delusional love, but love nevertheless.

I’m so tired of this version of the team already. I’m tired, y’all. My only question is how are y’all NOT tired of what this team currently is?

I FEEL NOTHING:

RIVERS MCCOWN:

Happy birthday to Cal McNair.

I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO:

L4BLITZER:

The Cardinals had problems protecting their franchise quarterback. Their high powered offense struggled for much of the first part of the game. The Texans came up with four sacks and their special teams, particularly the punting game, came up with some huge plays. All of that, and the Cardinals still beat the Texans by 26, covering a 20 point spread. That is life for the 2021 Texans. Teams hosting the Texans do not have to have an A game, or even a B+ game to beat the ever-loving tar out of the Texans.

The road futility of this team is nearing historic levels. The team averages barely a touchdown on the road, and if you take away the Cleveland game, where the team had to go with different quarterbacks, the team has only scored eight TOTAL points in three road games. Doing some back-of-the-cocktail-napkin math, that comes out to 2.7 points a game. That the Texans actually came up with two scores in this road game is remarkable. For the rest of the teams on the Texans’ road schedule, even the struggling Dolphins and the perennially bad Jaguars, they can almost feel confident of checking the “win” box in permanent ink.

For further consideration of the Texans’ road futility (road output production last three road games):

Texans: 8

Astros: 21

When the does the off-season start again?

MATCHING T-SHIRTS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN TALENT:

MIKE BULLOCK:

Can the Texans just forfeit the rest of the games this season? It would save injuries, still provide the same results and give the fans a break from any false hope.

Playing for the draft is so tough to watch. Especially amidst rumors the Texans are trying to trade away any and all remaining decent players like Laremy Tunsil, Zach Cunningham and Justin Reid.

We all knew this game was over before it started, but at least we got a Jacob Martin safety out of it... ugh.

SOMEHOW, THAT’S BETTER THAN WHATEVER THIS IS:

CARLOS FLORES:

The Cardinals did what they were expected to do for three quarters and beat the hell out of the Texans. There is no surprise from the result of this game, or for the season for that matter.

Davis Mills is hamstrung by the conservative, scared play calling from David Culley. Well, whatever little there is to be hamstrung anyways. The running game is a decomposing corpse. We will be lucky to have another multi-touchdown game.

The defense surprised early and looked promising. They then made like an exploding cigarette and gave us a rotten surprise. Lonnie Johnson can get launched into the sun for all I care. Some of the young bucks had a few good plays. Maliek Collins’ sack was good and shouldn’t have been penalized just because Kyler Murray is a small child.

Fire sale, fire sale, fire sale. There has to be movement at the trade deadline and the Texans should get rid of anything that isn’t nailed to the floor. It’s hard to care so much about this team in it’s current iteration, but here we are. Just a bunch of compadres hollering into the abyss.

DAVID JOHNSON REVENGE GAME? DAVID JOHNSON REVENGE GAME: