We knew it was going to be a terrible season. We knew the Houston Texans were going to be awful with their cast of veteran mercenaries, leftover late round draft picks, and relics from the Bill O’Brien era. It was a necessary season. One of cleansing. The bile had to be regurgitated, the pus must be squeezed, the halls needed to be scrubbed and mopped, and the cobwebs strewn across the corners required a air blower to knock them away. O’Brien went all in, ignoring the future, to get his ass kicked in the 2019 AFC Divisional Round by the fire breathing Patrick Mahomes.
Nick Caserio had a strange offseason. It was one of half measures. He cut bad contracts, he traded away veterans when he could, but, at the same time, the NFL draft isn’t a ledger to balance, he didn’t add a surplus of draft capital, he restructured contracts to limit the team’s cap space in 2022, and ignored signing younger talent at the beginning and middle parts of free agency. The 2021 season should have been a complete separation, an amputation, instead it was a season of wading through stagnant water.
Some expected the Texans to be feisty. Their band of well coached veterans would hang in games, run the ball well, create turnovers, and win enough close games to be respectable. Six wins, and playing tough, would go a long way to rebuilding the trust this fanbase has lost, along with showing the culture foundation is in place.
This didn’t occur. Tyrod Taylor popped his hamstring and the Texans fell apart. Davis Mills played before he was ready, and Houston trotted out a five concept Fisher Price offense that could barely muster double digits. Taylor was terrible when he returned, and was benched after playing like Mills against Indianapolis.
Then there was some hope. A white wizard on the horizon with the sun taking its first breath. Mills had a good first half against Seattle until a second half change to cover one crushed Houston’s offense. He played adequately against Jacksonville, quick passing and moving the sticks on third down. Then, last week, he played the second great game of his career, by making three highlight throws on the Los Angeles Chargers, and playing complimentary football created by going up against the worst run defense in football.
These three games opened the door for words that were bizarre to hear. The Davis Mills era. Were these flashes, little glimmers, something the Texans could build around? Did Mills do enough to prove the Texans should build around him in 2022?
NFL football is a silly thing. Because the games occur every week, there is so much time to stew on one performance. The hearts are uplifted, then they are trounced and smashed the following week. Mills has gone from an unplayable backup quarterback, to better than Tyrod Taylor, to possible franchise quarterback, and after his performance against San Francisco, he’s now a backup quarterback.
I think we have some idea of what Mills is. He’s an erratic quarterback, who has a limited ability to create outside the structure of the offense, and still has accuracy issues. He’s a complimentary passer. If the offensive line is pass protecting great, if the run game is moving, if his receivers are making things happen on their own after the catch, and he can thrive on three deep hits a game, Mills is a starting quarterback. That’s a lot of things. The league is built upon limited resources. With the defensive issues the Texans still have, and the limited offensive talent they have, building everything just for Mills to maybe acceptable is a daunting endeavor to take on.
The only key indicator of consistent year to year success in the NFL is great quarterback play. With it, you can work your way to playoff appearances year after year, while the head coaches, defenses, and everything else changes. The Texans used to have that in Deshaun Watson. All of that is gone. Until Houston has it again, they have to do everything in their power to find it again.
Mills hasn’t shown anywhere close to that level of performance. The Texans can’t stand pat at quarterback and be satisfied with Mills only. They should take a quarterback in the first two rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft, or turn the stone on a former top drafted quarterback who never reached his draft potential. The Texans still need to add to the room. They need competition, Competition, COMPETITION.
Building out the offense is still a requirement. The Texans need to find out what type of run scheme they want, and find players who can pull it off. They need younger running backs who can actually break tackles. They need two more receivers who can separate against man coverage. These things could crack open Davis Mills, but probably not, and even if they don’t, it will make things comfier and cozier for the Texans if they have to draft a quarterback in 2023.
We all wanted something to use as a jumping off point to make sure that 2022 wasn’t as terrible as 2021. Mills was that solace for most. I admire Mills to improve like he has, to make the journey to playable in an awful situation, but football teams aren’t built on admiration. They are built on talent and consistent performance. It would be life changing if Mills can be a franchise quarterback from a third round draft slot, but, so far, he hasn’t shown enough for this to be anything more than irrational hope.
I still haven’t been able to accept the idea of watching ten, twelve, fifteen more Davis Mills starts in 2022, after how this season has played out. I need something to light my soul, to unleash the bewildering horses of love and desire, because at the moment my football watching life is a husk, a shell, an empty hull. Someone pass me the hopium. I’m all out.
While it might read 2022, the Texans continued their normal 2021 ways. The running game returned to its regularly scheduled ineptitude and the Texans managed to lose by double digits, all while putting up single digits on the scoreboard. The defense had its moments, but eventually was worn down and surrendered multiple big plays and allowed another team to dominate it in the second half. Since the bye, the Texans are 3-4. In the four losses, they scored zero points in the second half. So it was today, as the 49ers remain on the doorstep of clinching a playoff berth (NO’s comeback win forces San Francisco to wait until next week).
Yet, there were moments in this game. The Texans got an ugly style match-up in the first half, containing the 49ers running game and dealing with an inconsistent Trey Lance, helping them take the lead at the half. While the team has been generally bad enough for it not to matter, they can point to some bad calls by the officials, especially the fumble recovery of the Mills interception. Not buying the forward-progress-being-stopped-before-the-fumble-call. Yet, even into the fourth quarter, when the 49ers had seized momentum, the Texans were in position to at least tie in the fourth, if not take the lead. Yet, the Texans botched a 2nd and 3rd and short, and Ka’imi Fairbairn missed the subsequent field goal attempt. The 49ers then took that gift and logged another touchdown, which all but ended the game. It was nice of Shanahan to think of the poor bettors out there who so needed to start the New Year with a financial win, as his late field goal gave the team a 16 pt lead and sent those who took San Francisco to cover the spread to the books with tears of happiness.
Now the Texans gear up for the last game of this all-too-long season. To end the season, they are facing a Titans team that with a win will clinch the best record in the AFC and that all important first round bye. Will be interesting to see just what sort of motivation Culley, who reports indicate will return for 2022, can coax out of the Texans.
The 49ers had 44 more penalty yards than Houston and lost the time of possession battle. David Culley has no idea how the 49ers won this game.— Matt (Double__Underscore) Weston (@Matt__Weston) January 3, 2022
Of the Houston Texans four victories this year, two have come against the Glitter Kitties, and the other two have come against teams decimated by sickness or injuries (BESFs and Chargers). None of the wins have come against legit NFL teams. Not one.
Quarterback savior Davis Mills was horrendous aside from one drive in the game, and it’s yet another single digit offensive outburst from his play. If you look at the stat line at the end of the game, 21/32 163 1/1 doesn’t look THAT bad, but 57 of those yards came on the final trash time drive. The bigger problem is the 5.1 yards an attempt Mills, which is a massive issue.
Just one more week left for the Texans to embarrass themselves yet again. I’ll take the over on that.
YEAH, IT’S THAT $.25 DEPRESSION ERA PINK STUFF:
A weird game. It was like there was an agreement or something mid way through the third about who would win and when the Texans would stop trying. The offense came to a complete stop even when the 49ers wouldn’t let them. Mills stalled out and the run game went silent. Then the big plays started flowing in. My guy Deebo Samuel went deep for a gorgeous route and the Texans entire three deep delayed concept that has gotten them interceptions all year went dead. Interesting. Not saying that Nice Guy David Culley would even intentionally throw a game, because doing so would lose them three to four spots in the draft… noooo. And Nick Caserio, who is in the game day ear phones of Culley would NEVER hint at losing this game for better draft picks. Why even write these things out? Collusion? Nah. We just stink! Or do we???
THE SNAKE EATING ITS TAIL: