Now at the midpoint of the season, we - the vast, unspooling blanket of Houston Texans fans - have spectated the 2022 Houston Texans team enough to be able to make conclusions on them with at least a moderate amount of concrete evidence backing up our claims. Back in the very beginning of the season and through the first month of playing, we could say, “the Texans are going to be bad this year,” but that statement would rely primarily on speculation of the upcoming season instead of a reaction to a season that’s now halfway over. Even though that was speculation held widely by analysts and fans alike, it was still just speculation.
At this point, however, when we say “the Texans are bad this year,” this is something that has become definitively true - at least up until this point - when comparing the Texans to the quality of most other NFL rosters. It is now very clear that the Texans have major problems stopping the run, stopping the pass, scoring, and creating a balanced offense. Much of this is on a lack of talent and production on the defensive line, poor tackling and coverage from linebackers and safeties on defense, and wildly inconsistent play from the quarterback and offensive line. This is just a cursory review of the Texans as a competitive football team in 2022, but they are now officially, statistically a bad football team that is unlikely to improve down the stretch.
This, regardless of if you successfully saw this coming or not, is still sad and disappointing - but that does not make the season without value. This is and was definitely not a fun season to be a Texans fan, but the Texans as a football unit had a lot of interesting questions tagged onto them this year: Will this team be truly terrible, or will they surprise us? Will they be better than last year? How well will the rookies play, and will they meet our high expectations? Who really is Davis Mills? Like a disappointing season of a tv show, the 2022 Texans have played certainly worse than what most fans would have preferred, but there were necessary things happening within the universe of the show (or…sport) that made it something we wanted and desired to watch, even if it was just morbid curiosity.
And, it’s easy to review a 1-6-1 football team and just blanket them with the “bad” name tag, but that wouldn’t be telling the whole story of the 2022 Texans. So far, the Texans have addressed plenty of our questions, and even though most answers have not restored our confidence in a good roster coming soon, but they’re not all bad. Rookie running back Dameon Pierce and rookie guard Kenyon Green have been pretty great so far!
The Texans are ranked #32 on the vast majority of power rankings (including my own), but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that one of their rookies is in striking distance from winning Offensive Rookie of the Year and accompanied by similarly proficient rookies in Kenyon Green and safety Jalen Pitre. It’s not like this team is good, but there are definitely things already in place this year that can and should lead them out of being bad in the near future.
Jalen Pitre is a good ballplayer man, they used him a lot as an overhang defender and he made some nice plays against the run pic.twitter.com/zTJe77ZEoG— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) November 2, 2022
But, even here, it’s obviously not all sunshine and rainbows:
The game was well over at this point but never forget the time Jalen Hurts stole Jalen Pitre's lunch money— MRCROCKPOT TPL (@mrcrockpot) November 5, 2022
Epic juke here pic.twitter.com/09nl3OaXXn
The rookie starters have played better than expected, but they’re not the secret spice that could transform this team into a surprise playoff contender. No, that task was up to Davis Mills.
Davis Mills was the big dilemma entering this season. The new, second-year starting quarterback taken in the 3rd round out of Stanford - Nick Caserio’s first draft pick as the Texans’ general manager - was the big bait to hook Texans fans into this season. We were bad last year, but Davis Mills surprised everyone through significantly improved play at the end of the season, finishing the season better or at least statistically comparable to the 4 first round QBs taken far ahead of him in the same draft. Was Mills going to continue surprising fans and analysts alike, or would he sink like a brick? The answer to this question, to our dismay, is neither.
Mills, through 8 games as a starter in 2022, has been strictly mediocre. He has not sharpened as a quarterback since the end of last season, but he is certainly not completely inept. He’s one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league right now, but still comparable to the first round passers taken ahead of him. Is this good, bad, somewhere in between? When is it too early to tell, and when is it too late? For a lot of us, what we demand out of a young, inexperienced quarterback and what expect from them are very different things. But, at the end of the day, the expectation is still to win football games; And if you don’t, you will sink.
Here’s where everyone is ranking the Houston Texans after their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1)
Week 9 ranking: 32
Non-QB MVP: RB Dameon Pierce
Pierce ranks sixth in total rushing yards in the NFL and is the Texans’ only consistent offensive threat. The offense only goes as far as he produces. Against the undefeated Eagles on Thursday, the score was 21-17 entering the fourth quarter — largely because of Pierce, who had 139 yards on the ground. When he doesn’t rush for a big amount, the offense struggles — like against the Titans in Week 8, when Pierce only had 35 yards and the offense didn’t eclipse 200 yards for the day. — DJ Bien-Aime
31. Houston Texans (1-6-1)
Previous rank: No. 32
Give the Texans some credit: They kept their Thursday Night Football matchup against the mighty Eagles more competitive than most expected. Davis Mills threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes and Dameon Pierce continued his Offensive Rookie of the Year charge with 139 yards on the ground. Pierce is clearly the most interesting talent on the offense; it could be helpful to make the dynamic young playmaker a more prominent part of the passing game. Pierce wasn’t targeted once by Mills despite the 22-year-old rusher regularly putting Eagles defenders on their backs. Also untargeted? Wide receiver Brandin Cooks, declared inactive after a salty tweet minutes after last Tuesday’s trade deadline.
- Dan Hanzus
PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
31. Texans (1-6-1; No. 31): Two teams in the same division are racing to the bottom.
- Mike Florio
31. Texans (32): WR Brandin Cooks has already been traded three times in his career... and you wonder if Houston will regret not dealing him a fourth time.
- Nate Davis
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1 | last week: 32)
Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III has the edge over Texans RB Dameon Pierce in the race for Offensive Rookie of the Year—in part because Walker is making his team a postseason contender while Pierce is simply the brightest spot on the worst team in the NFL. But here’s the case for Pierce, a fourth-rounder out of Florida: He ranks sixth in yards after contact per attempt (3.80) and is third in forced missed tackles (50), according to PFF. Walker, meanwhile, ranks 11th and seventh in those categories. Championing Pierce over Walker for OROY is about as positive as you can get as a Texans fan right now.
- Austin Gayle
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1)
Points in poll: 9
Highest-place vote: 31 (2 votes)
Lowest-place vote: 32 (5 votes)
Preseason rank: 32
Last week: loss vs Philadelphia, 29–18
Next week: at New York Giants
The Texans were hoping to make some on-field progress this year, and a Week 1 tie (and near win) raised some hopes. But five members of our panel still think this is the NFL’s worst team. They would currently get the No. 1 draft pick to show for it, at least.
- MMQB Staff (Greg Bishop, Andrew Brandt, Albert Breer, Mitch Goldich, Gary Gramling, Michael Rosenberg, John Pluym)
32. Texans (1-6-1)
They just don’t have the players to win games week in and week out. Did we expect it any different?
- Pete Prisco
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1)
Last Week: 32
Week 9 Result: Lost vs. Philadelphia Eagles 29-17
For one half, the Houston Texans gave the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles all they could handle Thursday night.
The bad news is that NFL games have two halves.
After heading to intermission tied at 14, the Texans were outclassed after the break. But despite scoring just three points in the second half and losing for the sixth time in seven games, head coach Lovie Smith tried to a positive spin on the effort afterward.
“We knew who we were playing,” Smith told reporters. “Some people regard them as the best team in football right now. I thought our guys played hard from start to finish. We didn’t always play smart football, and there are some mistakes that we have to eliminate, but I liked the way they fought.”
It isn’t all doom and gloom in Houston. Rookie running Back Dameon Pierce had another strong effort, gaining a career-high 139 yards on 27 carries.
But with each passing week, it become more evident Davis Mills isn’t the Texans’ long-term answer at quarterback. Top wideout Brandin Cooks was a healthy scratch against the Eagles after attempts to trade him fell through, too.
The Texans are a mess. But given that they are now in the lead in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in 2023, Thursday’s loss was a win in some respects.
- NFL Staff (Gary Davenport, Maurice Moton, Brent Sobleski)
32. Houston Texans (1-6-1, Last Week: 32)
The $18 million Brandin Cooks is guaranteed next season made everything more complicated, but the Texans needed to figure out a way to trade him. He’ll be 30 next season. They could have gotten valuable picks in return. The most shocking revelation of a busy trade deadline might have been that Cooks wasn’t moved. Cooks already was out last week and even though he has returned to the Texans, that situation will linger.
- Frank Schwab
Next week, the Texans fly up to the Big Apple to play one NFL team that’s figured out how to win in spite of mediocre quarterbacking, the New York Giants. At 6-2, the Giants represent the what could have been team for many football spectators across the country. They are the team that was able to pull all of their spare parts together to be just barely good enough to give themselves a chance at the end of every football game they play. The Texans, similarly, have been able to scrape by and keep games close against a great variety of opponents this year, but - unlike the Giants - always seem to squander those 4th quarter opportunities. Maybe on Sunday, The Giants will give Houston a chance to get over the hump.
Follow me on Twitter: @FizzyJoe