This week’s Battle Red Blog Groupthink discusses the mediocre result against the Colts in Week 1.
Were you more impressed with the initial performance of the Texans against the Colts OR dissapointed by the mismanagement and collapse at the end of the game?
The Texans were the “losers” of this tie, squandering a 17-point tie. But there is some merit to the game. The offense played as-expected. They were okay. Not dominant, but not a dumpster fire. The defense was great at generating turnovers, but their performance in the 4th/OT made them the unit that gave up the most yards in all of Week 1. However, I am probably leaning towards more disappointment with Lovie Smith’s management at the end of the game. In 2018, we played a similar game against the Colts except the scenario was flipped. Indy went for it on 4th down late in OT, missed it, and the Texans kicked the FG and won. Despite the loss, Frank Reich was praised for at least trying to win the game. It built the culture. Lovie Smith showed by not going for it late in the game that he doesn’t want to do everything in his power to win. And that isn’t the culture I want for my football team.
I think it’s a tie (ok, I had to do that). The defense looked pretty good the first three quarters but they also capitalized on a lot of unforced errors. Yet, that’s what good football teams do. They don’t overwhelm teams every single week. Sometimes they just get out of the way and let teams fall over themselves.
My problem was we squandered a great opportunity. We should have lost that game. They were the better team in every conceivable way and we still could have won. We won’t get many opportunities like that again.
I have a real issue with playing for the tie at the end. I think that says a lot about a coach that he says “we were tired, we were gassed excuses, excuses” I thought the play calling turned terrible in the 4th quarter, and also the absolute mismanagement of Dameon Pierce/Rex Burkhead. Davis Mills still looks erratic out there, we took advantage of a bad day for the Colts and then let them back into it. Also that timeout 3rd and 1 run call was just a perfect snapshot of typical Texans football.
Was the initial performance really that impressive, though?
The Colts’ D was without its best player, Shaquille Leonard, and the offense could only muster 20 points and 299 yards. The fact is the Colts choked away this game more than the Texans earned a tie.
But, let’s look at the second half. That Rex Burkhead played such a central role shouldn’t be a surprise as the Texans as a franchise continue to refuse to play younger guys. If the Texans had a player of the game, after all, it was 34-year old Jerry Hughes. I don’t understand why Hughes is even on the roster unless it’s to be used as trade bait later. Another 7th round pick in 2213, perhaps?
Lovie Smith hasn’t been successful as a head coach in a decade. Pep Hamilton’s run in Indy as an offensive coordinator wasn’t a smash hit. The Texans played and strategized like a lost, old poodle for most of the second half because that’s the team Nick Caserio has built between his coaching staff and infatuation with signing a lot of hasbeens and neverwases.
Look, I love Lovie. That’s an all-time classic beard. It doesn’t mean he should be coaching in the NFL in 2022.
If you had told me before Sunday that the Texans would tie the Colts, after all the laugher and jumping around ala Gollum when he recaptures the One Ring, seeing a long-time ambition happen, I would have been impressed by the Texans. For the 1st three quarters, the Texans kinda/sorta played smart football, not committing the stupid mistakes, and letting the Colts get on with derping the game. However, the 4th quarter was completely different. The Texans played like the team we all feared they were, between some questionable player rotations, a D allergic to stopping Jonathan Taylor, and Davis Mills seemingly unable to complete anything more than a dump off screen. Houston can’t make any mistakes and hope to win. Many will condemn Lovie for playing for the tie on the final possession. Yet, the ire needs to be directed towards the Texans’ last real drive in regulation and their 1st OT drive. The Colts gave the Texans primo field position at the 40 (2 of 3 consecutive terrible kicks by Blankenship), and the Texans did NOTHING with those. After that, and on the heels of a Chernobyl-style meltdown in the 4th quarter, a loss might have seriously scarred the psyche of this young team. I don’t know if a tie is good or bad, but the way both teams played, it was a just outcome.
It was a tale of two games for me. The way the Texans controlled the game and owned the Colts was impressive and a demonstration of the quality this team possesses when orchestrated.
However, the team’s lack of defensive rotation was inexplicable. It’s unfathomable the coaching staff didn’t think to rotate A SINGLE LINEBACKER OR SECONDARY PLAYER. All six of our LBs and DBs played 92 snaps. That’s borderline reckless. It shows you the lack of depth this team possesses. It shows you the weaknesses of a short training camp. It shows you the naiveté of a new coaching staff. I’m more disappointed in the end result as it’s purely a sub-professional performance and management by the coaches.