It was bound to happen with a younger team. Momma said there would be days like this. Everyone that has ever played a sport or coached a sport has had days like the Houston Texans had on Sunday. Nothing was working all that well and when there was a 50/50 play it seemed to go the way of the New York Jets. The best teams overcome those things and manage to remain competitive, but look around the NFL and every team has had a clunker this season.
Obviously, talking heads like us and fans in general will say a lot of different things about Sunday. Players and coaches are used to that sort of thing. Inside the building they need to figure out the best way to move forward with who they have available. It has been that way all season win or lose.
Inside the Numbers
Time of Possession
Sometimes numbers can conceal any number of sins, but this game can’t really be polished with any statistic I can find. There really isn’t much to say in general until we break down the categories we usually break down. The game should only be dwelled on as far as what we can learn about the future.
The only thing the Texans did consistently was defend the run. Breece Hall had a decent run or two and Zach Wilson had one or two good scrambles, but otherwise the Texans run defense shut them down. In particular, Sheldon Rankins and Denzel Perryman had their best games as Texans. The running backs combined for 21 carries and 55 yards. We have seen the other stuff before, but whatever the case, the Texans appear to have fixed the run defense that plagued them the last three seasons.
Zach Wilson threw for over 300 yards. Let me say that again in case anyone thought they were having a stroke. Zach Wilson threw for over 300 yards. So far on the season, that is three quarterbacks (Wilson, Desmond Ridder, and Derek Carr) that have thrown for more than 300 yards and either missed time or were benched in other games. In particular, the second half saw him have way too many easy passes and he eventually gained some confidence. The Jets hadn’t scored 30 points or had three offensive touchdowns all season. They had ten offensive touchdowns coming in.
We can officially remove C.J. Stroud from the MVP race. I am not sure how much of that performance is on him. His top two receivers and his best tight end missed all or most of the game. The offensive line is clearly running on fumes. The weather wreaked havoc on him and the other players. I’m sure when the smarter people watch the All-22 tape they will see and enumerate the mistakes that he made. If it was at all possible, Davis Mills looked worse in his limited time. However, one cannot be a balanced reporter and ignore what we saw. It was not pretty and he may very well miss Sunday’s game. That would indeed be ugly.
Rookies struggle. Defensive coordinators are able to disguise coverages, blitz packages, and generally make life miserable for them. Some rookies deal with it better than others. Up until Sunday, Stroud had been one of the best rookie quarterbacks in history. In all reality, he still is one of those guys. The hardest thing for any athlete of any stripe is to take a day like this and learn what needs to be learned and forget about the rest.
Moving forward, the Texans must find a reliable second starter at wide receiver. It may not be on the roster with Tank Dell out for the season. We thought at the beginning of the year that Robert Woods or John Metchie could be that guy. Clearly they are not. For a few weeks it looked like Noah Brown could be that guy. That is looking more doubtful by the week. That leaves Xavier Hutchinson. Maybe I am being too harsh on some of the younger guys. Chemistry takes time and receiver is one of the harder positions to master as a rookie. We get to find out in the last four games. One of them might be with Davis Mills at the helm. Let’s see what Bobby Slowik can come up with.