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Incompletions: Texans v. Chiefs (The Nu England Patriots)

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 same old Houston Texans.

NFL: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

MATT WESTON:

For a second there, they had us. All of those beautiful ideas about using a spread passing attack that fed multiple mouths existed for one wonderful drive. Deshaun Watson mainly operated from an empty formation, five pass catchers were available to him, and he picked and popped Houston down the field until David Johnson bounced a run outside, hit the right trigger, and torched the flailing linebacker to the pylon. 7-0, Houston. I stumbled upon the baby fawn in my mind. It was 2016 all over again. It seemed, for a glimmer, there was something there.

And then the Houston Texans became the Houston Texans again; oh, that coagulation of mediocrity that can’t quite get it. They punted on 4th and 4 because Bill O’Brien is a coward and didn’t learn from his coward’s field goal last January, the one that started the rout and changed the entire complexity of that playoff game. The offense got caught in third and long. Watson was unable to find anything crisp and open. Chris Jones and Frank Clark created an entire pass rush on their own. At the end of the half, Kai’imi Fairbairn, sporting a new gold chain and feeling himself after becoming the third highest paid kicker in the league, missed a 51 yard field goal wide right. This wasn’t a surprise, as making 50 yard field goals has never been something he’s been competent at doing. The Chiefs had three timeouts. They scored before the half.

Then they scored after the half. The game was over.

Despite all the talk of the super fast/super vertical/super open offense, what the Texans provided was a quick passing spread attack without big play ability. Will Fuller dropped a back shoulder fade. Brandin Cooks had a quad injury and couldn’t outrun a rookie cornerback. The Chiefs were able to flood the short field without worrying about Houston beating them down the sideline. Stagnancy, until late game scores made it look closer than it really was, is a Bill O’Brien specialty. Tim Kelly’s offense was Bill O’Brien’s offense, except ESTABLISH THE RUN with Carlos Hyde was replaced with ESTABLISH THE SHORT PASS.

The issue isn’t that it’s Week One, or they’re rusty, or they have numerous new components to their offense that need to go get going. No, it’s that they lost a top three wide receiver, an absolute monster, a nuclear spider who sticks passes into his web and that takes up entire sections of the field, who made the game easy for Watson. They’re figuring out what an offense looks like without DeAndre Hopkins, a guy who carried this team through Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, [NAME REDACTED], and Tom Savage. Now things aren’t so easy, and they’ll have to learn what it really means to live without Hopkins. It was easy to imagine it back in April. It’s difficult to actually live it in September.

It’s imperative this gets corrected quick. Houston’s defense still sucks. It’s worse than even I—black-hearted, empty, and filled with a seething hatred of everything that stems from the lonely, miserable life I lead—thought it would be. It’s worse because J.J. Watt is here—who made some nice run stops—couldn’t carry a pass rush on his own. The defense wasn’t bad last season because of Romeo Crennel; it was bad because the players were bad. This version added three rookies, only one of whom played, and Eric Murray to it. That’s it. With this weekly defensive performance staring them in the face, the Texans simply can’t score seven points through three quarters and win games. 2016 was a such a long time ago. All of those players are gone. The way they used to win no longer exists.

For one brief drive, Bill O’Brien reached his football nirvana, finally replicated what he’s wanted to replicate since he arrived in Houston, and touted his version of ‘Do Your Job’. He found it. Then it was immediately eradicated. The Texans are still the Texans under O’Brien. This version of it is just a nu metal version of what he’s spent close to a decade trying to create.

AT LEAST DAVID WAS BOUNCY:

BIGFATDRUNK:

Vertical offense LOL!

Tim Kelly is Bill O’Brien.

2020 Houston Texans: Same As It Ever Was Under Bill O’Brien.

CARLOS FLORES:

The best thing that we could say about this game is “It could have been worse”.

The first half was at least competitive. David Johnson resembled a competent running back early on, Jacob Martin fastballed his way into a solid sack, and it seemed that the play calling might have improved. However, there was plenty to be concerned about. BOB punted on what should have been a fourth down conversion attempt, the Texans’ tackling issues have carried over from last season, and the “vertical offense” wasn’t going vertical.

There was little hope that the Texans could pull off an upset of the defending Super Bowl champs. We walked into this with a whole new offense that received no preseason snaps and a new defensive coordinator tasked with stifling one of the best offenses ever. Luckily, the introduction of the Chiefs’ new running game featuring Clyde Edwards-Helaire allowed the clock to be run out and the score to be kept relatively modest. If the Chiefs were forced to keep their foot on the gas, they could have easily grilled up a 50 burger with how our secondary was playing.

The Texans still can’t cover Travis Kelce. Tyreek Hill is just too fast for our corners to keep up with. Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy’s offense is just flat out better than ours. We saw what it took for a team to win a Super Bowl, and we’re still not able to match up with a team that has achieved the success that we’re striving for. With the rest of this tough opening schedule looming, it’s important to have a short memory and move on to Baltimore.

It could have been worse.

WET FART NOISE:

KENNETH L.:

I’m going to state what is now the obvious. We are a worse football team in 2020 than 2019. No D.J. Reader. No DeAndre Hopkins. No secondary help. No real improvement on the defensive line.

This game was a blur and was too easy for Kansas City. We just let a rookie running back completely clobber us. I don’t even know if Ross Blacklock played, but Charles Omenihu and Brandon Dunn will not cut it up the middle. P.J. Hall had an okay-ish game, but he doesn’t compare to what Reader was able to do. You saw Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham miss tackles, and that’s because the holes were so much larger than before; chances to miss are going to happen.

This secondary is terrifying. There isn’t really a player on this defensive backfield that can lock anyone down. There were multiple times where Justin Reid had to play corner, which is a concerning concept. That is not a winning formula. Reid isn’t fast enough and doesn’t have a good skill set for corner.

For the offense, the offensive line looked shaky, but overall wasn’t too bad. David Johnson looked good, but wasn’t able to get into a groove. I don’t know where half of our weapons were. Randall Cobb wasn’t a factor. Duke Johnson wasn’t impactful before getting hurt. Kenny Stills didn’t do anything. Only two tight ends made a play.

DIEHARD CHRIS:

This result and the way it played out did not surprise me in the least. Take note that I am NOT a sunshine and puppies guy when it comes to the Texans, BUT I think there are things about this iteration of the Texans that are important to note, especially when compared to this iteration of the Chiefs.

Texans - barely any offseason, no preseason, TOTAL skill position overhaul on offense.

Chiefs - barely any offseason, no preseason, and returning essentially the exact same team that raised the trophy.

Also, the Chiefs are really, really good. The truth is we may not even see what these Texans are until we are a quarter into the season. They are walking right into a buzzsaw with games against the Chiefs and Ravens, and it’s not like visiting Pittsburgh and hosting Minnesota after that is going to be a break. The Texans may not get it figured out on offense for a little bit.

On defense, I mean - you have a really bad defense in 2019 - you do nothing to address it - and what do you know, it’s terrible again. Sure, it’s the Chiefs - but this is going to be a problem all season long, no doubt.

For me personally, perhaps the most infuriating part of the loss to the Chiefs was that despite the fact Tim Kelly is now calling plays, he seems to have the same issue as Bill O’Brien when it comes to the complete lack of urgency in situations that OBVIOUSLY CALL FOR URGENCY. This is especially confounding given the Texans have arguably the most dynamic, clutch, and capable up-tempo quarterback in the NFL, a guy who has performed in the clutch and driven his teams down the field in short amounts of time over and over in both his college and pro career.

DAMN, I COULD REALLY USE A DIET COKE RIGHT NOW:

L4BLITZER:

Well, I think we figured that the Texans would not win this one, and they didn’t. Most figured a double-digit defeat, and it was. Still, that doesn’t mean that it didn’t suck to see the Texans get smashed like they did. Perhaps I was too optimistic about what the offense would do against KC, but the KC defense, to their credit, did much to keep the Texans in check, stalemating the Texans’ offense just enough to let the Chiefs’ offense slowly strangle the Texans’ defense until the game was more or less in hand. I didn’t count on the Chiefs killing the Texans with a clock-eating running game, but there is so much diversity in the Chiefs’ attack that Andy Reid, seeing the running game and screen game was so effective, just let it ride. Travis Kelce can still kill the Texans at will, but he didn’t quite have the record day I feared, so that is something, I think.

I get wanting to establish the run, and David Johnson was the MVP for the Texans on this night, but perhaps it was to the squad’s detriment, especially in the third quarter when the game got away from the team. Perhaps if the Texans don’t miss the field goal before halftime, and the defense doesn’t allow the Chiefs to move down the field at the end of the first half to get their three points, and it is a 14-10 game at the half vs. 17-7, maybe things go differently, but the Texans didn’t, the Chiefs did, and when it got to 24-7, even midway through the third quarter, it just felt like the game was in hand for the home team. We need to see a bit more diversity in first down play calling. Maybe we will, but we shall see.

That being said, even with the general suckiness for Houston sports on this day, it is only one game. We have never won a season opener since Watson joined the team (0-4). BO’B is 2-5 in season openers. We will be down on the team after last night. The national media will mock the squad. Yet it is only one game. Most expected the Texans to drop this one. Provided COVID-19 can be kept in check by NFL players/coaches/staffs (COVID-19 is 0-1 for NFL games, another positive), the Texans will have 15 more games. I almost look at this as a preseason game. Perhaps this was the toughest game for the Texans this season.

So, cue the BO’B cliches (I have to coach better, it is on me, we have to play better), take a few extra shots of whatever you are drinking (do not drive), sleep off the hangover, and get ready for next week.

YOU SPENT ALL SUMMER LYING TO ME:

JOE CRITZ:

Somehow, the Texans managed to look like they were not suffering from first game jitters yet still looked completely unprepared for the overwhelming majority of the game.

They were absolutely outmatched by the Chiefs in every sense of the word, and I am legitimately impressed at how they made a receiving cornucopia of Fuller, Cooks, Stills, and Cobb look completely worthless. None of the players were instrumental in the offense until garbage time, and for the most part, it wasn’t their fault. The play calling was obnoxiously conservative, featuring endless inside runs and quick passes that, while more functional than I was expecting, were not nearly enough to keep pace with the Chiefs. After a few impressive moments from David Johnson, the offense completely stagnated against a Chiefs defensive line that dominated the line of scrimmage and a backfield that didn’t even have to do much because apparently Tim Kelly was too afraid to even challenge them. Nearly all passes were within 15 yards, which made some sense since it took advantage of the Chiefs’ weakness at linebacker, but rarely did we see the Texans even attempt to use their embarrassment of riches at wide receiver to try to push the ball downfield. Even when we were down two scores in the third quarter, Cooks, Cobb, and Fuller were rarely involved. I’m incredibly disappointed and nervous as to what this tells us about Tim Kelly’s playcalling and his confidence in our passing offense.

The defense was even worse for most of the night. Rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire completely destroyed our entire defense, with the Chiefs rarely passing the entire first half because they didn’t even need to. And once the Chiefs did start throwing the ball, it was abundantly obvious that we had NOT learned from the Divisional Round game of last season since Travis Kelce was essentially always open. We did not have a single answer for Kelce or Sammy Watkins the entire game, and only by sheer luck did we force the Chiefs to punt a few times. Now, granted, the defense did improve in the second half once J.J. Watt decided to show up, but the passing defense is as terrible as it’s ever been. While the Chiefs’ ridiculous offense may be a bad example, I’m certainly not encouraged by the ease of which Patrick Mahomes spread the ball to six different receivers. I can only hope that improvement we saw as the game wound down will continue against Baltimore. We’re gonna need it.

Even though it feels like there was nothing positive to gain from this game, there is a silver lining. David Johnson looked great! I imagine the Texans came into this game thinking they could run all over the Chiefs unto victory like they did i not regular season last year. While that certainly didn’t happen this time around, I was very happy to see David Johnson make people miss and sprint past defenders like it was 2016 again. If he can continue this production a make those jump cuts a part of the weekly highlight reel, I will be happily boarding the Humble Rumble hype train.

The defense was also not completely terrible. Anthony Weaver placed Justin Reid in man coverage and J.J. Watt in the interior line, a sign that he is willing to put his best players wherever they can make plays. The run defense also steadily improved in the second half, which could be a sign of the Chiefs laying off the gas since the game was in hand, but I like to believe Weaver finally solved the puzzle of Edwards-Helaire. They should certainly hope it’s legitimate improvement, because next week holds Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Overall, very disappointed by the offense, mildly disappointed by the defense. I can’t take too much out of a Week 1 game against a loaded Kansas City Chiefs team, but it certainly was a rude awakening to how messy this team currently is.

MIKE BULLOCK:

This game was everything I feared and then some. Houston Football Czar Bill O’Brien did nothing in the offseason to fix a defense that coughed up 51 points to the Chiefs in the playoffs. That is mind-boggling. I recall someone mentioned that any other team suffering a playoff blowout like that would have cleaned house at the coaching level, but Cal McNair actually rewarded O’Brien for that historic collapse by giving him even more power within the organization.

The only thing last night that really impressed me was David Johnson - and good for him; the guy has had a hard row to hoe this offseason as the afterthought in the DeAndre Hopkins trade.

I know a lot of people will say it’s too soon to start this, but Bill O’Brien needs to go so the Texans don’t waste Deshaun Watson’s career like they have J.J. Watt’s.