Whenever a team surges to a nine-game winning streak and has it cut before the tenth win in a row, it tends to give off an “it was fun while it lasted” type of feeling.
As it should.
Nine straight wins in the NFL is a rarity. Winning nine games total is difficult, let alone accumulating those victories in consecutive fashion.
Despite the hype of the streak, there’s a lingering sour taste after Sunday’s home loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Like when you dine at a seafood restaurant and the salmon is flavored with a little too much lemon juice.
To say the Texans got exposed by the Colts is harsh. To say flaws were exploited is fair, and I’m not talking about a trivial flaw where a team lacks a slot receiver or reliable kick returner.
The Texans’ last game showed flaws that have the potential to be embarrassing and dangerous come postseason time.
For starters, Houston’s secondary got carved up like soap art.
As an admirer of beautiful football, what Andrew Luck did to the Texans’ defensive backs was marvelous. He showed touch, precision, and threw passes that left the secondary with no chance.
Luck’s throws in that game were a demonstration of why he was worthy of the number one overall draft pick in 2012.
Now back to the secondary.
Whether it was Shareece Wright becoming a meme after the burn from Zach Pascal on a marvelous touchdown route, or T.Y. Hilton having his way with Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, and Tyrann Mathieu, the Texans’ pass defense showed major weakness.
They can be had. They can be beaten.
They had been quite fortunate up to that point because for whatever reason, opposing coaches and quarterbacks were oblivious or unable to attack this glaring hole.
The Texans all but screamed at their opponents, “Attack us deep!” yet were able to slide by during their streak. Frank Reich and Andrew Luck took the bait and wound up reeling in a big-mouth bass over the course of three hours.
Andrew Luck is a quarterback the Texans might see again in January. So is Philip Rivers. And Ben Roethlisberger. And Tom Brady. And Patrick Mahomes.
The Colts laid out an offensive blueprint on how to eat up the Texans in the passing game. It is an easily exploitable hole. For playoff quarterbacks, it will be chum for the piranhas.
For the first time in a long time (or ever, if you don’t believe Matt Schaub qualified), the Houston Texans have a franchise quarterback. A quarterback who is tremendously talented and has championship-caliber intangibles. At the most important position in all of sports, the Texans are set for the next fifteen years.
Deshaun Watson is a superstar.
Deshaun Watson is not a quarterback without flaws.
If you re-watch the television broadcast of the Texans-Colts game, take a lap around the track for every time the announcers mentioned Watson’s inability to pick up a blitz.
You would lose your legs.
It got to the point that the Colts’ defense could sell out for the blitz because they knew Watson was going to struggle reading it. Climbing a hill to victory turns into a mountain when the quarterback doesn’t keep the defense honest.
The Colts had free reign on Watson. Five sacks will rattle any quarterback.
Is the flaw fixable? Does Watson have the ability to learn and grow with more time and experience? Yes and yes.
However, it is hard to believe he will master picking up blitzes within the next four weeks.
Sacks often lead to second and long. Third and long. Stalled drives. Poor decisions with the football.
Luckily for Watson, he was not forced into any turnovers, and the Texans still came a Jadeveon Clowney penalty away from having a chance to tie or take the lead late in the fourth quarter.
That was the best case scenario.
We can sit here and discuss the shaky offensive line, but those sacks and quarterback pressures were mostly on Watson. Houston’s offensive line needs to be better; they have shown several times this season they’re capable of doing that.
The Texans have a couple of clear flaws and the Colts saw them right away. This loss was not a matter of one team simply outperforming another. It was a matter of the Colts spotting poorly hidden treasure.
The Texans will need to clean up their act if they have any hopes of making a deep playoff run. Their flaws will not go unnoticed any longer.
With playoff seeding on the line these next few weeks, let’s see what the Texans do to address the deficiencies before the NFL Playoffs begin.