The Texans had their worst outing of the 2019 season when they dropped a disheartening home loss 38-24, after trailing 31-3 at the half, to the Denver Broncos. Former defensive back Kareem Jackson, showed the Texans were wrong in letting him walk this off-season, where he impacted the Texans offence on nearly every drive. The most alarming part of the defeat would have the ease at which, rookie Quarterback, Drew Lock, sliced up their secondary with relative ease. Consistency evades a Texans team who continue to dangle hope, then take it away the next week. After 14 games, they are still to find an identity and rue missed opportunities to seize momentum.
Defence – Is RAC on the Hook?
Denver had only averaged 24 points, prior to Sunday, but managed to put 31 points in the first half against a defensive unit, that appeared hapless for much of the day. The limited pass rush from the front allowed Lock to sit back in the pocket and pick apart the Texans, where not covering tight-ends and poor tackling was the order of the day. The linebacking crewe might want to forget co-ordination of fancy dress and get their assignments down. B-Mac, which is not often, had a day to forget and the defensive backs were poor in coverage despite having a fully healthy unit, for the first time all season. There appeared to be a rotation which helped little to what was an already poor red zone and third down defence, crumbled in front of the home crowd, which voiced their displeasure at half time.
That was perhaps the softest and ill-prepared a Texans team has looked on that side of the ball all year. O’Brien was clear in his comments on Monday that what substance the calibre of their play resembled. Crennel is calling plays to keep his role with this team, after that outing. To be pushed aside so easily will put the 72-year-old has one foot out the door with Pagano waiting in the wings. Should he not decide to step away this off season, he may be asked to do so quietly. A case for change is clear when a game plan is torched that easily by a rookie. There’s been a few bad performances to point to but Crennel could easily point to the lack of talent. Both side would have an argument but the two together, are a terrible mix and it showed up Sunday.
Revenge games & Making a point
Kareem Jackson made no mistake in showing how the Texans front office were foolish in letting him walk this off-season. As a strong safety, at 31, Kareem can still play at this level. An elite tackler made his presence felt, returning the fumble for a score, a couple of third down stops and an interception, he looked like player playing angry. It was clear the Texans made an error in this decision, as the commanding play on the Denver backend was a stark contrast to the substandard Texans who didn’t stop a Bronco’s scoring drive until their 6th possession, but by that point this one had sailed into the abyss. Just as Drew Locks pass did into the waiting arms of Teshaun Gipson, but the star of the show was Jackson. His point proven, no qualms about it.
Boo Birds and the Angry Mob
The home crowd rightly vocalised their displeasure at the inept Texans performance and the inevitable ‘SACK O’BRIEN’ calls emerge. Now, in the context of the two previous wins, is this loss ill-timed. Yes, it was. Should a team under a 6th year head coach have a greater level of consistency in it’s play. No doubt. But the impact on the overall picture of the season isn’t catastrophic, by any stretch. It was more the speed of the described “avalanche” that the team from the Rockies asserted their dominance with, was the concern. The Houston players seemed to lack the resiliency required to pull themselves back-up out of the mire and mount a come-back. O’Brien was candid in his response when asked why the team hasn’t consistent. It was clear that the answer is evading him. It’s a trait that holding them back. What has been consistent, is the feeling of progress halted, that’s what fuels the supporters frustrations, more than this home loss to and 4-8 Denver team.
Fairweather and Not Seeing the Field
Deshaun pointed at execution as the factor. The team still moved the ball but drives were stalled by penalties and missing targets at key times. The infamous slow start was on display once more and after Keke’s latest fumble, the game was done at an early stage. The game clock seems to drain that bit faster when you face an uphill task but the Texans didn’t find any rhythm, until it was too late. The late scores helped pad out a deplorable Sunday afternoon in Texas. The slow starts have killed this team all year and was apparent by the quick lead built by Denver.
Watson, continued to be pushed off his spot, deep shots were removed by Jackson, Simmons and Harris Jr. The reads and progressions weren’t being fanned through quickly enough and the Bronco’s limited Houston to only 3 first half points. This raises the question again with Watson as it does equally with the play calling. When game flows in their direction, they find a groove. But without Will Fuller again, they struggled and there is yet to be any indication is he makes it back for next week.
Similarly, Deshaun needs to find a way to settle his team when they go down and calmly bring them back into it. The game ran away with such speed, that limited the room for calm. But the no-huddle/up tempo didn’t seem to be there when selectively going for pace, and the running game was successful when utilised was abandoned when it could have balanced out the offence. A day summed up, when the Texans failed 4th down attempts mounted and a puzzling play call – to go to an empty set – when only 1 yard was required. This lead to the another trudging unit leave the field, empty handed.
Where to Next – Neck and Neck in AFC South
This game in reality now makes the wild card race with Tennessee closer that otherwise it should have been. The first round bye is now out of the questions and it will be between New England and the Chiefs, who the latter came out victorious in Foxborough last night. But it would seemed like a hard to discount New England taking the 2nd seed with a run-in against against Bengals, Bills and Dolphins, standing in their way. The Saints loss to the 49ers will likely mean their week 16 game against the Titans – which Sandwiches the Texans-Titans double header – will be a must win for New Orleans.
It would seem, next Sunday’s winner takes the division game as long as they can follow up with a win in their week 16-tie, where Houston travel to Tampa. Tampa may have an ailed Jamies Winston and star wideout Mike Evans looks like he’s done for the year.
Three games to go, effectively play-off football starts Sunday and there will be zero hiding placed where a “gotta-have-it” type performance will be in order. Otherwise the OB detractors will be well placed to add to their view-points. It’s difficult to see anything beyond a late season collapse would even start that discussion.
How much it can all change in a week.