The Texans have made the play-off’s by taking command of the AFC south with a win against the rival Tennessee Titans. But then made hard work of a Tampa team who had nothing to play for. The last two weeks have encapsulated the transient nature of this team, with a wildcard berth on the horizon, questions loom with this team in an all too similar fashion to seasons prior.
Ten wins with the chance of eleven is where this Houston team stands with one game to play, with this Sundays visit of the Titans to NRG. A play-off spot secured with one week to spare, an outcome that most in the building would grasped, if offered at the seasons outset. Although it’s hard not to feel a sense of equal overachievement and an angst, at what could have been this season. Some of the highs have been high from Watson and the offence, performances against Kansas City, New England and Atlanta. Even the week-1 loss to New Orleans was a showing of high octane offence. Although the lows have been low, Carolina and Denver in particular were both games where positives were hard to find.
Based on these highlight performances in isolation, you’d be accurate in thinking you were watching a team with genuine championship aspirations. Whilst watching the same team in the following weeks, they have appeared as a team in rebuild mode with one eye on the draft and free agency. The good games has been enough to claim a second consecutive AFC South title but within the context of their rivals troubles, these achievements are easily knocked. Moreover, in season three of a franchise quarterback and year six for its head coach, it’s difficult to not feel results have been left out there this season.
The level of change-over in personnel is perhaps at the heart of the inconsistency, despite having a franchise quarterback. Who would have envisaged that the teams biggest weakness would now be it’s pass rush? And during pre-season how feasible would the notion of been, at some point in the season, the cornerback and offensive line would appear to have been corrected? A complete change it the team’s identity which has lead to a team that still appears to be finding its way. And it’s shown in their results each Sunday.
That being said, the Texans fortunes start and end with Watson and what he’s able to do on the field, his inconsistency has mirrored the teams results. Deshaun’s level of discrepancy in levels of play from when he’s in the zone, versus when he’s not is alarming. He can’t be left solely to blame but he must shoulder the majority of it. Just as he and the coaching staff need to show a readiness and a willingness to change the offensive game plan when games aren’t going their way. Until this is answered, inconsistency will haunt this team and risk another post-season one and done – an outcome that no one in the buildings would have taken prior to the season.
Sundays game had been moved due to Tennessee’s play off aspirations, both them and the Steelers are fighting it out for the final slot. The Steelers are travelling to Baltimore, who plan to their stars ahead of the play-offs, which throws any pre-conceived predictions to one side. However, if the LA Chargers can spring an upset against the KC Chiefs in the early slate, then the Texans would have the chance of the third seed, as they would finish above KC on head-to-head record win a with at 11 wins each.
If Kansas City are to seal the 3rd seed in the early games then it would be advisable to increase the rotation of players with a view of increased rest prior to what in all likelihood seems set for the visit of Buffalo.
A match up that would be a concern, a strong defence that gave the Texans its toughest test last season. Not only have the Bills improved this unit further with the addition of UofHouston alum, Ed Oliver. Perhaps the biggest difference from last season, Josh Allen has found an improve offence, with increased protection and weapons on the offence with Morse, Brown and Beasley all being plus additions for the Bills.
A concern and a feasible one at that, would be heading out at the first hurdle in the play-off’s. But uniformly when Watson and the offence is on, they’ve shown they can beat anyone. If consistency and way to play without Will Fuller can be found then this team has a chance, but that seems a big IF as we stand today.
A JJ Watt return aside, this team needs to get a consistency on offence in whatever way it can, if they are to find a way to win in the 2019 post season.