O’Brien’s football team look short of any discernible contending qualities for the third week in row. After an 0-3 start to the season, their weaknesses are apparent as they show limited signs of improvement.
When Deshaun Watson marched the offence down the field with less than a minute left in the first half, it seemed for a brief moment that this Texans offence had finally come alive. Alas, it was a false dawn, as Houston failed to register a single point in the second half, which confined them to a 28-21 defeat.
O’Brien seemed almost blasé in his post match media conference. Sighting the long yards to gain as a constant factor. He didn’t strike the figure that was feeling the heat. His heavily invested offensive line was again suspect, not aided by Deshaun Watson overplaying. The fluidity of play-calling and execution had small pockets of progress but they failed to move the ball on three of their 4 attempts in the second half, the other resulted in an interception.
Following that interception, the Steelers predominately ran the ball to seal the final score, just as they did to kneel the game out. For the second straight week the defence, who were on the field over 13 minutes more than their stumbling, offensive counterparts. caved towards the end.
The Defence had, for three quarters, given another admirable account of themselves, bar the blown coverage on the Smith-Schuster touchdown. Holding the Steelers to 218 passing yards was laudable but as their tiredness grew, they finished the day conceding 169 on the ground.
Though JJ Watt struggled against back-up Tackle Okorafor, in only his 5th start. Whitney Mercilus once again is making that contract look like a horrific error or judgment, who was embarrassed by Ben Roethlisberger twice. Once in run blocking and then the 37-year old veteran, beat him to the outside to set up one of two successful 4th down attempts. As the Steelers, aided by the return of David DeCastro won the battle of the trenches and time of possession.
There were some small glimmers of hope, as the pass rush continues to look improved as Charles Omenihu and a rare Carlos Watkins sack got the unit off the field on a number of Steelers drives. Similarly, the ball was spread around with a greater degree of variance throughout the skill positions on the offence, both Will Fuller and Randall Cobb registered their first touchdowns on the year.
This teams plight is firmly on one man, who’s been given the autonomy to win, trusted to make this city’s football team successful but despite that faith, the Texans face a paradoxical situation. They are in severe risk of wasting years of Watson’s prime. A quarterback who took a number of big hit again Sunday and was sacked 5 times.
An 0-3 start has historically, limited a team’s chance of making the play-offs but with an added 7th entry spot in the post season, Bill’s year-seven Texans seemed to have their name written on. Though, if they were to drop to 0-4, that would be something many could digest in the hope of much needed structural change in Houston. It’s been clear from these first three weeks, the team has regressed, which would have seemed impossible considering their quarterbacks talents.
A beleaguered fan-base may somewhere deep down find a level of comfort in Minnesota’s visit to NRG next Sunday. Equally in the sense that they are 0-3, whilst also a loss could perhaps awaken this franchise’s ownership to a view that many have long held about this head-coach.