Old habits die hard as the Houston Texans responded to last week's unexpected victory against the Tennessee Titans to lose 21-14 against the New York Jets at home on Sunday.
The 2-9 Texans seemed to have lost much of the momentum built up last week as their offense stumbled their way through yet another game. Lovie Smith's defense did its best to give this team a chance to beat a now 3-9 Jets team.
1- Takeaways Slow
After recording an impressive 10 takeaways during their last two games, the Texans' defense somewhat ground to a halt in this regard recording just the one interception on Sunday. This came thanks to a bizarre 'pass' from the Jets' rookie quarterback Zach Wilson straight into the back of a teammate, which Texans cornerback Tavierre Thomas scooped up for a takeaway.
Houston made changes to the offensive line pre-game, and to say they didn't pay off would be an understatement.
Tytus Howard moved to left tackle with Lane Taylor stepping in at left guard, with rookie Jimmy Morrissey, Justin McCray, and Charlie Heck all retaining their positions along the line.
Unfortunately, Houston was unable to handle the pressure from New York's front seven and allowed a total of five sacks for 52 yards as well as seven quarterback hits. The line was also heavily culpable for Tyrod Taylor's first-half interception when Heck and McCray both blew their blocks.
These offensive line issues also negatively affected the run game once again, with Houston recording just 66 yards rushing - excluding Taylor's 30-yard scramble.
3- Blacklock Penalties
Second-year defensive tackle Ross Blacklock has been having a decent year so far, showing his ability on a more consistent basis compared to his disappointing debut season in 2020.
That being said, today was not his day.
With the Texans leading 14-11 to start the third quarter, Blacklock was called for a leverage penalty on New York's field-goal attempt. This gave the Jets a fresh set of downs, an eight-yard gain, and solid field position at Houston's 16-yard line. Then on the subsequent play, Blacklock was called for a penalty again, this time for offside. This cost them another four yards and the Jets then took the lead on the next play.
4- Taylor Stumbles Yet Again
Starting this season, Taylor looked like he was back to his prime, only for him to suffer a hamstring injury halfway through their Week 2 loss to the Cleveland Browns. After missing six games, Taylor has now been back for three, and despite the odd run or deep ball here and there, he looks nothing like his early-season self.
Not helped by the offensive line, little run support, and questionable play-calling, Taylor went 17 of 26 for just 106 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Said Tyrod on the Jets sacking him five times: "We knew those guys could rush the passer'
5- Defensive Pressure
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Despite what their collective record may suggest, Houston's defensive front has been decent for the majority of the year. And today was no exception.
Houston's defense racked up four quarterback hits and four sacks for a loss of 36 yards. This included emerging lineman Jonathan Greenard's team-leading eighth sack.
And yet ...
From Texans linebackeer Kamu Grugier-Hill: 'Super disappointing. Our ability to finish just isn't there.''
6- Challenge Accepted
Third time was the charm for coach David Culley and challenge flags. Having lost his first two, Culley successfully challenged a completed pass in the fourth-quarter which wiped out a six yard gain. The Jets went on to score a field goal later that drive.
7- Ka'imi Finds His Limits
Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn failed to match his NFL career-long field goal from 55 yards. That was just his third missed field goal of the season.
8- Anyone Know of any Stud Defensive Backs?
The decision to list starting safety Justin Reid as a healthy scratch for disciplinary reasons caught everyone by surprise. Reid has been a mainstay for the Texans the last four years and is known for his leadership.
While it is anybody's guess how much of a difference his presence would have made, the fact is that Wilson found his rhythm the second half.
9- Where's Cooks?
Sunday was yet another impressive day for Brandin Cooks. Houston's best player, Cooks hasn't had over 100 yards receiving since Week 3 and only had 63 yards on just five receptions in his last two games. But he responded against the Jets with three catches including a 40-yard touchdown.
If the Texans are serious about winning again this year, their best players, like Cooks, should surely be central to every game plan.
10- Second Half Yardage
Houston had just 202 yards of offense against the Jets. That alone is a poor statistic, but what is even worse is that in the second half the Texans had just 45 yards offensively for two punts, one missed field goal, and a turnover on downs.
This has been a trend all season, and it doesn't take a genius to see that something in this offensive game plan needs to change. Drastically.
One thing that won't change? "Tim (Kelly) is my play-caller,'' coach David Culley said. "He'll stay my play-caller.'