The Good, The Bad, The Embarrassing As Texans Fall To 1-5
Anthony R Wood
Another week, another loss for Houston. The Texans fell at the hands of the Tennessee Titans 42-36 in an overtime heartbreaker for interim head coach Romeo Crennel.
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Pushing an undefeated team to overtime should serve as a crumb of comfort, but this leaves Houston's 1-5 all but over as they surely move into 'damage limitation' mode.
As has been the norm for coordinator Tim Kelly's offense this season, a slow start left them down 14-0 entering the second quarter. However, they did eventually manage to pick up where they left off after their seemingly-promising victory over the Jags last week.
The offensive line did a good job overall in pass protection, allowing just two sacks and five quarterback hits overall. A relatively clean pocket, for the most part, enabled quarterback Deshaun Watson to let it fly to seven different receivers, passing for 335 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. ... Easily his best overall performance of the season to date.
Watson is looking ever-more-comfortable with his new receivers as the likes of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb settle into their new surroundings.
The star weapon on show was, yet again, Will Fuller. With 123 receiving yards, including a 53-yard touchdown reception, he and Cooks are trading off the role of the primary receiver on a game-to-game basis nicely. With his third 100-plus-yards game of the season, Fuller looks confident as ever in an offense that Kelly seems to be getting to grips with. And Randall Cobb demonstrated the ability to be a nice fit as well.
As has been the case all season, the run game was disappointing. The key to any successful offense is balance, something Houston lacks. Their insistence on rushing David Johnson up the middle didn't work in Week 1, and it still doesn't work now. This is partially down to poor blocking, and partially down to the sub-par play of Johnson. In total, 19 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown is simply not enough for a running back costing them $10.2 million in base salary alone this season. Duke Johnson also chimed in with four carries for nine yards, which summarizes their ground game nicely.
The Titans had a total of 601 yards of offense; Need we say more?
Houston's pass rush remains non-existent. Two sacks on the whole and six quarterback hits was the most they could muster, and one of each was down to J.J. Watt alone. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year had an excellent game yet again with a strip-sack, tackle for loss, a quarterback hit, and defended pass.
The fact of the matter is that despite his relentless pressure and productivity influencing the game, he cannot carry this pass rush alone. There is no consistent pressure coming from any other defenders, and this lack of consistency applies also to the woeful run defense.
Anthony Weaver's defense allowed 263 yards on the ground, 212 of that from Derrick Henry. Yes, Henry is a prodigiously-talented running back, but that is appalling. A mixture of poor reads, missed tackles, and inability to beat the blockers led to 'King Henry' tearing this run defense to pieces.
Pair this with quarterback Ryan Tannehill having an absolute field day against Houston's weak secondary, passing for 364 yards and four touchdowns, and an already embarrassing performance got even worse.
Bradley Roby may have recorded Houston's first interception of the season, but this was nothing more than a slight speed bump in an otherwise smooth road for Tannehill.
Ultimately, Watson's offense couldn't overcome the enormous shortcomings of this overpaid and mediocre defense.
Houston's offense had, for the most part, a good game; this should not be forgotten. But despite Watson and company's best efforts, the overarching issue remains this defense.
If the Texans want to be the best, they have to beat the best. And Sunday was another reminder that while the offense is heading in the right direction, this defense has been mismanaged for years. There are maybe three players in this starting defense that could start for the Titans, at most.
Maybe thanks to up until recently being run by an offensive-minded head coach and general manage, the defense is far behind those of their competitors. No doubt, the Titans are an extremely tough team and Houston's schedule so far has been full of some of the league's best. ... but the Texans' goal is to be on par with them.
The Texans are not on par with them.
With the 4-1 Green Bay Packers headed to NRG Stadium this coming weekend, led by a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and coming off a bitter loss to the C, Houston's defense might need to brace itself for more "bad and embarrassing'' than "good.''