Down just 10-3 at halftime to the Indianapolis Colts, the game was still wide open for the Houston Texans. But as has been the theme for this Texans team all season, the second half never fares well…
In the last five games, all of which Houston lost, the Texans have been outscored 88-17 in the second half. To make their consistent capitulation that much more tough to stomach for Texans fans, of those five, Houston entered halftime down one score or less in three and even leading one.
So, from a defensive standpoint - What's going wrong?
“I feel like we play pretty dominant in the first halves and then something happens,” linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said. “We have to learn how to finish. That’s just kind of the theme of the whole year.”
Exactly what that ‘something’ is and what they need to learn in order to fix this is up for debate.
But as far as emerging defensive end Jonathan Greenard is concerned, they have the roster, they have the coaches … they simply need to execute on a consistent basis.
“We show too many flashes and I think at this point, that is what we are known for is a team that flashes instead of consistently flashing to where that’s actually us, that’s our identity," Greenard said. "Until we actually get that identify of ourselves to know that on those flash plays we get sacks, we get picks, we get strips, fumbles, all of those things. When we consistently do that, we will get the title we want, but until then they are going to continue to treat us the way that they do because we keep putting that on film, it’s a team that flashes.”
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What makes the situation that much more frustrating is that the defensive failures in recent weeks aren't solely down to a lack of 'flashy' plays, but just the most basic of mistakes.
"Guys not being in the right place where they should be," coach David Culley said when asked about Indianapolis' open passes. "Guys not playing their keys. Guys seeing things that they really shouldn't be seeing and that's what happens, you know, not really playing their keys and playing what they should be on defense."
To clarify, this issue is team-wide, not defense specific.
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks made his brutally honest opinions on their overall performance perfectly clear post-game, calling them "an undisciplined team."
What makes this situation that much more frustrating is that every player on this team is there for a reason, every one of them is capable and has earned a spot on an NFL roster.
Does this automatically make them all starter-level talents? No. But, it should make each and every one of them able to execute the fundamentals and occasionally make a play. And if you were to focus just on their first-half displays, you'd see that this bare minimum is within this team's reach.
Whatever it’s mental, physical, or coaching, it is consistently hampering them come the latter 30 minutes. They need to figure it out quickly because it's not just a 'team title' they're playing/coaching for; it could well be their careers.