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'We're Undisciplined': Brandin Cooks Pinpoints 1-5 Texans Problem

The discipline is lacking, and the answers for why it’s not a part of the Texans’ every-game personality is hard to grasp and impossible to ignore.

INDIANAPOLIS – Raw, honest and introspective, Brandin Cooks’ somber tone matched his dark clothing following another disheartening defeat Sunday afternoon.

The veteran wide receiver underscored the dire state of the 1-5 Houston Texans: a stumbling football team mired in a five-game losing streak following its latest setback, a 31-3 road loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Texans have regressed into a team that can’t stop committing crucial penalties, an overhauled outfit that keeps committing costly turnovers, that keeps misses tackles, that has frustrating mental busts and critical missed blocks.

At their essence, this is who the Texans are, in Cooks’ estimation, and also borne out in disappointing weekly performances that prevent the team from changing its losing ways.

“We’re an undisciplined team,” said Cooks, who caught nine passes for 89 yards on 13 targets. “I’m being very honest with you. From all of us, we’ve all got some type of accountability in that. We’re undisciplined It’s just the truth. It’s about everyday life choices. It’s about, deep down inside, individually, do you want to be that or not? It’s as simple as that. We can’t make our teammates, we can’t make anyone else do that. You’ve got to do it by yourself.

“I’m not surprised as far as why it’s been going on. It’s been going on since Game One, and we still haven’t fixed it. That’s an individual thing. You can’t make anyone be disciplined. You’ve got to want to be disciplined. Do you want to be that or not? It’s as simple as that. Success is not a gimmick. Discipline is not a gimmick.”

Cooks is 100-percent correct, and all of those shortcomings were on display from the first offensive play of the game for the woebegone Texans as tight end Pharaoh Brown was flagged for a false start.

“It sucks coming out here getting your butt kicked and losing games,” Texans veteran running back Mark Ingram said. “Obviously, losing sucks but we’re trying to get better."

From rookie quarterback Davis Mills’ pivotal third quarter interception over the middle to linebacker Darius Leonard while trailing 10-3 that led to the Colts putting the game away with an ensuing touchdown pass to tight end Mo Alie-Cox to missed tackles on running back Jonathan Taylor’s 83-yard run, the Texans kept breaking down and breaking down again.

The Texans have been outscored by a combined 71-3 margin in their past two road games, including a 40-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

“We started the game with a penalty,” Texans coach David Culley said. “It didn't have a whole big bearing on it, but that's been our M.O.”

The Texans were fairly competitive in the first half, trailing only 10-3 at halftime as Mills was sharp for the second game in a row after throwing three touchdown passes with no interceptions a week ago in a 25-22 loss to the New England Patriots. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 139 yards and no interceptions for a solid 88.9 passer rating in the first half, but threw two interceptions in the second half when the game was decided.

He finished 29 of 43 for 243 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a substandard 62.5 passer rating.

Despite the presence of several experienced, older, accomplished players, the Texans simply make way too many mistakes.

“You can talk about it all you want,” said Ingram, who rushed for 73 yards on 18 carries. “You can emphasize it all you want but until you have the discipline to go out there, know the snap count and know the cadence of the quarterback's tone and what we're going on, you're just going to have those errors. Every individual person has to be accountable, be disciplined, be fundamentally sound. Pre-snap penalties ,that's bad football.

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“Individually, it’s just the focus. It’s the discipline. It’s the small attention to details. And we have to continue to get better at that if we want to turn this thing around.”

In order for that to happen, the Texans will need to engineer a dramatic batch of improvement and halt the miscues.

Whether it’s running back David Johnson losing a fumble or failing to pick up a blitz in pass protection or the Texans, one of the most penalized teams in the league, committing four penalties while the Colts were only flagged twice, the errors are compounded by more errors.

The discipline is lacking, and the answers for why it’s not a part of the Texans’ every-game personality is hard to grasp and impossible to ignore.

“I see it not being there, let’s just call it like it is,” Cooks said. “Being penalized, obviously it’s not there.”

The Texans have now fallen short against the Colts, an AFC South division rival, in six of the past seven games of the annual series.

They allowed Taylor to pound them for 145 yards on 14 carries.

They kept giving up deep shots as quarterback Carson Wentz had explosive plays of 52 yards to T.Y. Hilton and a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Parris Campbell.

The only points the Texans could muster was a 31-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn late in the first half.

"I felt like when we came out in the second half, it was very important for us to get a stop and we got the stop," Culley said. "But the next series, we throw an interception and then they get a big play and then it snowballed from there."

During his address to the team, Culley reinforced the problems that are dragging the Texans into a downward spiral.

“Coach Culley said, ‘First play of the game, we have a penalty,’ that's just bad football,” Ingram said. “Turning the ball over, that's bad football. Allowing big plays, that's bad football. Those are all things he emphasized all week long. We're not pointing fingers. but turnovers, penalties, unforced errors, that's bad football and those are things that will keep you getting beat."

Ingram emphasized that the Texans don’t have a divided locker room. If anything, the team remains a tight unit. Regardless of good intentions, though, the results are undeniably not there.

“Man, we've got a good group of guys who believe in each other and fight for each other,” said Ingram, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. “We go out and prepare and we come out here and try to get victories and try to put ourselves in in position to get victories. We all have to lock in and buckle in a little bit more and pay a little more attention to detail and have a lot more focus and a lot more discipline.

“Football is a simple game. You got to take care of the football. You can't have penalties. You can't shoot yourself in the foot. That's the way to lose games. We’ve got to continue to improve, keep holding yourself accountable and get this thing going the right way. We believe in each other. We fight for each other. We're sticking together. We're going to try to turn this thing around.”