I’m conflicted about the Texans 26 – 23 OT win over the Colts Sunday night. And you should be too.
“Damnit Paul, it hasn’t even been a day and you’re already poking holes in an incredible win? Do you enjoy anything?”
You’re not? Because come on. The first 53 minutes or so of this game were another re-run of offensive ineptitude. Hell, you could argue it was the first 57 minutes based off of their lethargic touchdown drive to pull within one score. The Texans offense was just awful, and no one was worse than Brock Osweiler. Again. And to make matters worse, it was THE COLTS defense – one of the most wretched units in the league – that was giving him fits. It felt like the final straw for Osweiler, who’d been steadily regressing for almost three games in a row.
And then Lamar Miller made an incredible play on 3rd and 7 to pull the Texans within a score. The defense made a stand. Everyone’s jaw dropped when Osweiler hit C.J. Fiedorowicz for the game tying 26 yard touchdown pass with :49 seconds to go. The D kept Andrew Luck from doing Andrew Luck things in the last minute of regulation AND on the first drive of OT. And to cap it all off, Brock Osweiler’s best pass of the night – a 36 yard bomb to Jaelen Strong – set up Nick Novak’s 33 yard game winner in OT.
It was a fun comeback, and easily the most enjoyable ending to a game that I’ve seen during my 5 years covering the Texans. But ultimately, it was a game the Texans should have won against a struggling AFC South team. And it shouldn’t change your opinion of what the Texans are. They’re a mediocre team in a bad division. And they’ll be that until they can simply COMPETE with teams like the Patriots, Vikings, or Broncos next Monday night in Denver.
Well ONE of those big contracts might be working out…
When discussing anything related to the Texans offense Sunday night, we must repeat this: the Colts defense is an abomination. So Lamar Miller’s big game SHOULD have happened. And against a soft defense like that of Indy, he probably should have had even more touches than this:
- 24 carries for 149 yards and a TD
- 3 catches for 29 yards and a TD
Also, this happened:
They might end up running him into the ground. But the Texans have to keep getting Miller involved in the offense the way they did Sunday night. Especially in the passing game. Look at what Miller did on the screen above. Then consider that the Broncos – who the Texans play next week – gave up a combined 7 catches for 167 yards and a TD to Falcons running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman two weeks ago. MORE OF THAT.
Good for this guy!
We’re very critical in sports media. And we’ve been especially critical of tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz over his 3 year stint with the Texans. I think it’s been fair criticism. Until recently, his positive contributions had been few and far between.
But he’s done a lot to change our opinion of him over the last 3 weeks. Fiedorowicz led the Texans in receiving Sunday night – 6 catches for 85 yards and a TD – and has 14 receptions for 194 yards and 2 scores in his last 3 weeks. And he did this while dealing with a sprained MCL and an ankle injury.
Contrary to what you might think, I actually enjoy when a player or team shuts me up. Fiedorowicz is doing exactly that. And based off what Chargers tight end Hunter Henry did Thursday night against the Broncos – 6 catches for 83 yards and a TD – Fiedorowicz could be the key to an upset in Denver.
By the way, even Ryan Griffin got in on the tight end action. 3 catches. 31 yards. Nice.
It was pretty ugly early, but the Texans made a major effort to get DeAndre Hopkins involved. Brock Osweiler targeted him 15 times, and Hopkins ended up with 9 catches for 71 yards. He’d been targeted just 15 times (catching 6 for 60 yards) in the 2 weeks prior. Perhaps this mildly violent looking photo can explain why . . .
The Whole Defense
It was far from perfect, especially with all the missed tackles. But despite being put in a lot of bad situations by an offense with no pulse for the first 3 quarters, the Texans’ defense kept them in the game right until the end.
Whitney Mercilus, Bernardrick McKinney, and Jadeveon Clowney were all over the place making plays. And an EXTREMELY banged up secondary – without starters Kareem Jackson and Quentin Demps, plus Johnathan Joseph dealing with a forearm injury and Kevin Johnson eventually breaking his foot (which is the biggest shame, because he played great AND missed just one snap . . . but may have re-aggravated the same injury he suffered last year) – was able to keep Andrew Luck and speedster T.Y. Hilton (3 catches for 49 yards on 9 targets) in check. The catches Hilton DID make were incredible plays.
The good news? Cornerback A.J. Bouye is turning into a very solid player. But the bad? Charles James – who always struggles in coverage – is going to get more reps at corner. We’ll see if newcomer cornerback Robert Nelson – who had his first career interception Sunday – can replicate his performance. He had a couple of key tackles on special teams too.
PS – I’d have put this in THE GOOD category if they’d been able to slow down Frank Gore. Indy doesn’t have a good offensive line and Gore is ancient. 100+ yards shouldn’t have happened.
They were a mixed bag on Sunday. On one end, Nick Novak made the game winning field goal and made both of his attempts. But he also missed an early extra point . . . and had he made it, Brock Osweiler’s TD pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz would have iced the game.
Shane Lechler knocked 2 punts inside the Colts 20. But he also had a couple of punts for less than 40 yards – one for 31 to Indy’s 40, and another for 38 to midfield – which set the Colts up with short fields for a touchdown and field goal respectively.
Braxton Miller’s lone kick return of the game went just 17 yards. But on a positive note, punt returner Tyler Ervin averaged 11.5 yards a return.
It was a mixed bag. It could have been better. Could have been worse. Now on to the topic you want to hear about.
“But Paul! Blah Blah Blah, Blah, 4th Quarter! Comebacks! Improbabilities! Sports!”
Yes, he turned it around at the very end against one of the NFL’s worst defenses. But come on. Osweiler was awful for three more inexcusable quarters Sunday, and had me and everyone at NRG Stadium questioning my passion for football. LOOK AT ALL THE WHINING I DID.
His first throw was nearly picked off. He threw another interception with his back to the goal line. And he was woefully inaccurate for most of the game. Yes, the offensive line didn’t exactly help. 4 man rushes were routinely getting to him. Like . . . this actually happened.
Still. Be honest. How many people felt confident about Osweiler at any point during the game? It sure as hell wasn’t at halftime . . .
Or in the first 3 quarters . . .
He was woefully inaccurate. He was feeling pressure that wasn’t there. And he was everything we’ve come to expect: bad.
But then he did the one thing that has made me hold out a minuscule sliver of hope: complete two tough passes downfield. The passes to Fiedorowicz and Strong in the 4th quarter then overtime were right on the money. So . . .
Now let’s discuss his relationship with Bill O’Brien. Which is confusing. Obviously there was this article, which I don’t think was a big deal at all. Wow, Osweiler objected to some play-calling decisions in a meeting over week 5 and Bill O’Brien got worked up? What a surprise.
Still, it feels like something is up. Take a look at some of the quotes from Sunday night:
Q: Can you share what you said to QB Brock Osweiler at halftime to keep his head in the game?
O’Brien: “No. We didn’t really talk to Brock at half. He was with the doctors. His head was always in the game. It was just a matter of everybody, coaches and players alike, just doing a better job in the second half and that’s what we did.”
I asked a follow up about what Osweiler was dealing with a few minutes later:
O’Brien: “I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
And then this…
Q: What changed for QB Brock Osweiler in the final two drives of regulation and in overtime?
O’Brien: “We called plays that he likes and he executed them with his teammates.”
I don’t want to make too much out of these quotes. But I raised my eyebrows when I heard his tone immediately after the game. And then his demeanor Monday was totally different. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this going forward.
Paul Gallant hosts “Gallant at Night” – Tuesdays 9-11 PM, Wednesdays 8-11 PM, and Fridays 8-11 PM on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or his facebook page.