HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Thanks to tiebreakers, the Texans still lead the AFC South. And they’ve yet to lose a division game. But after 3 straight losses – putting them on the same level with the 6-6 Titans and POTENTIALLY with the 5-6 Colts – the mood is quite different at NRG.
“We need everybody to step up,” said Texans coach Bill O’Brien at his press conference today. “Whether they’re banged up. Getting extra treatment. Being attentive in the meetings. Practicing hard.”
“It starts with me,” continued O’Brien. “Got to do a better job. And if we don’t, then we’re not going to be where we want to be. But if we do, then we’ll have a shot to win these games.”
O’Brien doesn’t think the struggles are a result of effort. Once again, it all boils down to the execution.
“A lot of guys are playing hurt,” said O’Brien. “I really appreciate that . . . Guys are playing hard. It’s not a matter of effort. It’s really just a matter of execution, particularly in really critical situations. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Especially on offense. Once again, for the second straight game, the Texans were held to just 7 points until late in the fourth quarter.
“Obviously – been saying it all year – we have to do a better job,” said O’Brien. “We all have to do a better job in critical situations. Third downs. Red area. End of the half. Really when you’re playing a good football team you’ve got to take advantage of any kind of break you can.”
The defense seemed to fall apart in the fourth quarter.
“We have not played well defensively in the fourth quarter,” said O’Brien. “Or coached well. We have to coach and play better in the fourth quarter of these games. We’ve given up too many points the last couple of weeks in the fourth quarter and we have to finish games better.”
O’Brien was asked by KHOU’s Dane Cleven if he found it frustrating that the Texans keep dealing with the same recurring themes.
“It’s frustrating,” answered O’Brien. “But that’s our job, keep trying to figure out ways to make sure that our players are put in good positions to make plays . . . At times we look like the type of team we want to be but certainly not enough. And we have to keep figuring out how to fix that.”
O’Brien talked about some of those recurring themes, whether it was shaky pass protection:
“It was terrible. It’s got to get a lot better. It was just not good enough,” said O’Brien. “Brock was under pressure most of the day and had to run sometimes, move in the pocket. And so it just wasn’t good enough. Brock was under pressure most of the day and had to run sometimes, had to move in the pocket”
Or in game decisions. Specifically, some early timeouts that kept the Texans from stopping the clock late.
“That was terrible,” continued O’Brien. “One time we had 12 on the field on defense. The other time we just didn’t know the play for the 4th and 1 play that we ended up converting. But then I didn’t have all 3 timeouts to use for their 4 minute offense at the end of the game. Those things add up. We have to all have to do a better job there. That’s coaching and playing.”
On the injury front, O’Brien didn’t have much to say. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph and Wide Receiver Braxton Miller – both of whom left the Packers game with injuries – are “doing okay” and “have a chance” to play against the Colts. O’Brien also said the statuses of Jadeveon Clowney and backup QB Tom Savage will be more clear later in the week. It was interesting to note that running back Lamar Miller is pretty banged up.
“Lamar’s dealing with all kinds of injuries, not just one injury,” said O’Brien. “He’s dealing with injuries in four different areas of his body.”
I asked O’Brien if it’s difficult to move on to the next week – and if it’s difficult to come into work – in the midst of a multi game losing streak.
“It’s never difficult to come to work when they’re paying you to coach and play football,” answered O’Brien. “That was one of my points to the team today. They’re actually handing you a paycheck to coach and play football? That’s better than working.”
O’Brien went on to say that the team is totally on to their game Sunday in Indianapolis. The Texans won there for the first time in team history last season. But, they did it in a game where the Colts were without starting quarterback Andrew Luck.
“Where do you begin,” said O’Brien. “Andrew’s big. He can run. He’s very accurate. He’s very tough. He never thinks the play’s over so he’s very difficult to sack . . . Just a great player. A very competitive guy. I’ve always enjoyed watching him. Haven’t always enjoyed coaching against him.”
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.