When bleep hits the fan, we humans have a way of lying to ourselves. We think we can handle the truth . . . until we actually know it. And when we do know it, we’ll do all we can to inflate ANY small silver lining into a blimp sized balloon.
Be honest with yourself. After the Texans’ 27 – 20 loss to the Chiefs Sunday, did you tell yourself ANY of the following statements?
“No worries, it’s a 16 game season!”
“Besides, Arian Foster wasn’t there, and Clowney’s still getting back to form.”
“And hey man, they finished the game strong!”
I wish I could spin Sunday’s loss to myself. After all, I – perhaps foolishly – saw the Texans as a 10-6 playoff caliber team.
But there’s no silver lining after Sunday’s loss. The Texans sleptwalked through the entire first half. Then worse: discovered that Brian Hoyer is still in fact Brian Hoyer. Let’s begin this week’s “In A Nutshell” with the easy pickings:
Game of Quarterbacks
Brian Hoyer had a good preseason. Alas, Sunday was a Battle Red wedding-esque avalanche of reality. Those games didn’t matter. And this one – where Hoyer threw an interception on his first pass (which led to a touchdown), set up another Kansas City score with a fumble, then showed the accuracy we all . . . laughed at in Cleveland – did.
Bill O’Brien didn’t make a decision at quarterback immediately after the game. But until Ryan Mallett fails, there’s no going back to Hoyer, right? He’s still the same guy. And no matter how much O’Brien might like Hoyer, he isn’t the quarterback MacGyver.
Meanwhile, Mallett did look good. But let’s see how he does when a team – starting (theoretically) with Carolina’s upper-echelon D – has a full week to prepare for him. Or if he can have the same success when the game is close . . . not just when he’s playing a laxed defense with a three score lead.
In retrospect, we’ve got a couple of questions to ask ourselves:
- Do we credit Bill O’Brien for eventually pulling Hoyer for Mallett?
- Or, do we fault O’Brien for leaving Hoyer in as long as he did?
- And on top of that . . . fault O’Brien for picking Hoyer as starter over Mallett?
If you said yes to the third question, the first two don’t really matter. I’m not of that opinion though. I thought Hoyer’s preseason performances were better – thought marginally – than those of Mallett, and didn’t have a problem with O’Brien’s original decision. Yet here we awkwardly are: seeing that decision fail three quarters into 2015.
We waited all offseason for our first glimpse of the Texans defense at full strength. They weren’t bad – outside of Alex Smith’s 42 yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce, who they legitimately forgot about – but they weren’t lights out like most envisioned. They were more . . . rusty in the first half. Most alarming of which was cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who had a tough time keeping tabs on Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin.
That rust led to over-aggression and missed tackles. Kansas City picked the Texans apart with screens and gimmick plays, and Houston always seemed a step or two behind. Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles did Jamaal Charles things, taking full advantage of all those missed tackles.
It’s a good thing that the Texans have DeAndre Hopkins in the red zone. I’m not sure they’d have made it into the end zone Sunday if they’d tried to pound it in on the ground . . . no matter how good their rushing statistics – 21 carries for 98 yards – looked on paper. Hey Bill O’Brien, your thoughts on that third quarter fourth and one failure:
“That was terrible. Terrible. It was terrible. We’ve got to do a better job there. Fourth-and-1, it wasn’t even fourth-and-1. We’ve got to coach it better. We have to execute it better. It was terrible.”
Randy Bullock missed the first extra point from the 15 in league history. On top of that, he barely made that 47 yard field goal at the end of the game (Seriously, are we sure that kick actually went in?), and had an abysmal onside kick right after.
While we’re on the special teams, let’s raise a glass to the time the Texans had 9 guys on the field for a punt return!
Those Receivers, Though
Considering Brian Hoyer’s accuracy issues, this was an impressive start for the Texans’ wideouts. DeAndre Hopkins is a red zone destroyer of worlds – see both touchdown receptions and his 2 point conversion – while Nate Washington quietly had an impressive stat-line: 6 catches for 105 yards. Throw in Cecil Shorts III’s 4 catches for 57 yards, then multiply that by Andre Johnson’s mediocre debut for the Colts (4 catches for 24 yards on 9 targets), and you’ve got to feel pretty good about this group of receivers. Now if only they had consistency THROWING them the ball . . .
Neither Jadeveon Clowney or Brian Cushing were dominant Sunday. But they both had an impact on the game, and at the very least looked significantly more spry than they had at any point during 2014. Cushing was active – leading the team with 10 total tackles – while Clowney showed glimpses of that first round potential. Let’s revisit these two every game.
Obviously This Guy
9 Tackles. 2 without a helmet. 6 for a loss. 2 sacks. Please don’t hurt me.
Paul Gallant co-hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – 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 at his facebook page: Paul Gallant: SportsRadio610.