HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Given how sloppy the Houston Texans have looked at times this season, it’s pretty surprising that their 6 wins is the second highest total in the AFC.
Sure, they’ve had a couple of good wins against the Chiefs and Lions. But stinkers on national television against the Patriots and Broncos, a thorough beat down courtesy of the Vikings (who have lost 4 games in a row), and shaky play from starting quarterback Brock Osweiler have made it tough for the team to inspire any confidence or respect.
“I don’t really think about that too much,” said Texans head coach Bill O’Brien at his Monday press conference. “I think that if you talk to the teams that have played us this year, I think they respect us. I think that our players work very hard. I’m a big believer in our players and I know it hasn’t always looked pretty, but we’re playing the games the way we feel we need to play them.”
“If some guy in New York City or LA doesn’t respect us, like, too bad,” continued O’Brien. “I know that our opponents respect us and there’s a lot of hard work and tough football players in this building.”
The Texans have never had the “sexiest” offense under Bill O’Brien. And that – combined with the $37 million guaranteed to the struggling Brock Osweiler – probably has a lot to do with the lack of respect – both nationally AND locally – for Houston’s 6-3 record.
Yet they keep winning, despite all of their statistics that rank them at the bottom of the league. And there’s been a trend to those wins: success on the ground. O’Brien gave all the guys who blocked – Duane Brown, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Greg Mancz, Jeff Allen, Chris Clark, Kendall Lamm, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin, and Jay Prosch – credit for making that happen Sunday.
“Whenever you rush for 180 yards, it’s not just the backs (Lamar Miller, Akeem Hunt, and Alfred Blue) obviously. Those guys upfront are doing a good job and that was good to see yesterday.”
Combine that success on the ground with solid play on special teams and some good field position, and you can better understand how the Texans won with Brock Osweiler only throwing for 99 yards.
“A big part of the formula for us if we can flip the field with special teams and really play a good field position game. In our wins, we’ve been able to do that. In our losses, we haven’t. It really helps you.”
Interestingly, O’Brien admitted today that he and Offensive Coordinator George Godsey collaborate to call plays.
“I’d say that yesterday George called the majority of the plays, but we’re doing it together if that makes sense,” answered O’Brien when asked if Godsey had resumed play calling duties. “We’re talking about – not play-to-play but series-to-series – George is a very bright guy and I think it’s what’s best for the team. What I found out is you can’t just stay the same. If you think you’re doing something that’s taking you down the wrong path, then you have to fix that. That means this year, in 2016, George and I are working closely together to call the best plays we can during the game.”
He also admitted that he should have called for a couple of kneeldowns – instead of handing it off – on the final 2 plays of the game.
“So, when we converted the third down with (DeAndre) Hopkins, which was a heck of a play by Brock (Osweiler) and by Hopkins, they had one timeout left on that play and we felt like they were going to call that timeout right away,” explained O’Brien when I asked him about that. “They didn’t, so we felt like, OK, they still had the timeout so we were going to run it on that first down play, and what we should have done is we were OK running it on the first down play, when they banged their timeout after that first down play we should have kneeled it on second down. That’s the mistake that I made and it won’t happen again.”
The Texans’ next test is their toughest for the rest of the season. At 7-2, the Raiders are in a 3 way tie with the Chiefs and Patriots for the AFC’s best record. And as things currently stand, Oakland is the only opponent left on the Houston’s schedule with a record currently better than .500.
“They’re playing as one of the best teams in the league,” said O’Brien. “I think that they’re very athletic. I think offensively just watching a lot of their film here over the last couple days, big, big offensive line. Downhill running attack. Derek Carr is playing very, very well. He’s playing good situational football. He can run. He’s got a quick release. He’s accurate. They’ve got some go to guys in the passing game with Amari Cooper and (Michael) Crabtree, (Seth) Roberts, (Andre) Holmes, the tight end. Like I said (Latavius) Murray, the back, downhill guy, so it’s a tough challenge for our defense. Offensively, our offense versus their defense, you know, they really challenge you. No yards are going to be easy. So it’s going to be a very, very challenging game for us.”
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.