I’m at a loss. My Houston Texans are bad, really bad. They have been bad before, but the abysmal 2-14 season had all the signs showing a meltdown and no one was really surprised that it came. Matt Schaub had lost his touch, and Gary Kubiak had run his course (about two year’s earlier, but you know that Rick Smith blind loyalty, folks!). This year, this is different, and this team is worse than that 2-14 team.
I don’t want to hear anything about a Hard Knocks curse. This has nothing to do with Hard Knocks, because quite frankly, if you believed that this team was going to win the AFC South with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett at the helms, well then, that was your fault. Hard Knocks is a “reality” show.
I had never seen an episode of Hard Knocks until my favorite team became the star. All this show did was focus on stories: the tough guy coach in B.O.B, the new friendship of Vince Wilfork and J.J. Watt, and some lesser names like Charles James II that the nation fell in love with because of their all out hustle. What they didn’t focus on was actual football.
There was a lot of things wrong with this Texans team heading into the season, but I truly believed that Bill O’Brien — after an exciting rookie season as a head coach in the NFL — was the man to keep this team afloat. Now, I believe he may be the source of all the problems.
Where to start? I know!
The QB Situation:
This one is all on B.O.B. (and maybe a little of the front office). Last season, the Texans rose from the worst team in the NFL to being right on the cusp on the playoffs until Joe Flacco led a comeback to knock them out. That season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was at the helms.
Now, Fitzpatrick isn’t a franchise QB by any means, but I have said it 100 times. If you give him the right pieces, like a solid ground game, a top notch receiver and a good defense, he will win you games and keep you in the hunt (cue the New York Jets). The Texans had all that for him, yet they let him walk.
Teams let the wrong guy walk all the time, but the two pieces they brought into replace him were O’Brien guys. He traded for Mallett (who he knew from his Pats days) and he wanted Hoyer (also one of his guys from the Pats) who statistically speaking, was the worst QB in the NFL down the home stretch in 2014.
This was the team O’Brien set up, a team with his pieces in place. Who else could possibly be held accountable? Speaking of bad QBs…
The Ryan Mallett situation…
They botched this one up real bad. Talent wise, I’m not so sure he is an NFL QB. Character wise, he has proven he isn’t.
The whole thing about Hard Knock was that they portrayed B.O.B as a f-bomb dropping, take-no-crap-kinda-guy, but thus far, Mallett has walked all over this team and nothing has happened.
The day after he lost the starting job, he slept through practice. The Thursday night game when he was pulled (he took himself out of the game with a minor injury, remember) he stood on the sidelines and pouted the ENTIRE game. And then this weekend he missed his flight… I don’t care about traffic, you don’t miss the flight.
The surprising thing about the Mallett incidents is that B.O.B is from the Bill Belichick coaching tree. You think Bill would tolerate that kind of stuff? Mallett would have been cut the day he missed that first practice, but instead tough guy B.O.B. keeps him lingering around.
You know why? They have no other QB. They inexplicably put Tom Savage on the season ending IR, instead of the IR able to return. Now they are stuck with this me-first Mallett as the back-up, or the starter, or the back-up, or the… man, I just got a migraine.
UPDATE: It has since been made public by Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle that O’Brien did in fact want to cut Mallett immediately. He was, however, over ruled by GM Rick Smith.
This act by Smith — a man who has produced nothing but questionable calls in regards to the Texans and our ever-loyal fanbase — opens another can of worms. How can you bring in Bill O’Brien to toughen up this team with a no-nonsense attitude after years of the Kubiak regime, and then turn on him.
When I wrote this yesterday, things were bad in Houston. If this story is completely true, it just got a whole lot worse.
The Arian Foster situation…
Why was he in the game in a blow out with six minutes left? You hear B.O.B in the press conference? We just wanted to win the second half? Foster is done — in my opinion for his career — and this one is also on B.O.B.
Arian Foster was four weeks removed from returning from injury (anyone else think it was bizarre that Foster’s first game back they went down 42-0 and then his last game of 2015 they went down 41-0?), and is quite possibly the most injury prone RB in the game. He is also — when healthy — still the best RB in the game. Why was O’Brien risking that in a meaningless fourth quarter?
I don’t care if it was a fluke, I don’t care if it was non-contact, and I don’t care that it happened seconds before the snap… it doesn’t happen with Foster’s helmet on the floor and his butt on the bench. Remember two weeks ago when Foster left the bench while still under concussion protocol and went back in the game? Who the hell is controlling this team?
The defense situation…
Well, the NFL is quickly learning why the Texans were so good, and they have taken him out of the game.
For the better part of three seasons, I have been telling my friends that Kareem Jackson is the worst DB in the league. I was ecstatic when they addressed the issue by drafting Kevin Johnson, who in time, I feel will be solid. But he isn’t yet.
This secondary is awful. They can’t cover anyone and even worse, they can’t tackle when they get beat. And when J.J. is getting triple teamed they are done.
The issue is another former Patriot, Vince Wilfork (interesting coincidence, isn’t it? Mike Vrabel, Romeo Crennel and B.O.B on the sidelines, hmmmmm?). I love Wilfork, I always have, even when he was a Pat. I loved him on Hard Knocks as a personality. But 34-year old Wilfork is not the same guy Pats fan enamored.
Matt Weston of Battle Red Blog took a lot of time to break down the Texans defensive woes. If you have the time to read it, please do, but let me summarize what I feel is one of the key components. Last season, the Texans threw out a ragtag combo at Nose Tackle who had one primary job — to take out two defenders and let J.J. do his thing. Wilfork has not been able to do so, which allows running backs to break into that second level (where they can’t be tackled… Lamar Miller is still running actually) and J.J. to have two or three guys on him. Wilfork needs to step up and be that dominating force, not so much on the stat sheet, but in the middle of the gap. When teams go nickel and dime, Wilfork leaves the game, and that makes it that much easier to take J.J. out of the game and teams to punish that underwhelming Texans D.
What to do?
A lot of people are calling for B.O.B’s job, more seem to be calling for Rick Smith’s job (which is hilarious, because I am pretty sure he signed a lifetime contract after years of bad decisions), but here’s the thing:
The Texans have been blown out twice now, down more than 40 points in a four week span… and they are one game out of first place. They aren’t even in last place! That’s how bad the AFC South has become.
So while logically and rationally, it may seem like B.O.B has lost control and the players on this team, the front office is in no rush to dismiss him because with a big game looming with Tennessee this weekend, the Texans could wind up a top the division. Unbelievable, right? Well, let’s hang another!