Chiefs 34, Texans 20

5 observations from the Chiefs win over the Texans

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Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same

- Rush, Circumstances

The Texans opened their season in the same place it ended last year on Thursday night, facing the Kansas City Chiefs. The outcome was the same. The defense could not stop the Chiefs, the offense could not sustain enough production to be competitive, and the end result was another loss against a team that is better than the Texans.

Yes, there is a lot of season to play, and the Texans could very well end up improving. That often happens. They also faced the best team in football. They did not need to win to show this could be a good season. But it would have nice if they had competed. Five observations from the 34-20 loss:

1) The defense is going to be a problem again. They were terrible last season, and unless there is some magical cure we haven't seen, this is going to be a serious issue in 2020. Yes, the Chiefs do this to everybody. In the first three quarters, the Texans had TWO stops. That is not going to get it done. The run defense was porous, they got almost no pressure on Patrick Mahomes, and there were blown coverages throughout. A lot of that can be fixed, and won't be issues against lesser teams. But if the Texans really want to contend, it won't work against the better teams.

2) Money not well spent. Zach Cunningham, fresh off his big contract, was a disaster. Bernardrick McKinney was almost invisible. Whitney Mercilus? Completely invisible. J.J. Watt was barely a factor as well. That group is paid to produce. They had some tackles, but no impact plays and Cunningham blew coverages, had penalties and looked like a rookie. These are the players you are paying to have a positive impact. They did not.

3) Some glimpses on offense. The offense did not spend a lot of time on the field. They had to be perfect against the Chiefs, and they were far from it. The positives? David Johnson looked OK, with 77 rushing yards and 109 total yards. The receivers were OK. Deshaun Watson was OK. His interception was classic Watson just throwing under pressure and hoping for good luck. He has to be better than that. But otherwise he was OK. But OK won't beat the Chiefs. This will be good enough against the Jags. Not the AFC elite.

4) A problem on the OL. This unit was supposed to be a strength. But Zack Fulton and Titus Howard were picked on all night. If this group is bad, the team has no chance. They have to be better. Four sacks, and all were on the OL.

5) And...O'Brien. The play calls were not bad, but the execution wasn't there. In the RonaVerse, that was to be expected. The only real beef was right before the half when it was fourth and 10, and O'Brien chose a long field goal try, which was missed. No one would have faulted going for it. For once, though, this loss was not on O'Brien. His team just did not play well enough.

The Texans simply did not have enough to stop KC, and the offense wasn't sharp enough to keep up. The score looked bad, but there were some positives. David Johnson looked pretty good at times, but the team never had a chance to use him properly once they got behind. The Texans aren't as bad as they looked Thursday night. But you would have liked to have seem them compete. They didn't.

The rookie coordinators did not distinguish themselves. Maybe that part is on O'Brien for hiring them. The Texans will be OK against the rest of the AFC, But the gap between them and the champs is just as big as it was when they last met. There is time to close that gap. But we saw little in the opener to indicate that will happen.

The more things change...

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How about the Texans land Sean Payton and keep their 1st round picks this year? Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images.

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton caught the attention of a lot of Houston Texans fans on Monday with comments he made on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

Payton said he is absolutely considering the Texans’ gig citing the team’s draft capital, the AFC South and casual relationships with owner Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio as reasons for it, which cast a different light on the Houston job.

Whether Payton and the Texans ultimately wind up together, only time will tell, but if both sides were to agree that they are the right fit for each other, what would it take to land Payton in Houston?

Payton’s situation is a bit unique in that the Saints still hold his contractual rights because he signed a five-year extension with the team in 2019 before he retired in 2022. In order for the Texans, or any other team, to land Payton, they will likely have to give up a significant draft choice. Payton alluded to it during his conversation on The Herd.

New Orleans is likely looking for a mid-to-late first-round pick. A hefty price to pay in the NFL, but is there a way for the Texans to get a trade to work if they were to become convinced he is the right man for the job?

Like Payton said, Houston has put itself in a position where it owns a lot of draft picks, and a good portion of them come from the Cleveland Browns courtesy of the Deshaun Watson deal.

For 2023, the Texans have two first-round picks — the No. 2 overall pick and No. 12 from Cleveland. In 2024, Houston has two first-round picks as well, its own and that of the Cleveland Browns.

Looking at other teams across the league that are also reportedly interested in Payton, the Texans clearly have the edge over them. The Denver Broncos have only one first-round draft pick in this year’s draft, and it comes from the San Francisco 49ers, meaning it will be a late draft pick.

The Arizona Cardinals have the third overall pick in 2023. It's their only first-round draft pick this season. It would not make sense for them to part ways with that pick. The Carolina Panthers have the ninth overall pick in the 2023 draft. Similar to Arizona, it's their only pick in the first round and it would not make sense for them to part ways with it for Payton.

The Los Angeles Chargers are an intriguing team following the collapse in the Wild Card round last weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

LA has the 21st overall pick in the 2023 draft. With Justin Herbert and various weapons across both sides of the ball, the Chargers are one team that could afford to trade its first-round pick in exchange for a head coach that could take them over the top. At the moment, it does seem like Brandon Staley will stay for at least one more season.

Lastly, come the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Mike McCarthy’s seat cooled off tremendously following the team’s stellar performance against Tampa Bay in the Wild Card, but an abysmal performance against San Francisco this weekend could heat it up in a heartbeat.

The Cowboys will have a late first-round draft pick regardless of how they perform against the 49ers. No price will be too big to pay for Jerry Jones if he believes Payton is the final piece to a championship puzzle.

When it comes down to the Texans, outside of the Chargers and Cowboys, whom both appear to be long shots for Payton, there is no incentive to trade a first-round pick this year for Payton if both sides agree to work together.

For a team that has holes across various positions, trading away the No. 12 pick is not a wise move, even if it does land the most qualified candidate on the market. Houston could offer next year’s Cleveland first-round pick, which with a full year of Watson will likely be a later first-round pick.

Could adding a fourth-round pick this season on top of next year’s first be enough for the Saints? The thing about this scenario, which favors the Texans, is that in the event both sides agree they are the right fit for each other, there is not really much leverage New Orleans can use to increase the price.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis wouldn’t send Payton, the 15-year leader of the organization, to a team he does not want to coach for just because they are offering a greater draft pick, or a first-round selection this year.

At the end of the day, it comes down to Payton and what he wants. If Houston is his landing spot, then there is a good chance the Texans could get him for a lesser price than this year’s 12th overall pick.

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