Inside View

The good, bad and ugly from the Texans 23-16 loss to the Ravens

The Texans defense deserved a better fate. Houstontexans.com

The Houston Texans came into Monday Night Football still in the AFC playoff hunt after beating the Arizona Cardinals last week. However, they came up short losing 23-16 in a game that was devoid of stellar quarterback play.

The Good

-Brennan Scarlett had himself a solid game with 4 solo tackles and 2 tackles for loss. One thing I observed was how he uses proper leverage to set the edge. He squats low and keeps his hands inside the offensive lineman’s pads. One of his tackles for loss came in the flat on a swing pass to the running back. He dropped in coverage, read the play, and made the tackle before Alex Collins could get upfield.

-DeAndre Hopkins had 7 catches on 10 targets for 125 yards. He continues to dominate opposing defenses. Perhaps most impressive, is the fact that Hopkins isn’t blessed with the height or blazing speed or quickness. He does it by running good routes and out-fighting defensive backs.

-Jadeveon Clowney is going to cost the team a ton of money to resign. Defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel lines him up all over the place and Clowney continues to produce with 2 solo tackles, a sack, 2 tackles for loss while lining up at middle linebacker, both defensive end/outside linebacker spots, as well as defensive tackle. He’s proving himself to be the second most important player on the roster.

The Bad

-Early in the 2nd quarter, Ravens punter Sam Koch threw one of the best passes of the game on a fake punt. A few plays later, they tied the game at 7.

-Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will never be mistaken for Steve Young, Randall Cunningham or Mike Vick. But he sealed the game after catching the Texans napping by faking a handoff that appeared to be going off tackle to the right side, while keeping it and rushing for 25 yards. Getting that first down after the two minute warning with the Texans fresh out of timeouts allowed them to run the clock out and seal the deal.

-Texans rookie returner Chris Thompson muffed a punt that was recovered by fellow rookie Treston Decoud. This was another special teams brain fart that could’ve been disastrous. Last week, Bruce Ellington almost had field position flipped. Special teams need to be evaluated more closely this offseason. It’s a phase of the game most coaches don’t pay enough attention to, but is constantly a deciding factor.

The Ugly

-Tom Savage turned the ball over three times. Two interceptions and a fumble lost cost the team a chance to win. Specifically his last interception. Anthony Levine Sr. dropped back in coverage on C.J. Fiedorowicz and was underneath Fiedorowicz. Savage threw the pass straight to him and Levine Sr. got an easy game-clinching pick.

-The run game was atrocious. Sure the Ravens have a good run defense. But averaging 2.6 yards per carry on 25 carries between Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue isn’t going to get you very far. Miller got one third of his 51 yards on a single play. D’Onta Foreman may not have been a starter or huge contributor, but on days like this one can’t help but wonder what he would’ve done.

The Texans took what was a winnable game on the road to help keep them in playoff contention, and turned it into a loss that will serve to boost the Cleveland Browns’ chances of not sucking as much. The sweet scent of last week’s win over the Cardinals was quickly replaced by the dumpster juice stench of yet another loss. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not “the media has a job to do” guy when I complain about Savage not staying and answering questions at the post game presser. It’s all about facing the music and being man enough to own your screw ups. Too many people nowadays skirt responsibility and/or point fingers when things don’t go their way. Last week, after a great performance during a win, he gladly stepped up to the podium. Win or lose, you should honor that commitment. This team has managed to have a roller coaster of a season on and off the field. The fact that they haven’t completely collapsed is a testament to head coach Bill O’Brien’s ability to keep them somewhat focused. For that alone, I feel like he deserves to come back next year and get an extension.

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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