There are lies, damned lies, and this

The stadium was practically empty on Sunday. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

You know the Houston Texans are a toxic fume-spitting dumpster fire when they lose 31-0 to divisional rival Indianapolis at home, their second blowout shutout this season, they’re eliminated from playoff contention, starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor can't move the ball past midfield, the passing attack was non-existent, the running game even worse … and the final score was only the second most embarrassing thing that happened at NRG Stadium last Sunday.

The official reported attendance was, get ready … 65,291 fans. That’s damn near a sell-out. The place must have been roaring whenever Taylor or second stringer Davis Mills completed a pass or, more realistically speaking, avoided a sack or didn’t throw an interception.

Photo by Ken Hoffman

Seriously … 65,291? You've got eyes, right? The stadium was practically empty, whole sections had barely a handful of very socially distanced fans, quieter than a library except for frustrated booing at the Texans incompetence.

Fans had plenty to jeer about. The Texans are last in passing offense and rushing offense. Coach David Culley talks about the need to score touchdowns not field goals, but the team has scored fewer than six points in four games.

You can run down every analytic and the bottom line is still the same. Simply the Texans are a horribly mismanaged, out-couched, outplayed, undisciplined, unsupported NFL franchise, their 2-10 record is the worst in team history after a dozen games. Everything is pointing in the wrong direction. But don't dare to think this is rock bottom. There's more to come.

So why are 65,291 fans still coming to games? Of course they’re not. The NFL calculates attendance by the number of tickets sold, including the season tickets bought before the season started. The Sunday attendance figure doesn’t take into account tickets resold on the secondary market, comps and more than anything else, tens of thousands of no-shows. Ticket scalpers along Kirby Drive can only muster a forlorn, “Need two?” Tickets were available on the Internet for as low as $6 last Sunday.

Until recently, when team president Jamey Rootes ran the show, the Texans boasted the best tailgating in the NFL. Parking lots smelled like bratwurst. They actually do give awards for pre-game pigouts and the Texans were the gold standard. Now? The parking lots look abandoned, like a shopping mall after closing hour. Fans can leave the game with 5 minutes left and be home to watch the opposing quarterback kneel away the final few seconds.

The Texans claim of 65,299 fans is more laughable than the Thanksgiving Day Parade insanely insisting that 300,000 spectators line 20 blocks of downtown Houston to cheer on floats featuring a TV weatherman.

My guess for the real attendance last Sunday at NRG Stadium – 21,000 to watch a stinker of an effort by the Texans. Let’s see how many show up this Sunday when the Texans host the 4-8 Seattle Seahawks. It could get lonely.

All of these Texans losses couldn’t happen at a worse time for the team’s image. The photo of the day was a fan holding a sign pleading with owner Cal McNair to sell the team.

Houston is supposed to be a football-crazy town, and fans clearly have given up on the Texans. Meanwhile the Astros have fashioned a mini-dynasty with deep playoff runs, and the left-for-dead Rockets suddenly have shown a pulse with six consecutive wins.

Meanwhile, the Texans are a statistical and artistic flop, absent of star power, faced with a dwindling and disgusted fan base and empty seats.

It actually could be more embarrassing for the Texans. From 1973 to 2014 the NFL imposed a blackout rule: if a team failed to sell at least 85 percent of tickets 72 hours before kickoff, the game would be blacked out on local TV. If that rule were still in effect, and the NFL counted butts in seats and not tickets sold, Houstonians would be watching Dyson vacuum cleaner infomercials on Channel 11 Sunday afternoons.

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Running back Dameon Pierce is getting some help. Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans have made several moves in free agency that are beginning to focus in on the vision they are trying to create on offense.

Houston has signed veterans including Robert Woods, Jimmie Ward, Dalton Schultz, Devin Singletary and Case Keenum so far. One of the first things head coach DeMeco Ryans said was his goal for the entire team is to be an attack-first, aggressive program, and that includes on offense.

The signings of Woods, Schultz, fullback Andrew Beck and running backs Singletary and Mike Boone are early indicators aligning with Ryans’ philosophy. In order to be aggressive on offense, Houston needs to have a strong offensive line, but it also has to have great blockers and assertive runners all over the field.

Woods and Schultz have proven with their previous teams they are more than capable of being above-average blockers. Texans fans have first-hand experience with Singletary and his running style, and they already have Dameon Pierce, who has proven he is more than capable of being a punisher out of the backfield.

With the signing of Beck, it also adds an extra layer of versatility for Houston. The San Francisco, Shanahan style is predicated on making every play — whether it be a run or a pass — look as similar as possible.

The 49ers utilized fullback Kyle Juszczyk as a lead blocker, an occasional runner and even as a pass-game threat in the red zone. Beck could be utilized in a similar capacity.

The same can be said for Schultz, who’s caught 57 or more passes in the past three seasons. Woods outside of the trenches is a good lead blocker on potential outside runs too.

With an influx of rookies set to join after the NFL Draft, general manager Nick Caserio is positioning the team to have a great balance between veterans and first-year players. An example is with Keenum, who fits right with Ryans’ aggressive mindset.

It is expected Houston will take a quarterback with its No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Keenum is an experienced veteran that has played every role as a quarterback — from backup to starter. Woods replaces Brandin Cooks as a veteran to lead the receivers room, and Singletary is another key presence with the running backs.

With the mix of age, experience and different roles from the players Houston has signed so far, it is another remark from Ryans’ introductory news conference coming true. Which was to add diversity, in terms of different NFL backgrounds on the team in all different kinds of ways, to the Texans.

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