Role Reversal

The Houston Texans have become the Indianapolis Colts

If you want to see where the Texans will be next year, just look at the Indianapolis Colts.

I think we have seen enough of the Texans’ 2017 season to make some comparisons. My first thought is the Texans have become the Colts of the last several years. What do they have in common you ask? A superstar injured QB, a leaky (terrible) defense, one of the worst o-lines in the NFL, a coach that's on the hot seat, one elite playmaking wide receiver. I think you get my point. Let's break this premise down position-by-position.


We'll start with the QBs. Both teams have an injury-prone franchise QB that hasn’t been able to stay on the field. Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson have shown the ability to win at a high level throwing from the pocket, and both possess the escape-ability to buy some time to complete passes when the pocket breaks down. I would say both players will be ready for next season most likely, but a new report suggest Luck might have to undergo bicep tendon surgery (more injuries), so we’ll have to see how that plays out over the offseason. Both guys, when available, look like they can elevate a team to greatness with the right pieces around them.


Next, both the Texans and the Colts have two of the worst offensive lines in all of football, and after the injury to Nick Martin on Sunday, the Texans may legitimately need five new starters next season. To be fair, Martin should be a serviceable option if he can overcome the two ankle/leg injuries he’s suffered the last couple years. I sense a theme because Colts' center Ryan Kelly has dealt with ankle and foot problems early in his career as well.

Texans' rookie tackle Julien Davenport will have an opportunity to start next season, but he’s raw and still may not be ready even after another offseason. The Colts have addressed their line in the draft the last two seasons, but they have dealt with a ton of injuries too. The days of the Colts rolling into camp without adding any key pieces to their line are over. They've selected three offensive linemen early in the draft, two in 2016, and one in 2017. This is where the Colts have learned their lesson, but the Texans may just now understand the severity of the problem on their hands. This will be the second year the Texans have truly ignored the o-line and the results have been awful after just one season of neglect. Hopefully, they will try to improve the line through free agency, but quality tackles typically get signed to long-term deals by the teams that drafted them. Maybe they can add some talent at guard to improve the interior of the line.


Both coaches may not be around for much longer. Colts' GM Chris Ballard may be ready to find a new coach to replace Chuck Pagano, and I can’t say I blame him. I’m sure Ballard wants to get his own hire into the organization, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Bill O’Brien isn’t back with the Texans next season. O’Brien sees what a mess Rick Smith has left for him to coach, and it feels like the right time for a change. I don't think Billy O will quit, but I do believe his days are coming to an end in Houston. If I was O'Brien, I would be looking at the Colts as an upgrade over the Texans' front office. I bet it would feel pretty good for O'Brien to stick it to Rick Smith twice a year as the Colts' new head coach. I hope O'Brien stays with the Texans, but I think he'll leave after next year if not sooner.


The Colts and the Texans have one elite wide receiver each, and not a lot else in the passing game. Hopkins and Hilton are dominant number one receivers, especially when they have their QBs available to them. Will Fuller could end up being a nice player, but so far he has been injured multiple times, and the same can be said for Colts WR Donte Moncrief.  Finally, I know Hopkins is clearly outplaying T.Y. Hilton this year, but Hilton can be the most dangerous deep threat in the league when he has someone that can get him the ball.


Previous Texans teams could always count on the defense, but that’s definitely not the case anymore. The Texans are dead last in overall team defense according to, and the Colts are second to last. If you watch the Texans every week, you can’t be surprised by their rank on defense, but how are you going to rebuild the secondary and the offensive line without any top draft picks? You’re not, and you can only do so much in free agency. The secondary needs a complete overhaul. Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson can’t be your starters at corner anymore, and Kevin Johnson is looking more like a bust after every game.  The Colts need an infusion of talent in the secondary just as much as the Texans. They took safety Malik Hooker in the first round, but he tore his ACL and is no lock to be ready when the season starts.

Houston's lack of depth on defense is catching up with them. This is why their special teams are so bad; anybody decent has to play on defense regularly. 

The Jags are now the Texans of old

We can also point to the Colts' and Texans’ running games being extremely average as well, but the one thing that should concern Texans fans the most is the juggernaut the Jacksonville Jaguars have built. While the roster has been run into the ground in Houston, the Jaguars have become what the Texans used to be every year, a great defense with a strong running game. For years, Texans fans have been waiting to acquire a franchise QB to lead them deep into the playoffs, but it looks like their old formula of defense and a strong running game might be what does the trick. The only problem is, it’s working for the Jaguars, not the Texans. We’ll see how the Jags perform in the playoffs, but a good defense and a strong running game usually does very well in the months of January and February. It took a few years for all of this talent to develop in Jacksonville, but the Jags went from worst to first which should give Texans fans some hope. But a few more terrible drafts and that won't be the case. This should be a wake-up call for Rick Smith. The team and the roster are both clearly backsliding. 

Plenty of bad but recently some great on the short week game for Texans

Throwback Thursdays: Texans history is so so in Thursday games

Tim Warner/Getty Images

This is a list and a few thoughts from the five Thursday Night Football games where Bill O'Brien has been the head coach for the Texans.

2014: The almost comeback for the ages - Texans lose 33-28

This game sucked early, but then almost sucked a lot less. It still sucked in the end but it had one of J.J. Watt's best plays of his career.

The Colts jumped out to an early lead thanks to a Pat McAfee onside kick and a huge T.Y. Hilton play from Andrew Luck. It was one of the signature Hilton games in his time against the Texans. The Colts would lead 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Arian Foster along with some stellar defense would get the Texans back in the game but it wasn't enough.

This was the first Thursday game under Bill O'Brien and would be right in the middle of a three game losing streak coming off a bad overtime loss to the Cowboys and ahead of a Monday disaster against the Steelers.

2015: Sick Hasselbeck makes Texans fans sicker - Texans lose 27-20

I always describe this game as the one where Matt Hasselbeck was crapping his pants on the sidelines and still beat the Texans. I am not too wrong about this. He was so sick he didn't practice and yet still had enough for the Colts to beat the Texans. He was also 40 years old too by the way.

This one hurt as it was Andre Johnson's return to Houston but he was wearing a Colts uniform. He scored the opening touchdown and it was pretty much the only good game he had for the Colts that season. He also scored what would be the deciding touchdown in this one.

It also marked one of the quarterback indecision moments of Bill O'Brien's tenure. Ryan Mallett took a big hit and asked out of the game and Brian Hoyer returned to the game and played pretty well. He completed a long pass as time expired to Jaelen Strong (remember that name!?) to get the Texans their first touchdown. Trialing by seven Hoyer threw an interception in Colts territory ending the Texans comeback attempt.

2016: Brissett blows out Brock - Texans lose 27-0

This is one of the worst losses of the Bill O'Brien era. The Patriots were down to their third-string quarterback in the midst of a Tom Brady suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo's injury. Enter Jacoby Brissett and the best coach of all-time to torture Brock Osweiler and the Texans. Oh, by the way, Gronk was hurt too I think.

A field goal by New England put the first points on the board and the Texans fumbled the ensuing kickoff which then moments later saw Brissett take a rush 27 yards to the house. The Texans wouldn't get on the Patriots side of the field until there was a couple of minutes left in the third quarter and they were down 20-0.

We should have all known Osweiler stunk when he couldn't score in this game, but it took me a few more weeks before I really jumped off the Brock train.

2017: The first one for the chosen one - Texans win 13-9

Tom Savage was benched and Deshaun Watson's era began. A short week after sitting behind Savage in training camp and then getting thrown to the Jaguars defense in the second half of week one didn't matter to Watson. It was the start of his coming out party.

The defense kicked ass in this game helping Watson get the first win. The big run above was the moment many of us will never forget when it comes to this Thursday night affair.

2018: Welcome Back Brock - Texans win 42-23

Ah yes, the Brock Osweiler revenge game! The Texans had won four straight after a dreadful start to the season and were coming off a physical game with Jacksonville. This was Brock Osweiler's chance for revenge on the team that jettisoned him after the 2016 season.

There would be little revenge. Credit the Dolphins, they kept the game fairly close until Deshaun Watson started cooking in the second half. Four touchdowns in the second half was quite the efficient showing on just 10 pass attempts.

It was a fun Thursday night contest especially given the Texans history on the short week under O'Brien.

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