11 observations from Texans' 23-10 loss to Commanders

The Texans had five net yards at halftime. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans played one of their worst games of the season. The Washington Commanders marched their way to a 23-10 victory. Here are 11 observations from the thrashing.

1. The offense was anemic in the first half. There was nothing working at all and it frequently drew boos from the crowd. It was the worst half of offense this team has played in a long time.

2. The Texans had five net yards at halftime. Per TruMedia Sports there have only been 11 instances this century of a team failing to get 10-plus yards in the first half. The Texans were the last team before today when they had negative yards last year in Buffalo against the Bills.

3. The offensive play calling is putrid. Pep Hamilton’s offense, when it is executed, is bad. There is no faith in this team to throw the ball deep, and if the rushing attack gets stuffed it is almost assuredly a punt.

4. Davis Mills threw a bad interception to start the game. Mills shouldn’t be staring down wideouts, much less Brandin Cooks. Terrible job by the future backup quarterback.

5. Kenyon Green has had a bad stretch the past few weeks. This was among his worst games. One play saw Green used to tackle Davis Mills basically as he got blown off the football. Another play saw Green quickly dispatched and his man earn the sack. Kenyon Green hit the rookie wall and then it fell on him.

6. The entire offensive line played poorly on Sunday. Thankfully this hasn’t been an every-week occurrence with the full line playing poor, but it tanked the offense. Lovie Smith said after the game the performance of the offensive line kept anything from being able to happen on offense.

7. Lovie Smith was incredulous when it came to being asked about changes on the team. Smith was adamant the team played the players they believed helped them win. It doesn’t sound like changes on offense are coming.

8. The Texans should consider making a change to the offensive staff. Pep Hamilton has been poor this year. Ben McDaniels is the wide receivers coach & passing game coordinator and the younger brother of Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. I would see if he can call an offense like his brother.

9. Jalen Pitre must catch interceptions when they hit him in the hands. The game might be totally different if the rookie safety holds on to the early opportunity. He bounced back well from a subpar performance last week.

10. The defense was fine. Nothing amazing from the defense, and the offense put them in some unfavorable spots. The defense doesn’t possess the ability to win the team games nor can it overcome this level of offense, but it was a fine performance from the unit.

11. The fans that attended the game made their presence known. NRG Stadium was maybe sixty percent full and had a good amount of Washington fans. The Texans fans were loud with boos a few times. The Commanders fans were very loud with a “defense” chant late in the game. The rest of the home games should be interesting observations in the fan base's interest in the team. Especially the next home game against the Browns with Deshaun Watson’s debut.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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