Barry's View

Off the top of my bald head: Poor effort all around in Texans loss to Colts

Bill O'Brien and the Texans had no answers with Deshaun Watson out. Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

I wasted a beautiful fall afternoon inside with the roof obviously closed, watching garbage.

Thousands of Texans fans came disguised as empty seats. Either it was Astros World Series Parade hangover, or they realized what they were about to see without Deshaun Watson.

A terrible excuse for an NFL game.

These were the Colts.

The Dolts.

The team with the 31st ranked defense in the NFL.

Sure, it was tough on Coach Bill O’Brien to lose the Rookie of the Year candidate, incredibly talented, mature beyond his years Deshaun Watson, just a few days before Sunday’s game.

Tom Savage is who he is: below mediocre.  Great kid, teammate and father.  But a bad excuse for an NFL backup quarterback.  

There was not enough WD 40 to get rust off the four-year veteran. It took him a total of 136 passes over four seasons to finally throw his first touchdown pass

Savage, who started the game completing 9-of-28 passes, finished 10-of-his-last-16.

“I’m not going to give you the politically correct answer and say blah blah blah we can get better," he said. “No, I have to make the throws. I played like crap. That’s what it is…It’s probably the most frustrating game of my life."

The biggest cheer in the first half, prior to the fumble recovery for a touchdown, was for the Astros. The Texans showed a montage tribute to the champs, with George Springer on the field with the World Series Trophy. You would have thought that Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus magically returned to the game in full health with the thunderous ovation.

The Texans did not dominate either line. What was critically missing from the ground game was the 40 yards from Watson, along with the manner in which defenses schemed without his presence. This clearly puts the Texans at a huge disadvantage.

T.Y Hilton got five passes for 175 yards and the only two scores. The first he ran by Jonathan Joseph; whose best days are behind him. He then outsmarted Kareem Jackson for another and generally wrecked the game for the Texans. Cornerback Kevin Johnson said in the quiet locker room “is why we lost the game.”

Jackson, the nine-year veteran corner from Alabama, still has egg on his face with the replays being shown. Hilton took a dive to avoid being tackled on a long third-quarter catch, and then decided it was best to take his time getting up. It was a great call, because by playing possum, Texans safety Andre Hal took him for a non-threat and strolled right past him, allowing Hilton to get back up untouched and waltz into the end zone to extend the Colts’ lead.

The half empty stands at NRG could not take it anymore, heading to the exits.

You play to the whistle. That is a cardinal rule in sports.  I guess the combination of coaching from Nick Saban and O’Brien has yet to sink in.

The secondary obviously is at a disadvantage with all the injuries up front.  Regardless, basic things like tackling, taking the proper angles and not letting  Hilton look like a combination of Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin or Paul Warfield will lead to losses.

Through three quarters, Savage was 8-of-26 for 81 yards and a 40.7 rating. When the Texans got the ball at their 25 with 9:12 left after Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard field goal, Savage was a different quarterback.

It took the Texans six plays to go 75 yards, with the payoff coming on Savage's 34-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who made an outstanding catch in the end zone against double coverage. There was 6:11 remaining.

Savage was 4-of-4 for 64 yards on that possession, and he looked like a new and improved quarterback. The Steel Blue diehards awakened hoping for an early Christmas present. Were they still hungover from the Astros parade?  Where they smoking some great stuff from Colorado?  Or were those still left on NRG just delusional?

Did they forget that Savage holds onto the ball too long and reads coverages wrong? That he threw wide three times and three times into triple coverage?

With the clock ticking down, after a pair of completions, Savage let too much damn time run off the clock.

The moment was too big for Savage.  He must have majored in drama in college and studied Shakespeare: “To thine own self be true” when he stated the obvious at the post-game press conference “I played like crap.”

"Everybody's got to be faster," O'Brien said. "Get the call in as fast as we can, and we have to get lined up faster.”

The two-minute drill was horsefeathers.  Held onto the ball too long.  Should be bang bang plays.

He failed to execute.

"It starts with me and goes from there,” O’Brien said. “In that situation, you're saving that (last) timeout for a key fourth-down call.”

He is right.  It’s up to the quarterback to execute, to run the two-minute drill, regardless if you are a second stringer.

This is Football 101.

There were many chances before the final seconds for the Texans to wake up and play like pros.  Too many dumb penalties, poor tackling, and -- of course -- Savage happened.

While it appeared for the umpteenth time, the postgame remarks appeared to be yet another dose of O’Brien Coach speak 101. "I really don't want to hear any BS about clock management. I really don't want to hear it this week."

Billy O is right.  Savage proved what we all know; he is a Not Ready For Prime Time player in the NFL. He failed to spike the ball, then held on too damn long.  The ball must come out quickly.

On the final series, on second down he threw high and out of the end zone to Stephen Anderson.  Winners throw the ball low. On third down he failed to read his progressions, throwing to D-Hop on the left while Will Fuller was open after beating press coverage. Fourth down he never gave his team a chance, fumbling the ball away under pressure.

It gets worse next week as your 3-5 Texans face the 6-2 Rams in LA.

By the way, Colin Kaepernick is still a viable option.  Are you listening Bob McNair??


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Paying a kicker 17 million dollars? Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien engineered questionable moves during the off-season that already have come back to bite the Texans in the butt. Fans have yet to see the Texans on the right track, at least on television for now. Here are the top three, or bottom three, contracts that have Houston raising eyebrows, shrugging shoulders, and shaking heads.

Randall Cobb: 3 years, $27 million

The 30-year-old wide receiver has been quiet so far this 0-2 season with seven catches for 82 yards. New offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is favoring "12 and 21" schemes which render Cobb the third option behind Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks. This could change now with Fuller nursing a hamstring injury sustained against the Ravens. To be fair, with no preseason games or extended practice, Cobb has not had time to build chemistry with quarterback Deshaun Watson. So let's mark him, "bad contract," but jury still deliberating.

David Johnson: 3 years, $39 million

Johnson has carried the ball 22 times for 111 yards. Normally, these would be acceptable, even commendable stats. However, Johnson carries the burden of being involved in the trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona. BTW, Hopkins in tearing it up in Arizona with 22 receptions for 219 yards. Also, more evidence condemning Johnson's contract, the Texans could have made a run at Leonard Fournette (17 carries for 108 yards) or Adrian Peterson (21 carries for 134 yards), both chewing up more turf for less money.

Whitney Mercilus: 4 years, $54 million

Here's another 30-year-old who was being paid big and producing little. He was MIA against the Ravens with no tackles and no sacks, despite being on the field for 70 percent of the Ravens snaps. Mercilus was able to squeeze the Texans for huge money last year when he picked up the workload of injured J.J. Watt.

Honorable Mention

Ka'imi Fairbairn: 4 years, $17,650,000

Fairbairn is the third highest-paid kicker in the NFL. Fairbairn had a rough start against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, missing an extra point and a deep 51-yard field goal attempt. Meanwhile, up in Dallas, Greg 'The Leg' Zuerlein is being paid half of what Fairbairn makes, but knocking them down from the logo, including a last-second, game-winning field goal to beat the Falcons. Former Texans kicker Randy Bullock is enjoying greater success in Cincinnati for considerably fewer dollars, too. Fun fact: Fairbairn is paid more than most Texans secondary defenders.

But really, the worst, and most regrettable Texans contract of all might be Bill O'Brien's deal- 4 years, $20 million.

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