Some important takeaways from the Texans final game of the season

Another heartbreaking loss for Houston. Photo by Getty Images.

Division games are always tough. No matter the records or what's on the line, division games rarely seem to disappoint, especially when it comes down to the end of the season. In this case, we had the Titans fighting for playoff positioning, while the Texans were playing for pride. Turns out, the Titans' playoff positioning and winning the AFC South meant a bit more to them than the Texans' pride meant to them as the Titans pulled out a 41-38 win on a last second field goal that banged in off the upright.

The brightest spot in this mess is clearly Deshaun Watson. He was 28/39 for 365 yards and three touchdowns. The lone interception he threw wasn't all his fault. Watson ended this season with 4,823 yards passing that led the league. He also threw a team record 33 touchdown passes. All those numbers without a true number one receiver, no run game, okay at best offensive line, and a terrible defense. Imagine what he could do if he had improvements in those areas? Some will say he's putting up gaudy numbers on a bad team that was often behind. There is some merit to that, but this kid is special. I believe he could do this, and it could translate into wins if he had improvements in the areas I just listed.

If Anthony Weaver (and to a lesser extent Romeo Crennel) still has a job when you're reading this, The McNairs should sell the team. They gave up 288 yards rushing to the Titans. I understand they're going against Derrick Henry who's arguably the best running back in the league, but dammit man! This defense is nowhere near as talented as other defenses are, so I don't expect greatness. What I do expect are much better performances than the ones this defense has been giving.

For example, setting the edge against the run does not take an All-Pro at defensive end or linebacker or defensive back. It takes discipline. Twice on the Titans' last touchdown drive, J.J. Watt crashed hard down the line and went after Derrick Henry, only for Ryan Tannehill to keep it. One brought the ball to the 1-yard line, the other put the Titans up 38-35. I'm not saying it was his fault, because the keeper certainly could've been someone else's responsibility. Whoever it was, they failed.

Another key failure was the long pass to put the Titans in field goal range to end the game. It appeared as if they were in a cover 2 man and the safety on the right side of the field failed to stay over the top. That, or cover 1 and the single high safety blew it. Either way, they should've been in a cover 4 to blanket the field in four quadrants deep and give them anything they wanted underneath and in front. With 18 seconds left, nothing should beat you...except doing what the Texans' did.

This team has a lot of holes to fill, and not nearly enough materials to fill said holes with. The head coach and general manager search and hire should turn up a notch now that the regular season is over. Black Monday is upon us. So is interview season. I feel bad that this fan base only has the hirings of a new coach and GM as the high point of the upcoming offseason. Here's to hoping they make the right hires in both cases to get this franchise turned around.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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