11 observations from the Texans' 28-25 loss to the Titans

11 observations from the Texans' 28-25 loss to the Titans
The Texans will have the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans capped off the season coming up short against the Tennessee Titans. The comeback attempt came up short as the Texans lost 28-25. Here are 11 observations.

1. The rumors started before the game about David Culley’s job status. Culley was placed in the “OUT” category by Fox’s NFL insider Jay Glazer in the pregame show.

2. Glazer mentioned the Texans could be interested in Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as a potential head coach option.

3. David Culley was deflective and short when asked about his future as the team’s head coach. Culley said he expects to be coaching the Texans next season and when asked what case he would make to the team, Culley said he would let the team make the call on why he should be back.

4. Davis Mills played one of his worst opening halves of football. Mills was rattled and unsettled in the pocket and missed some throws he had grown into regularly making.

5. Davis Mills was much better in the second half. Mills was poised and made throws look easy. He handled the pressure better than in the first half and was in rhythm with his receivers sans an inured Brandin Cooks. It was one of the best halves of football he played all season.

6. Davis Mills said he improved on his knowledge and comfort in the offense as the season went on. It was apparent Mills was a much better quarterback after the return to the starting role. Mills believed he has done enough to be the team’s starter heading into next season.

7. Danny Amendola had his best game as a member of the Texans. It was the fifth-best yardage performance of his career and just the second time in his career he had multiple scores. He found spaces in the Titans' defense and delivered when the ball came his way.

8. Jacob Martin had Ryan Tannehill dead to rights only to see the Tennessee quarterback escape his grasp and keep the Titans’ drive alive. The Titans would score a touchdown on the drive to push their lead to 10. It was a play that would have given the Texans the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.

9. Lovie Smith’s defense performed admirably, coming up just short again. With more talent on the roster next season, there could be something there with this unit. Overall, the defense exceeded the low expectations.

10. The Texans have a multitude of impending free agents as well as a likely Deshaun Watson trade this offseason. The team is currently slated to have nine draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Their first-round selection is third overall behind the Jaguars and the Lions.

11. It is just the third time in the team’s history to have back-to-back losing seasons, the first since the 2005-2006 seasons. It is the third most losses in team history, only two 14-loss seasons are worst. The team will first have to make a decision on David Culley and then decisions on the coaching staff will come ahead of free agency in March.

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The Texans will have to shuffle the o-line once again. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images.

“Another one!”- DJ Khaled

That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.

The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.

Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!

One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.

As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.

To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.

I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.

The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.

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