TEXANS 13, JAGUARS 12

Texans use familiar formula from last season: Win ugly

Michele Watson/Houstontexans.com

Like many of the Texans wins last season, this one wasn't pretty. But it was a win. The Texans grinded out a 13-12 victory over Jacksonville to go to 1-1 on the season. The Jags did as much to lose it as the Texans did to win it.

It would be easy to be critical of the performance, but considering they were coming off an emotional opener and a short week, some rust was expected. Just maybe not this much. A look at some of the positives and negatives:

Offense

The positives: They ran the ball very effectively, especially with Carlos Hyde. He rushed 20 times for 90 yards and averaged 4.5 per carry. Despite giving up four sacks (hey, at least it was down from six last week) the Texans offensive line looked better. Rodrick Johnson started at right tackle and looked like an upgrade over Seantrell Henderson. Rookie Titus Howard started at left guard with mixed results including a bad penalty on a third down play that might have iced the game.

The negatives: Deshaun Watson was inaccurate for much of the game, and clearly was not at his best. He finished 17 of 30 for just 173 yards. He did not turn the ball over and rushed for a touchdown, but only got six yards on the ground. Still, they did not pass the ball very effectively, even with the Jags missing corner A.J. Bouye. Watson has historically struggled against Jacksonville and Sunday was no different. To be fair, the Jags secondary did a hell of a job on the Texans WRs.

DEFENSE

The positives: This unit looked much better than on Monday night, but then they were facing Gardner Minshew, not Drew Brees. The Jags helped with untimely penalties and missed passes, but the Texans still managed four sacks, forced a key fumble that led to the Texans touchdown, and limited Leonard Fournette for much of the game, including stopping him on the final two-point play. Whitney Mercilus had two sacks and forced the key fumble that decided the game.

The negatives: The Texans defense was terrific all day until it mattered. They let a rookie QB drive down the field for a touchdown. Rather than go for the tie, the Jags went for two and the win, and the Texans managed to stop Fournette again. The Jags are the kind of team Romeo Crennel defenses feast against. They play back and wait for teams to make mistakes. Brees does not make a lot of mistakes. A rookie QB is a different story. Minshew was not awful, going 23 of 33 for 213 yards with no interceptions, and he also rushed for 56 yards and almost led his team all the way back. But they came up just short. Props to Doug Marrone for going for the win. Meanwhile, J.J. Watt continues to struggle, with just two tackles. The corners were better until the fourth quarter, but the Jags receivers will never be confused for the Saints.

COACHING

The positives: With 11:35 left in the game and the Texans up 6-3, Bill O'Brien gambled on a fourth and one from the 2 yard line. It paid off when Deshaun Watson scored a touchdown to give them a 10-point lead. It was a good decision that turned into a good outcome. We rip O'Brien a lot for his decisions, but this was a good one. However...

The negatives: One of the consistently frustrating traits of the O'Brien era has been his terrible clock management at the end of the half and end of games. It was on display once again against the Jags at the end of the first half.

The Texans converted a third-and-11 coming out of the two-minute warning. It was 34 seconds before they got another play off, even with three timeouts. They let more time run off after another conversion, and wound up having to kick a field goal with two seconds left for a 6-3 lead. Better clock management could have led to a touchdown. They went to the half with two timeouts in their pocket. We have seen this act so many times from O'Brien, it's hard to expect anything else. It's just dumb football, but it is Year 6 of O'Brien, so at this point, it is part of his DNA.

It almost proved costly at the end of the game.

As usual, in the postgame, O'Brien refused to admit he did anything wrong. When asked if they should have taken a time out, he responded with his usual know-it-all bluster.

First he was asked if they had to kick the field goal because they ran out of time.

"No no no. I think that was strategy the whole drive."

The follow up: The strategy on the drive was to kick a field goal?

His answer: "No it was to score a touchdown. Felt like we were in good shape there to score a touchdown then there at the end we didn't get the touchdown so I decided with two seconds left to kick a field goal. Could've gone for there and decided to kick the field goal."

Finally he was asked if he should have taken a timeout earlier.

"No. We had two plays there and just took a little time getting lined up on the two plays but no we don't...I think you're talking about Hopkins' catch and then after that you know we could have taken a timeout but we had two plays. Took a little longer to get lined up than we thought and we'll work on that this week."

You have had six years to work on this, Billy.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Pretty? No. Effective? Yes. You would like to see the Texans actually go out and take a game like this as opposed to having the opponent fail on a two-point try. Things like this were a staple of many of their wins last season. The Texans will need to be much better next week against the Chargers, but at least they escaped with a win. It's weird; they looked much better in a loss to the Saints than they did a win over Jacksonville, but that's football.

Especially Texans football.

Getty Images

Sunday's loss to the Broncos was a complete embarrassment. During the Bill O'Brien era, there have been no shortage of losses like this. Narrowing it down to five was not easy. Let's take a look back at the Hall of Shame:

No. 5: Ravens 41, Texans 7, Nov. 17, 2019

The Texans went into Baltimore on a nice roll, hoping to get a huge win and get themselves in position for a first-round bye. From the first possession, when Deshaun Watson had a terrible turnover, the Texans looked like a bad high school team. They had no answer on defense for Lamar Jackson, and the offense was unable to do anything. The Ravens are the best team in the AFC, so the shame level on this one is not as bad, but the effort (or lack thereof) in such a big game makes this one an easy addition to the list.

The next week: The Texans bounced back and beat the Colts in a Thursday night game 20-17.

No. 4: Falcons 48, Texans 21, Oct. 4, 2015

This game was an embarrassment from the beginning. As in many of these losses, they gave up a touchdown on offense early, were down 28-0 at the half and 42-0 at one point before adding some pointless garbage time points, another common theme in the losses. For O'Brien, it proved his team "didn't quit." In real life, it was a complete dismantling and the late scores were meaningless stat padders.

The next week: The dropped a 27-20 home game against the Colts.

No. 3: Dolphins 44, Texans 26, Oct. 25, 2015

Another where you can ignore the final score. The Texans were down 41-0 at one point and were dominated by Lamar Miller. The worst part? In his quest to make the score look better, O'Brien left Arian Foster in the game late, and he suffered a season ending injury. It was a dumb move to mask how unprepared the Texans were. In all of these games, the Texans were not ready, got in huge early holes, had poor game plans, and looked like they did not belong on the field. This was one of the worst.

The next week: They beat the Titans and reeled off four straight wins.

No. 2: Broncos 38, Texans 24, Dec. 8, 2019

The Texans were down 31-3 at halftime and never had any chance. They added 21 garbage time points to make the score look better, but make no mistake, this was a complete dismantling. As in all the other games, they were clueless on both sides of the ball and looked completely overmatched by a team that was 4-8 coming in and was starting a rookie QB. For a team that had high aspirations, the loss was a complete joke and was the kind of game that makes you question whether or not they can even make the playoffs. Leaving Deshaun Watson in to make the score look better was typical O'Brien and completely ridiculous.

The next week: They play at Tennessee in a game that could knock them out of the division lead.

No. 1: Chiefs 30, Texans 0, Jan. 9, 2016

Hopes were high as the Texans had a home playoff game. The hopes ended on the opening kickoff as the Chiefs returned the initial kickoff for a touchdown. Quarterback Brian Hoyer threw four picks, and who can forget the brilliant idea to have J.J. Watt run the wildcat? The thing that stands out about this game and the Baltimore loss? No empty points at the end to make it look better. In fact, no points at all.

The next week: There wasn't one. They were ousted from the playoffs.

The common thread

In every case, the Texans entered with a bad game plan, got in massive holes, and never had any chance, and O'Brien had no answers. Good teams play bad games all the time, but how often do they look completely unprepared and never have an opportunity? In every one of these games, you knew they were beaten by the second quarter. O'Brien has too many of these clueless efforts on his resume. Will they bounce back next week? History says yes, but after Sunday, do you have any faith in that?

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