ONE LAST SETBACK

Texans wrap up season with 22-13 loss in Indianapolis, finish last in AFC South with 4-12 record

Alfred Blue and the Texans could not muster any offense in the second half. Houstontexans.com

In the battle for last place in the AFC South, the Colts won 22-13 in Indianapolis; putting the Texans in the bottom of the divisional barrel. They finish a disappointing, injury plagued season 4-12.

Congratulations are in order for Frank Gore who finished the day with one hundred yards on the ground. He became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for more than 14,000 yards in a career. 

Fans knew it was going to be rough for the Texans, who were without their biggest offensive weapon DeAndre Hopkins for the first time in his career. On the first drive, they lost their second-best receiver Will Fuller with a knee injury. That left them with Braxton Miller, Chris Thompson and Cobi Hamilton as the remaining wide receivers. The primary ball carrier for the Texans was Alfred Blue who had eighteen carries against Lamar Miller's eight. 

Early on it looked good but not great for the Texans offense. Yates led them to scoring drives on their first three possessions of the game and a 13-7 halftime lead. He did it with a good balance of run and pass. He went 12 of 16 for 117 yards through the air while Blue carried the ball fourteen times for 31 yards and a touchdown. The two field goals by Ka'imi Fairbairn from 52 and 46 yards were the difference at the break.

The second half went more the way of the Colts. It started with an onside kick that Indianapolis failed to recover, but they forced a three and out to limit any damage. They responded with a touchdown by Marlon Mack for a one point lead. Their defense followed later with a safety on Tom Savage after the Texans offensive line looked confused and allowed a free rusher.

From there it was about who could get just the few more points needed to secure the victory. The Colts got a field goal from Adam Vinatieri while the Texans got shut down. Their offense got stopped time after time and they failed to score in the second half.

No one knows what will happen in the offseason, but the coach and the GM for the Texans will be on the hot seat. They finished a season that started with some promise with a terrible record. They would have had a top-five pick in the draft but those were given to the Browns who end the season with the number one overall pick as well. There is a lot to be done but a lot to look forward to in 2018 when star players return healthy. 

 

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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