Another year another round of "It's on me" from the Houston Texans football coach explaining away a bad loss.
It's not just that the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13 in 2016) came into NRG Stadium and beat the dog mess out of them, or that the offense looked pathetic and the defense laid an egg, or even that Bill O'Brien panicked mid-game and changed quarterbacks (again) as he desperately looked for something to ignite a moribund offense, it's all of those things and the fact that, gushing media pre-season coverage notwithstanding, the Texans roster is just not very talented.
The worst unit, by far, is the offensive line. It's staffed by low-level free agent signings, some League cast-offs and street free agent signings of players who were cut by other teams for a reason. That reason being they're just not very good. The highlight of the game for the O-line was C Nick Martin, and the best that can be said about him is that he was "solid".
Next come the TE's, a unit that Bill O'Brien's offense relies on, but in which there is not one player who would be a starter for almost any team in the rest of the league. Even more unfortunate is the fact that all three TE's are currently in concussion protocol with a game fast approaching on Sunday.
WR had Hopkins, and not much else on Sunday, and it's unclear whether a returning Will Fuller IV is going to do all that much to help a unit who struggles to run clean routes, gain any meaningful separation and actually catch the ball on a consistent basis.
At RB your best current option, rookie D'Onta Freeman, is currently listed as 4th string, while journeyman Lamar Miller (who has had exactly one really good game in his career, against the Texans FWIW) and Alfred Blue languish ahead of him.
On defense things aren't much better.
On the Defensive Line you have JJ Watt, who is coming back from back surgery and who played injured while racking up one (1) tackle all game, while NT DJ Reader had a horrible game and opposite side DE Joel Heath was a non-entity.
The LB corps is good on the outside (JD Clowney and Whitney Mercilus) but incredibly weak on the inside with aging, injury prone Brian Cushing (concussion protocol) and living statue Benardrick McKinney coming up JUST short play after play.
On a bright note: the defensive backfield is competent.
How did it get so bad, so fast you ask? I would suggest that a lion's share of the blame should be shouldered by GM Rick Smith, who has done a terrible job drafting players in any round other than round 1 (and possibly 7) of the NFL draft. He's especially horrid during round's 2, 3 & 4, where rosters are filled and lineups solidified. The Texans are seeing the fruits of this now, as the team has entire chunks of roster filled with guys who should be planning for life after football.
Then there's the sobering reality that Bill O'Brien is not a very good coach. He's certainly not an "offensive guru" or a "quarterback whisperer" as advertised, Tom Brady can make almost anyone look competent, and he's in desperately over his head at the NFL level.
ALL THAT SAID
It's just one game. And one game, even a pathetic game, does not a season make. I would argue that it's more likely the Texans will go 6-10 than 10-6, but there are still 15 games left to play, the first on Thursday, and the Texans are likely staring down the barrel of playing that game with no currently active TE's eligible to play and missing Brian Cushing due to concussions.
If I'm wrong, and if O'Brien IS a quality coach, he's got his work cut out this weekend. If I'm right however, this team could spiral to 2-14 and it could all be over but the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
One thing is for sure, it's on the Texans fan to step up and NOT support football at this level. If the Texans lose to Cincinnati the next home game should find the Texans playing in front of a 1/4 full NRG, fans should stay home, tune out, and send a message to McNair that mediocre is not acceptable. Because as long as McNair sees a full NRG (and continues to rake in money) his real goal of ownership will be attained. This man pays lip-service to winning championships but that's about it.
If the Texans win in Cincy, then fans give them a second chance.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice?
Shame on us.