What in the World Is Wrong with the Houston Texans?
When fans cheered Matt Schaub's injury, the story was told. The most important parts of that story, though, were T.J. Yates' unconvincing performance and, of course, the performance of a defense that had been the team's one strong point all season.
Things don't get any easier from here, unfortunately.
The 6-0 Kansas City Chiefs are now a week away. With ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli reporting that Schaub is nursing an ankle injury, the offense is probably going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
So, what in the world is wrong with the Texans?
A lot, and after an uninspired performance on Sunday, it'll take more than just a simple quarterback fix to get Gary Kubiak's season back on track.
The end of the game left a lot of the blame on Schaub. Some will blame him for getting injured and others will blame him for not getting the team into the end zone earlier.
Either way, he's still the scapegoat.
A portion of that criticism is fair—especially since the Texans had their chance to get back into the game right before halftime only to see Schaub fail to connect with DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone. Still, not everything can be pinned on the most hated guy in Houston right now.
The three biggest things that have cost the Texans both points and wins are penalties, third downs and turnovers.
It's hard to win a football game when Hopkins fumbles close to the red zone, and it's even harder when Arian Foster breaks off a huge chunk of yards only to see Duane Brown called for holding on the next play.
Perhaps the penalties wouldn't matter so much if the Texans were a solid third-down team, but they're not. The Texans converted less than 50 percent of their third-down opportunities for the third consecutive game on Sunday.
Penalties come down to discipline, and at times it's the more experienced guys like Kareem Jackson giving up yards. Turnovers can't be avoided entirely, but on Sunday, it was three young guys (Yates, Hopkins and Keyshawn Martin) that showed their youth.
Failing on third down, however, falls back on the quarterback and the coach.
Even without Owen Daniels, this is still one of the most talented teams in the league. Kubiak not knowing what to do with his players has undone the entire offense.
Example No. 1 was on Yates' first opportunity after Schaub left the field.
The Rams gifted the Texans a second chance on 4th-and-short, and after three quick plays, Kubiak drew up the same old tight end play that St. Louis saw coming from a mile away.
Yates showed no ability to look the safety off and a 98-yard pick-six was the end result.
It's probably a tough situation for Kubiak, since the quarterbacks are struggling psychologically. When neither can run the ball and Andre Johnson is sent on simple crossing routes that are easy to cover, it's even harder to move the chains.
Sixteen possessions in the red zone and 13 touchdowns allowed. The Texans are dead last in the NFL in red-zone defense, which can be attributed to Wade Phillips' man coverage.
As predictably stale as the offense is, the defense isn't much better. It's not hard to mix it up against the Texans early in a drive, and Sam Bradford found that out the easy way when running back Zac Stacy kept the ball moving while the signal-caller took chances on longer pass attempts.
Guys like Ed Reed have yet to step up and make that sudden impact in a game when it counts. Darryl Sharpton was also embarrassed by Stacy one-on-one up the middle.
When neither J.J. Watt nor Brian Cushing can record a single sack on a team that has conceded 13 so far this season, the problem is pretty serious.
In a postgame interview with Ganguli, Cushing admitted that the situation is dire. If only the rest of the defense could promise to do better.
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