Texans vs. Jaguars: Takeaways from Houston's 27-20 Loss Against Jacksonville
Swept by the Jacksonville Jaguars and now 2-11 on the year.
At least things aren't going to get any worse.
Thursday Night Football games have been a snore all year long. With two of the league's worst teams facing each other on prime time, you'd expect the very same—but this week's game was worth watching.
But boy were the Texans bad. It was another week of Gary Kubiak pulling Case Keenum for Matt Schaub, a game-ending interception and the same old problems we have to hear about each week from a team that continues to let its fans down.
It's another embarrassing loss to a Jaguars team that has won four of its last five. So once again, here's some takeaways from another forgettable game.
You Can't Win with That Many Penalties
The Texans looked like a poorly coached pee-wee football team in the first half.
They had 10 penalties by the end of the second quarter and a handful of drives that went nowhere because of it. Tally all of those yellow flags up and the Texans sacrificed 100 yards to the Jaguars and things didn't get better once they left the locker room.
Again, Kareem Jackson was good for another pass-interference call late in the fourth quarter. He was flat-out beaten on the inside by Mike Brown down the field and felt it was a good decision to grab his shoulders instead.
Simply, there was no discipline on Thursday night—not that this is anything new for the season.
You Can't Win with That Many Missed Tackles Either
Sloppy arm tackles have been another theme of this season, and yes, J.J. Watt is excluded from this one.
On a big run from Maurice Jones-Drew midway through the third quarter, the Texans again resembled a team that has earned the first pick in the draft. Jones-Drew broke through the Texans' defensive line easily and then dodged some half-attempted tackles from Shiloh Keo and Eddie Pleasant before he was finally brought down.
For a team that was once ranked so highly in run defense, it's a mystery how this happened.
Then again, the Texans don't have a single name among the "Top 50 Tacklers of 2013."
Still No Answer for Paul Posluszny
Paul Posluszny killed the Texans' offensive line a few weeks ago, and he did it again on Thursday night.
It's been a recurring theme of the season really, to see some of the league's top pass-rushers destroy Houston's quarterbacks.
Posluszny finished without a sack this time around, but he did have 10 tackles—one of which came on 3rd-and-1 to stuff Ben Tate in the red zone.
Posluszny has easily been one of the Texans' biggest enemies of 2013, and with Gus Bradley drawing up a ton of pressure with the three-man rush, Schaub never really stood a chance in the second half, despite his best comeback attempts.
J.J. Watt Remains the Only Positive
Just like Posluszny, J.J. Watt also went home without a sack. He did, however, have two big passes swatted down and applied pressure on Chad Henne all night through some good inside lanes.
Unfortunately for the Texans, Henne was quick enough to scramble his way out of trouble on some occasions. Watt still remains the only real pass-rushing threat on the team, though, with Whitney Mercilus playing hot and cold football on a weekly basis.
It's a very minor positive to take away from a game that showed how much is wrong with this team.
The Texans Have No Starting Quarterback
For weeks I've been saying Keenum needs to be given the chance to win a game, to learn and to develop.
After his performance in the first half against the Jaguars, though, that ship has sailed.
It's hard to blame Kubiak this time around for benching Keenum for Schaub. The first-half Keenum finished 12-of-19 for 109 yards, but by the time the third quarter came around, he was still struggling to find targets.
Schaub came in and did his best. On his first drive, he showed the poise of a veteran and upped the tempo. He managed to find Garrett Graham in the end zone to make it a one-score game, but in the end, it was an interception from Schaub to Geno Hayes that cost the Texans another chance.
There's now no preferred starter in Houston. Keenum shows the potential a rookie should show, but he doesn't have the skills to find talent like Andre Johnson when it counts. Schaub, on the other hand, is still struggling with his reads and has no confidence whatsoever.
Drafting a quarterback still looks pretty good.
Coaching and Other Decisions
Schaub and Keenum are easy to blame, but Gary Kubiak has a part to play in this loss (as always).
The decision to go for it on fourth down late in the fourth quarter was questionable at best. A field goal instead of a turnover on downs would have made the Texans' last-ditch attempt at winning the game that much easier, even though Schaub threw it all away anyway.
The handling of the quarterback situation has also been mediocre at best. If there is any plan to keep Keenum on through 2014, benching him in the early stages of the third quarter is a little weird. Now, the Texans have two quarterbacks with zero confidence.
Throw in all of the penalties and the entire coaching staff was at fault on Thursday.
Ben Tate's up-and-down season continued on Thursday night, rushing for 53 yards in a pretty mediocre performance.
To put things in perspective, Tate rushed for only 20 yards more than Chad Henne, against a Jaguars team that ranks 28th in rush defense this season.
Last week, Tate saw some good blocking from the offensive line, and Gary Kubiak wasn't afraid to draw up plays to the left-hand side. He was also used a lot more effectively in the red zone last week on inside routes but was stuffed this week on 3rd-and-1.
The story has already been told of Tate's season. There's been a lot of injury, but after the season looked so promising for him, it's definitely been a down end to the year.
The Texans Have Probably Secured the First Pick
General manager Rick Smith and owner Bob McNair have been pretty quiet on the Texans' struggles this year. Come April, though, they will have plenty of explaining to do when the Texans take the best player available in the draft.
Thursday's loss has set the stage for Houston to be the first team announced come draft day. Their main opponent at this stage is the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings, but with the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans standing as the Texans' last three opponents, it's likely Houston will finish last in the standings.