Texans vs. Titans: Takeaways from Houston's 16-10 Loss Against Tennessee
The 2013 season started with an interception, so it's only fitting that it ended with one, too.
Two interceptions and a whole lot of the same was the Texans' undoing—pretty much the same story week in and week out.
The Titans, meanwhile, had a pretty average day, even though Chris Johnson made up some good stats.
Here's the takeaways for the final game of an ugly, ugly season.
The First Overall Pick Is Coming to H-Town
There are plenty of doubts heading into the offseason, but the one certainty is that the Texans will be the first team called come draft day in April.
Sunday's loss secured the first overall pick away from the Atlanta Falcons, and with Matt Schaub throwing two more interceptions on to his stat sheet, let the quarterback talk begin for the next few months.
If it weren't for Chris Johnson, the Titans offense would have stalled on just about every drive.
The Texans defense held Tennessee to only four third-down conversions out of 14 attempts and sent a strong message to Ryan Fitzpatrick with a ton of pressure up the inside. When the Texans were leading in the first half, the Titans had only one third-down conversion and played a pretty tight two quarters.
With Case Keenum injured on the bench, it was probably a foregone conclusion that Matt Schaub was going to turn the ball over at some point.
That, of course, happened on Sunday, and both of Schaub's picks were as ugly as they were to start the season.
The first one came on a pass that was deflected and fell into the hands of Akeem Ayers. The second came on the Texans' final drive of the season, and in fact, the very first play.
But aside from the two picks, Schaub also managed a fumble in the fourth quarter when he ran into Wade Smith, lost control of the ball and gave it back to the Titans. All three turnovers came in positive territory for Tennessee, two of which resulted in points.
Brice McCain had his first interception of the year on Sunday in what's been a terrible season for the 27-year-old.
Other than that, the Texans still have a takeaway problem to address, as McCain's turnover was the only one Houston could manage against a quarterback who has thrown 12 of them this year.
J.J. Watt had a better game than last, securing a sack and forcing a fumble. His surrounding cast was nonexistent, though, with Brooks Reed and Darryl Sharpton averaging nothing.
Drafting a hard-hitting defender who can actually knock the ball free would be a nice addition.
D.J. Swearinger finishes the year with 71 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble—not ideal stats for a rookie who has been thrown into the deep end of a struggling defense.
Swearinger's struggles continued against the Titans on Sunday, as he was burnt on routes. Covering Kendall Wright on 3rd-and-18, Swearinger was beat over the middle, and on Chris Johnson's 50th touchdown of his career, he was severely out-blocked by Nate Washington.
Coming into such a lousy season, it's tough for any rookie to look bright when the team wins only two games all year. Swearinger did force a fumble from Wright with a big hit late in the game, but his season probably ends on a low note after some more blown coverage.
Consistency and Play Calls
The Texans had a total of nine yards in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick was spreading the ball around among each of his receivers, and the Texans struggled with the tempo.
After such a solid-looking first half that got everyone's hopes up, the quarter-to-quarter consistency of the Texans is a worry. So is the play-calling, as a rushed throw on the final drive of the game intended for Keshawn Martin was the result of a risky play call that never should have happened.
It appears the Texans have either started out flat and stayed flat, or started out well and faded by halftime. That's the season in a nutshell.
Close, but Not Close Enough for Andre Johnson
We might have been asking a bit much of Andre Johnson this week, but if he managed 142 more yards to his name, he would have become the first player to register 1,500 yards and 100 catches in a single season.
Instead, Johnson finished with 1,407 yards and 109 receptions, plus one more touchdown than he had a year ago.
On Sunday, Johnson stayed quiet with just 49 yards. He's been the only positive talking point of this lost season, however.
The next important event on the Texans' calendar is the draft. Right after that is the 2014 season, where the opponents won't be any easier.
Houston will take a tour of the NFC East next year, playing road games in New York and Dallas. There's also a trip to Heinz Field to look forward to, while the Ravens, Bengals and Eagles will all pay a visit to Reliant Stadium.
Given how the NFC East has played out this year, it may not be the toughest schedule in the NFL, but who knows what shape the Texans will be in come next August?