Panthers vs Texans: 5 Things We Learned from Houston's 28-13 Loss

Mike KernsCorrespondent IIIDecember 18, 2011

Panthers vs Texans: 5 Things We Learned from Houston's 28-13 Loss

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    From the moment that Arian Foster put the ball on the ground in their first offensive series, you kind of had the feeling that the Texans were just due for a stinker. This afternoon, they achieved that and then some.

    The Panthers came into Reliant Stadium and beat the Texans in all three phases of the game, handily. 

    In facing their first loss in almost two full months, there are plenty of adjustments that need to be made going forward and I'll examine a few of those and what we learned from today's defeat now.

Get Well Soon, Wade Phillips!

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    It was glaringly obvious that no Wade Phillips equals no defense for the Texans.

    For the first time this season, the Houston defense was seemingly unable to get off the field on third down. Carolina converted in that situation a staggering nine out of 14 times, and kept the Texans defense gassed all day. By the end of a few of those drives, they just looked out of gas, and Cam Newton and the Panthers exploited it to perfection.

    Nothing against Reggie Herring, but it was very apparent that this unit reacts differently with Wade Phillips on the sideline. Missed tackles, big running plays and busted coverages all afternoon had Texans fans having flashbacks to the Frank Bush-led squad from 2010.

    Even the elite guys like Johnathan Joseph got lit up today for big plays. All they can do is put this one behind them and regroup quickly for another game in four days on national television.

Neil Rackers Is Becoming Unreliable

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    While he hasn't quite reached the levels of Kris Brown in 2009, Neil Rackers has slowly become a bigger concern.

    After only missing three field goals in all of 2010, he's missed six through 14 games this season. Pretty much, if the kick is greater than 45 yards, Rackers is going to hook it, and since it hasn't been in a big situation yet this season, people haven't been riding him too much. But imagine if he misses that kind of shot in the playoffs in a close fourth quarter.

    Unfortunately, this late in the season you are stuck with him, come hell or high water. You aren't going to get a new field goal kicker in the last few games of the season when he has yet to cost you a big game.

    Let's hope we aren't facing that situation come January.

T.J. Yates Finally Looked Like a Fifth Round Rookie

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    BREAKING NEWS: T.J. Yates is a rookie.

    The fallout over this guy on Twitter and on local radio is quite horrid right now. You know fans are overreacting when they're talking about playing Jake Delhomme.

    Did anyone out there realistically believe that Yates was going to play mistake-free football the rest of the season? I'm not going to make excuses for the kid, he had an awful game. But I've expected it.

    He looked like a completely different guy under center today with the numerous check downs, unexplainable interceptions and poor accuracy. He had guys wide open over the middle of the field, but was locked into his check down options almost all day. And when he would go down the field, his precision was atrocious.

    This is pretty much the game I've been expecting from T.J. since he took the reins a few weeks back. You can't turn the ball over that much and hope to play well. He's going to watch some film, do his homework and grow from this. It's all you can do.

    Yates needs to have a short memory and focus on making corrections this Thursday in Indy.

That Arian Foster Guy Is Still Pretty Good

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    Despite the early fumble that saw him temporarily benched early, Arian Foster still had a pretty great game.

    Another 109 yards on just 16 carries to go along with 5 receptions for another 58, Arian Foster continued to show that he is the biggest security blanket that a rookie quarterback could have. Unfortunately, it seemed like Gary Kubiak wasn't willing to give him a workhorse load today.

    When a guy is averaging 6.8 yards per carry, he needs to get the ball more than 16 times. Twice inside the red zone, the play calling opted to go pass-happy instead of sticking with the guy who was starting to gash the Panthers' defense on the ground. If they stick with him in those two situations that resulted in six points instead of 14, it could have been a very different ball game.

    However, hindsight is always going to be 20/20 there.

    With today's big game, Foster eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the second consecutive season.

    Just another year at the office for Arian.

Is This Who They Really Are?

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    Even if Houston had won out the remaining schedule and the Patriots, Steelers and Ravens all did the same, they were going to be hosting a wild card game at 13-3. So the chances of getting that first round bye might have just gone up in smoke.

    By the time tonight is over, maybe all four of those teams lose, who knows. But having to depend on getting some help is never the best way to go. There was no excuse to lay an egg this badly at home against a 4-9 team.

    But now the scary question is if this is who the team really is. With all the injuries and unfortunate events that have happened to this team in 2011, you have to wonder if this is everything finally catching up to them. Teams don't lose their three best players and then some, and just continue to whip teams with a fifth-round rookie quarterback leading the way.

    Personally, I think they were just due for a bad game. Look, the Packers lost to the freaking Chiefs today to ruin their perfect season...the Chiefs! These games aren't decided on paper and "Any Given Sunday" is more than just a catchy phrase.

    Hopefully, the guys learn from this and put it behind them going forward.