By Brien O’Donal
The Texans have now played 12 games this season and are out of playoff contention with a 4-8 record. There’s no other way to say it, they’re a tough team to watch every week. And to add insult to injury: there’s no silver lining in the offseason because they have no draft picks in the first two rounds and a lot more needs than cap space. The last 4 games saw the chances for a playoff spot burn out completely with a 1-3 record.
It hasn’t been all bad. The defense has been more than serviceable despite the injuries and have made a lot of key stops to provide the offense with the ball and a low score. Jadeveon Clowney has become the superstar he was drafted to be while other young players like Zach Cunningham, D.J. Reader and Benardrick McKinney have made their mark on this team. They could benefit from a better pass rush, but that is where they have seen the most impactful injuries.
The offense hasn’t been completely bad either. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the top 5 wide receivers in the NFL and Bruce Ellington has been pretty solid as well. Lamar Miller and D’onta Foreman were working well as a running back tandem before Foreman’s season ending injury. The offensive line has been a wreck but they have played well enough at times to give the offense a chance. But the obvious problem has been the league leading 14 turnovers by the quarterback who replaced Deshaun Watson. If Tom Savage could hold onto the ball the Texans might still be in the hunt.
Here’s a look back at the last 4 games and a preview of the last 4.
Texans at Rams Week 10–(L) 33-7
The Rams were a hot team going into this game and most expected them to put up big numbers against the Texans. If you look at the final score it appears they did. But the truth is that the Texans had a chance to make it a game. The Defense held their own in the first half; going into the break it was only 9-7. The Texans couldn’t get their offense going with Savage and in the second half LA found their form. They put up 21 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Tom Savage threw 2 interceptions and fumbled the ball twice, resulting in 13 points for the Rams.
Cardinals at Texans Week 11–(W) 31-21
The score in this one was close for most of the game. Savage and the offense were not the most efficient at times but they were effective. The Texans defense stepped up in the second half. After allowing a third quarter touchdown to make it 21-17 in favor of the Cardinals, they shut them down the rest of the game. The forced a critical turnover on downs and had interceptions on consecutive Cardinal drives to help seal the game after D’onta Foreman had a pair of touchdowns to give the Texans the lead and the win.
Texans at Ravens Week 12–(L) 23-16
Despite the Texans having a chance to win this game throughout, most watching probably felt like it would be a loss. The Ravens defense played like they should have against a Tom Savage led offense and the Texans defense did the same against a struggling Ravens offense. The game ended because of critical turnovers from Tom Savage at the end of the game that allowed the Ravens to close it out. The Texans last two possessions of the game ended on a strip sack and an interception closing out a 7 point win for Baltimore.
Texans at Titans Week 13-(L) 24-13
The second meeting between these teams in 2017 was in stark contrast with the first one. Without Deshaun Watson the Texans offense would have to grind it out and find a way to put up just enough points to keep their defense off their heels. This time they actually did it. Tom Savage looked serviceable and wasn’t turning the ball over to the Titans. At least until the game was nearing its’ end and the Texans needed just a touchdown to take the lead with under 2 minutes to play. It was there he drove them down the field, looking brilliant on a 4th and 19 play; but threw an interception to end the drive. The defense, probably disheartened, gave up a final touchdown and that was the end of the game.
To close out the season the Texans have home games against the 49ers and Steelers and are on the road for the Jaguars and the Colts. If Savage can cut down on the turnovers they might be able to win against the 49ers and the Colts-two teams having similarly bad seasons- and finish 2-2 to end the season. But that’s not a given. I don’t expect much in their games against the Steelers and the Jaguars because those teams have good defenses and are fighting for playoff seeding. If all goes well the season can end with a 6-8 record and something positive to build on for next season when star players will return from injury. All we can do now is watch and try to enjoy as much of these games as we can.