Mandatory Credit: Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP/Shutterstock (13419247bb) Houston Texans safety Jalen Pitre, right, intercepts a pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (11) during the second half of an NFL football game, in Chicago Texans Bears Football, Chicago, United States – 25 Sep 2022
These things stood out the most about another game Houston let get away.
1) The Texans cannot stop the run. This was by far their worst performance of the season from a run defense standpoint. The improvements we saw in the preseason and through three quarters against the Colts have disappeared. The Texan’s defense was trampled by the Bears, made worse by the fact that Chicago’s passing game is essentially nonexistent. In fact, the Bears lost top RB David Montgomery in the first quarter and still ran all over Houston. Chicago ran over Houston like Georgia would run over Savannah State. Chicago has 281 yards rushing. That’s not a typo.
2) Dameon Pierce is better than we think, but he needs to hold onto the ball. The Texans’ run blocking, against the worst run defense in the NFL, was mediocre at best. Too often, Bears players were getting to Pierce within a yard of the line of scrimmage if he made it to the line of scrimmage before being hit. Pierce is a load to bring down and nearly always managed to pick up more yards after contact. He would likely have ridiculous numbers if he could get just average blocking. Now, about holding onto the football. Pierce lost the ball in the first half on a play he spun out of a tackle, and again deep in his own territory in the 4th quarter on a play where four Bears hit him several yards behind the line of scrimmage. After the first fumble, Lovie Smith went right back to Pierce. After the second fumble, Rex Burkhead replaced Pierce the rest of that drive and again the next drive when Houston was in Two Minute Offense late in the fourth.
3) Jalen Pitre announced that he is a player. Pitre had two interceptions today and returned one for 20 yards. He also had a tackle for loss, two passes defended, and a big sack. It was a very strong game for the Texans’ rookie safety to build on.
4) Texans’ “Fourth Quarter Offense” is very real. It’s almost like a switch goes off, and the Texans forget everything they know about football on offense. They start taking penalties. The line can’t block. Mills can’t find receivers. Mills gets sacked. I don’t believe in voodoo, but does someone have a whammy on the Texans’ offense in the 4th? Davis Mills capped it off with a terrible interception at his own 30 with only 1:13 left in the game. It’s three weeks in a row that this team can’t get out of its own way in the fourth quarter when they have the ball. Houston ran 12 plays for 39 total yards in the fourth quarter over 6:22 of possession.
5) Davis Mills should be on the hottest of hot seats. Maybe it’s the pressure of knowing he’s playing for his job next year, maybe the league has adjusted to him, and he needs to adjust back, but the Davis Mills from the last five games last year is dead, and the new Davis Mills has no confidence in the fourth quarter. Mills is too erratic during the game, misfiring on open throws and not putting the ball where his receiver has the best chance to make a contested catch. His late fourth-quarter interception was a brutally bad throw. Mills finished 20/32 for 245 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.
Bonus) Is OJ Howard on a milk carton? Since catching a pair of touchdowns in Week 1, Howard has been almost completely excluded from the offense. He didn’t see his first target until there were under four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Jordan Akins, elevated from the practice squad Saturday, had four targets, as did Pharaoh Brown. There has to be more usage in the passing game for Howard.