So close, yet so far away: 5 Observations from Texans 34-24 loss to the Chargers in Week 4

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock (13435875ad) Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) runs for a touchdown against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game, in Houston Chargers Texans Football, Houston, United States – 02 Oct 2022

So close, yet so far away: 5 Observations from Texans 34-24 loss to the Chargers in Week 4

These things stood out the most to me during the game

Dameon Pierce needs the ball: He was essentially the whole offense. He broke a 75-yard TD run on a toss play. Despite being hit behind the line far too often, he continues to get yards after contact. Everything they do that has any success starts with Pierce. He finished with 14 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 

Dump off Davis Mills is broken: I don’t know if he can be fixed, but they better find a way fast. Mills continues to misfire on open receivers, missing high badly on his second throw of the game that was intercepted. He also missed Nico Collins by a country mile on a play in which he was wide open on a 3rd down. He missed OJ Howard high inside the Chargers’ five-yard line, which led to a FG in the red zone instead of a TD. All the little dump-off passes that get little to no yardage may look good for his completion percentage, but they do nothing to advance the offense. Mills threw a brutal interception late on a pass he basically chucked up like a balloon in the middle of the field into multiple coverage. He finished 26/35 for 246 yards, 2 TDs but 2 AWFUL INTS. 

The pass rush is missing in action: Justin Herbert had literally all day to throw. He was barely touched all day. His rib cartilage injury was essentially never an issue because he had all the time in the world to throw. He picked the defense apart all afternoon. Herbert dropped back 40 times, and Houston had one sack and two hits. That’s it. It was a lousy day for the Texans’ defensive line. 

The Texans’ pass coverage is also a mess: Anything Herbert threw short in the flats, over the middle intermediate depth crossing routes, or down the sidelines between short and deep coverage was open all game. There never seems to be an adjustment. Twice on the Chargers 4th quarter touchdown drive, they beat the Texans on the same exact play. They used it on 4th and 2 from their own 45, and again on 2nd & 10 from the Texans’ 14 for the score. The second time they ran it, everyone in the stadium apparently knew the play, except the Texans. Mike Williams had 7 receptions for 120 yards and was open all game.

The pass protection is a problem: Even without Joey Bosa, the Chargers’ defense swarmed the Texans’ offensive line and often made Davis Mills have to move to get a pass off, and usually, they were short dump-offs. Los Angeles had four sacks and ten quarterback hits as they hurried Mills throughout the afternoon. For a line that was more known for pass blocking than run blocking, they were bad at both on Sunday.

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