John McClain: Texans find more creative ways to reach new lows

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock (13691159ew) Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, right, greets Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10) at midfield following their NFL football game in Houston Jaguars Texans Football, Houston, United States – 01 Jan 2023

John McClain: Texans find more creative ways to reach new lows

In their last home game of a miserable season, before a miniscule crowd that actually paid to watch this catastrophe, the Texans stunk up NRG Stadium with a pathetic performance that should have sealed the fate of coach Lovie Smith and his staff.

After suffering a 31-3 loss to the Jaguars in their most lopsided defeat of the season, the Texans are expected to have a new coaching staff and a franchise quarterback in 2023. They have a 2-13-1 record and one game remaining at Indianapolis against a team they tied in the first game of the season.

If the Texans lose at Lucas Oil Stadium, they’ll finish with the NFL’s worst record and the first overall pick in the draft. But if the Texans defeat the Colts and the Bears lose at home to the Vikings, Chicago earns the first pick. After this weekend’s games, the Texans can do no worse than draft second overall.

Based on what happened Sunday against Jacksonville, Texans’ fans hoping for the first pick and the opportunity to decide between the two-best quarterback prospects – Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud – should be able to breathe easier. The Texans’ uninspiring effort against the Jaguars showed they’re certainly capable of another lackluster performance at Indianapolis.

There were several factors that made Sunday’s effort so surprising. The Texans were coming off three consecutive impressive games – four- and six-point losses to the Cowboys and Chiefs and a victory over the Titans – but they played Jacksonville as if they’d been commanded by the McNair family to lose to protect their place at the top of the draft.

Any Texans’ fan who watched Young and Stroud produce magnificent performances on Saturday against Kansas State and Georgia would drool over general manager Nick Caserio having his choice of either quarterback. As bad as the Colts are, the Texans are even worse. At least they have been for most of this season, and they certainly were again Sunday.

The Jaguars had nothing to play for because the game didn’t mean anything in the playoff picture. Win or lose, their home game against the Titans will determine the AFC South winner – a division Tennessee has dominated the last two seasons. Not only did the Jaguars break a nine-game losing streak against the Texans that dates back to 2017, but they elevated their winning streak to four games. They’re now 6-2 over their last eight games to make them 8-8 going into the Tennessee game with a chance to win their first division title since 2017.

Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson said he was going to play his starters because “there’s no such thing as a meaningless game.” He wanted to keep the momentum going as they prepare for the Titans. He didn’t remove quarterback Trevor Lawrence until the Jaguars had built a 28-3 lead with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

Smith said for the last two weeks the Texans wanted to win out to close with a three-game winning streak and a 4-1-1 division record. After Sunday’s game, he was asked for his opinion on how he’s coached this season. Smith runs the defense and leaves the offense to Pep Hamilton. The offense has been a disaster.

“I don’t quite know how to answer that,” Smith said. “We’ve won two games. When I talk about what the players haven’t done, I mean, we’re leading them. I’m leading the team, so it’s pretty simple on how I’ve done this year. Haven’t done a good enough of a job to win games.

“We’re really disappointed in how we played today. They’re a good team. They have a chance to represent our division (in the playoffs). Our play was not good enough in any phase. And all that, of course, starts with me as the head coach. We have to do a better job. We have one more chance to get this bad taste out of our mouths.”

Washing out their mouths with soap wouldn’t get rid of the putrid taste from such a disappointing and exasperating season. The Texans didn’t win a game at NRG Stadium. Whether it was at home or on the road, they blew games in the fourth quarter, and they were blown out. Sunday’s 28-point loss was their most decisive defeat since last season when the Colts defeated them by 31.

After the Texans broke their nine-game losing streak with the victory at Tennessee, fans expected more from them Sunday, but they got less. A whole lot less.

The defense outplayed the offense, but that’s been the case for much of the season. The Texans entered the game ranked last in offense. They lived down to expectations with 277 yards. Only once in the last seven games have they reached 300. Hamilton’s passing game has gone seven games without netting more than 215 yards. They had 193 against the Jaguars, who came to Houston with a defense that was 26th – 14th against the run and 29th against the pass.

“You definitely learn about your team when we’re going through adversity,” Smith said. “We’ve been doing that for a period of time. We’ve been out of the playoffs for a while. Normally, once the team is out of the playoffs, then you kind of see what they’re about. Our guys have been showing up playing and practicing hard (and) trying to win games. We didn’t play well enough today. If I’m a betting man, I would say we’re going to play a lot better next week.”

There are a lot of Texans’ fans who’d take that bet in a heartbeat.

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Monday and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

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  • BYE BYE LOVIE. Good Ridance

  • Bye Bye Lovie
    Good Riance🤓

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