Jan 1, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith looks up before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Smith disappointed in Texans hideous Week 17 performance
Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith had higher expectations for his team before their abysmal showing in their 31-3 blowout loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the team’s final home game of the season.
When your team gets its doors blown off in your own building, there’s nowhere for a head coach to hide. It’s even worse when your team is 2-13-1 and just completed its first winless season at home in franchise history.
“Of course, the plan was for us to play a lot better than we did today.” Smith opened in his post game press conference. “We’ve been playing better football than we played today, all three phases. Defensively, we got to tackle better. That’s been a tough spot for us a lot of the year. We had opportunities. These explosive runs, we had been playing them better, but today we didn’t. Too many missed tackles which lead to big plays like that. Offensively, we have to get some points on the board. We were never able to really establish the run. Pass-wise, for protection to just the entire passing game, it wasn’t our day today. Kind of as simple as that.”
Coach credited the Jaguars for their play in disrupting the Texans’ offense, which generated next to nothing for 55 minutes of the game.
“First off, I think we probably need to give the Jaguars credit. They’ve been playing outstanding ball. The pressure was good on their part today. Coverage was really good. So, if you throw that back on us, I didn’t think our protection was as good as it needs to be, and Davis (Mills) would be the first guy to tell you. Whenever we’re talking about passing game not being effective, it’s about throwing and catching. We weren’t able to do that today.”
The Texans’ offensive line, which had performed well for the past four weeks despite injuries shuffling players around, was at full strength for this game. They had their worst performance in a month. They were unable to keep Jaguars pass rushers at bay. While they only allowed two sacks, they gave up a ridiculous 12 quarterback hits, and Texans QBs were often on the run as protection consistently broke down too quickly all game.
One of the themes Smith and his coaches have pushed this season is evaluation and self-evaluation. It has been discussed every week of the season for the past two and a half months. When asked to evaluate how well he has coached this season, Smith did not hide from the failures.
“I don’t quite know how to answer that. 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 as good enough of a job to win games. So sometimes I mean it ends up like that for whatever reason. I know we showed up, we’ve been trying hard we didn’t get it done right now. What I’m focusing on as much as anything is we have one more opportunity to get a win, and then after that you can look at the body of work and what we’ve done with what we’ve been working with.”
Despite the noncompetitive performance from the team on Sunday, Lovie doesn’t think that it detracts from the positive growth many players have made this season in what has clearly been a rebuilding year.
“No, we’re really disappointed in how we played today. I don’t think it’s any more than that. We’ve got to look at what we did today. The last four weeks we played against a team that’s in first place in the division. And this team we played today has been playing very good football. They’re a good team. They have a chance to represent our division next week. But for us, our play, this was not good enough in any phase. And all that, of course, starts with me as the head football coach. We have to do a better job. We have one more chance to get this bad taste out of our mouths.”
It was an especially disappointing performance as the team was seeking its first home win of the season and had been playing better over the last month. There was a reasonable expectation that the Texans would at least play a competitive game.
Smith was disappointed they became the first Texans team to finish a season winless at home.
“Disappointing. Whenever you talk about a first-time, something that’s never been done, you know, as I said, the plan, of course, was to play a lot better. When you play like that, it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to win one, so there’s nothing else to really say on that. You got to score some points, got to be able to keep them out of the end zone. We didn’t do that today.”
The head coach expects his team to show up much better in the season finale.
“It’s just that. We talked a lot about trying to finish with a great record of course in our division. We’ve split with a couple of teams. The other team, we’ve tied them. There’s an opportunity for us to get a win. I know they need one as much as we do. We have one more game on our season. We’ve gone through some tough times. If I’m a betting man, I’ll say the guys are going to really show up and play well against the Colts.”