Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Christian Smith/AP/Shutterstock (13581891ah) Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith watches as players warm up before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, in Houston Titans Texans Football, Houston, United States – 30 Oct 2022
These five things stood out most about the Texans’ 17-10 loss to the Titans in Week 8, a game that was nowhere near as competitive as the final score may indicate.
The run defense is beyond putrid: This was a total embarrassment. Malik Willis looked every bit the part of an unprepared rookie thrust into action, and the Texans should have been loading up the box, daring him to throw. Instead, Derrick Henry ran through the Texans like a runaway freight train ripping through a Yugo. They couldn’t solidify the middle. They couldn’t set the edge. They couldn’t maintain gap integrity. Derrick Henry had 219 yards rushing on 32 carries and 2 scores. Backup RB Dontrell Hilliard had 8 carries for 83 yards. The Titans had 314 yards rushing in an NFL game. This wasn’t Alabama vs. Savannah State, but the rushing totals say it may as well have been.
The Texans need to draft a QB at the top of the draft: Mills was good last week in Las Vegas, posting his best game of the season and his first 300+ yard game of the season. He had 17 yards passing at halftime. That is not a typo. He was indecisive, jittery, and woefully inaccurate. Passes were behind receivers, over their heads, in the turf, everywhere but where they were supposed to be. He again looked short dump-offs and missed on those as well. Mills needed to build on last week’s good game to show that he deserved to be looked at as a rising quarterback, and he turned in perhaps his worst game ever. There is no doubt Mills is not the guy. Mills finished 17 of 29 for 152 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. Eighty-eight of those yards came on the Texans’ final drive in super GARBAGE TIME., as did the touchdown.
The offensive line was brutal: Dameon Pierce was routinely hit behind the line of scrimmage. There were plays. Pierce barely got the handoff when he was hit. His biggest run of the game was 23 yards, and it was wiped out by a holding penalty on Justin McCray, who was injured on the play. Tennessee was simply more physical at the line of scrimmage in the run game than the Texans were, and it showed in every facet of the game. Pierce finished with 15 carried for 35 yards and had a 23 yards run negated by a hold. The Titans had 3 sacks, 6 QB hits, and 8 tackles for loss.
The Texans need to have a fire sale: Every veteran must go. Get all the picks they can, regardless of where. Brandin Cooks played like he didn’t want to play. Jerry Hughes continues to play well despite being one of the most double-teamed defensive linemen in the league. Laremy Tunsil is a highly regarded LT around the league. Anyone over 27 should be available. This team is going nowhere fast. Get all the assets possible for next season’s draft, and utilize the $50M or so in cap space to build a real foundation.
There needs to be an honest evaluation of the coaching staff: Especially on offense. Pep Hamilton was supposed to be a significant upgrade over Tim Kelly, and he’s been worse. A lot worse, in fact. This offense is a dumpster fire. Even Dameon Pierce couldn’t overcome the atrocious play of the offensive line today. Davis Mills has regressed badly from a year ago. The playcalling is terrible. There’s no motion, no shifts, the play calls seem to be on the same snap count way too often, and that is an offensive lineman’s worst nightmare. It’s too easy for the opposing defense to attack. The defense gives their best effort, but they can’t stop the run no matter what. The run defense is actually worse than last year’s unit, which shouldn’t be possible. All the hope and promise this team showed in the preseason has been obliterated. How is this team worse than last year as a whole? Some hard conversations need to be had, and then hard decisions need to follow.