Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Zalubowski/AP/Shutterstock (13400614q) Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, in Denver Texans Broncos Football, Denver, United States – 18 Sep 2022
The Texans called 41 dropbacks compared to 18 runs, two of which were Mills scrambles.
Texans head coach Lovie Smith expressed frustration with the offense after Houston’s Week 2 loss to the Denver Broncos, but it was the passing game that specifically drew his ire. While Smith is not apt to throw individual players under the bus, he made sure he expressed his displeasure after the game Sunday:
“I think our guys played hard, but offensively never really got things going. We’re able to get [RB] Dameon [Pierce] involved more this week but the passing game, there were plays that we left out on the football field.”
Smith seemed to be happier with the run game production, even though the Texans only had 15 carries by a RB (all Dameon Pierce) and 25 last week (split between Pierce & Rex Burkhead). Pierce averaged 4.6 YPC vs. Denver after he and Burkhead combined to barely average 3.0 YPC vs. the Colts last week. However, he clearly expressed the team must be better passing the football:
“We stalled. We’re not there yet. It’s kind of simply that. We show flashes of what we can be. I’m not going back to last week, but this week it was seemed like there’s a commitment to the run, I thought [RB] Dameon [Pierce] did some good things when he had an opportunity to carry the ball but it’s just not about the running game. You’ve got to be able to pass the ball too. In games, you’ve got to eventually come down to being able to pass the ball. At the end it went down by seven. It was going to be a passing game, and we’re able we weren’t able to come through.”
Smith said the team will get to work getting QB Davis Mills and his receivers on the same wavelength:
“We weren’t on the same page. We’re going to work and get him on the same page. There are no other answers I can give you right now. The passing game, we didn’t get production we needed to. We had a moment to drop a couple balls. Protection broke down at time. I am going to give them a lot of the credit for that. We’ll keep working on those things.”
Lovie wasn’t happy with Davis Mills’ performance but he knows there was plenty of blame to go around:
“We need more from [QB] Davis [Mills] but it starts up front first, and ‘Dave’ is having more time. Running game being a little bit more productive. Opening up some of the passing lanes. I understand when we’ve won the game, we’re going to give the quarterback a pat on the back but there’s so much more than just [QB] Davis Mills. Yes. Davis needs to get better, like we all need [to].”
Despite all the struggles, the Texans head coach also thinks they aren’t that far away from the offense clicking:
“When plays break down, it’s probably a combination of protection, as well as being a ready as you can be to be but sometimes, we have good protection. We were ready. That’s what I’m talking about some of the flashes that we saw. We were we able to get some production from the passing game. We’re not there yet but close. We feel like we played a good Broncos team here at home. We got better at some things, but we had a lead in the in the second half. We have got to be able to finish it as much as anything and everybody’s involved in that.
The Texans had more success running the ball this week, in part because of the commitment to Dameon Pierce and in part because of the changes to the offensive line. LG Kenyon Green got his first NFL start, and Scott Quessenberry replaced Justin Britt (personal reasons) for the game at center. The Texans found success running behind those two lineman, especially Green. Now, Houston needs to get its passing game connecting.