Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mark Black/UPI/Shutterstock (13419638p) Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith on the sidelines during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday, September 25, 2022. NFL Texans Bears, Chicago, Illinois, United States – 25 Sep 2022
It has been an incredibly frustrating first half of the season for the Houston Texans, who seem beset by the same problems each week.
Texans head coach Lovie Smith lamented his team’s consistent failures following Houston’s 24-16 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 10.
Smith’s opening remarks in his post-game press conference sounded eerily similar to the remarks he starts almost every post-game presser with:
“Whenever you come on the road playing a good football team, there are some things
you’ve got to do. Number one, you’ve got to win the turnover ratio; we didn’t win that. We haven’t
taken the ball away enough, really, all year, definitely not today. On the offensive side of the football, you
can’t turn it over; it’s kind of simple as that. Those turnovers were really big.
“We knew that it’s tough duty stopping a great running back like (Giants Running Back Saquon) Barkley, and we let him break out a few times. [If he’s] breaking out, there’s got to be a missed tackle somewhere in there. I thought our guys played hard. Defensively that long touchdown pass just missed tackle and man coverage. When you’re blitzing in man coverage, it’s tough if you have a touchdown that long; we should have to miss two tackles because normally, we have a guy in the middle of the field. Those hurt, and like I said, you’ve got to take the ball away. We’ll keep talking about playing the run better.
“Offensively, got to score more points than that. We had the opportunity; we were down in the red zone quite a few times. Got to be able to get it in.”
Losing the turnover battle. Critical turnovers. Inability to defend the run. Giving up chunk plays. Missed tackles. Missed opportunities on offense. Failure to convert in the red zone.
It is like Groundhog Day. Each game is the same. Each answer is the same. Each outcome is the same.
Smith expressed frustration with the red zone failures:
“Yeah, I can say we didn’t run it well enough, and at least we had done a better job passing, but as
much as anything, you can’t turn the ball over down in the red zone. I mean, in the game, we were in a
one-score game. Lot of things we talk about when you’re in a one-score game. I’m going to look at
turnover ratio and how we did with that. Again defensively, NFL games, you need to take the ball away
it’s as simple as that. They did, and we didn’t. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve got to protect the ball better,
make better decisions on some of those.”
The head coach admitted slow starts and critical mistakes have been crushing:
“Starting early, you need to be able to convert on third down. It’s kind of as simple as that. If you’re
three and out, you get a chance to see the game plan early on. When you move the ball down the field, and for whatever reason, if you get behind the chains early on, that can happen. But you’re right; we
didn’t start well. Offensively we need to play better than that, but there was a point of time in the game
where we got ourselves back in. That sack and interception that we threw, now we’re down one score.
We’re in the game. They’re some things we didn’t do well, but there are critical stages of the game
where we haven’t played our best ball. Specifically, today, that was one of them.”
However, despite all of the frustrations of essentially being right there in the fourth quarter every week, only to come up short nearly every time, coach Smith believes the team still has a lot of potential improvement and better days to come in the second half of the season:
“Well, it is frustrating. You can only talk so much about, ‘Hey, we’re close, man, and keep going; we’re
going to get over the hump.’ But normally, when you’re close, you do eventually get over the hump. But
for whatever reason, and not for whatever reason, we kind of know the reason, turnovers, not taking the
ball away. Just some explosive plays at the end; we’re going to keep going to work on that. We realize what the problem is and what the results say a little bit, but we are close. Eventually, I do feel like we’re
going to get over the hump. So far, we look at the first half of the season. We just finished up the first
half of the season – not good enough. But we still can see promise for the second half.”