WINNING HURTS: 5 observations from the Houston Texans’ 32-31 victory over the Indianapolis Colts

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

WINNING HURTS: 5 observations from the Houston Texans’ 32-31 victory over the Indianapolis Colts

These five things stood out the most in the Houston Texans 32-31 win over the Indianapolis Colts in a game they truly needed to lose:

Lovie Smith needs to go: There is zero reason for the Texans to bring Lovie Smith back. Not only has he been a worse head coach than David Culley, but this game demonstrated the lack of overall understanding. His speech about there not being much difference between the top pick and the second pick was nonsense. The team needed to secure its future and Lovie made sure to jeopardize it with the understanding he isn’t going to be around to deal with the fallout. Reports before the game indicated Smith has already gone to Cal McNair to beg for another year. Overall the run defense was worse and the defense overall was worse, and that is supposed to be Lovie’s calling card. The regression of Davis Mills is the most damning, however, because his total failure to develop Mills clearly indicates he cannot be trusted to develop their new quarterback either. Lovie will be proud of this win that cost the team the top pick as well, leaving fans incensed.

The entire coaching staff can go with him: The defense is awful. In Week 18 they still continue to miss tackles like they’re avoiding the plague. Some of these runs the Colts succeeded on were just embarrassing. Defenders missing tackles by a mile, getting stiff-armed to the ground, spun around like they’re on skates. Houston couldn’t run the ball to save their lives without Dameon Pierce. It really is a testament to how good Pierce is, and how many tackles he breaks, that no other player on the team has had any success running the ball at all. Suddenly in Week 18, Pep Hamilton decided to disguise some sets and have a vertical passing game. This has been the worst Texans offense I have seen in my 10 years in Houston. The defense may statistically be the worst they have had in 10 years. Everybody goes!

Davis Mills just played his last game as a Texan: Mills has proven all year long he isn’t the guy. At some point, the decisions have to get better, and they got worse. His back-to-back series with interceptions in the third quarter with a lead is wholly indicative of these hideous decisions. The first was a pick-six, and the second was literally just chucking the ball up for grabs down the field into double coverage for no reason. He may have physical tools that people like, but the decision-making has gone so far backward that he cannot be trusted to become a championship-level quarterback. His reclamation can be another team’s problem. Even if all he returns is a sixth-round pick, get him out of here. Mills finished 22-for-38 for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 brutal interceptions.

The Texans have a chance to make significant strides next season: There will be a top rookie quarterback, a returning Pierce, a healthy Nico Collins, and John Metchie III. Houston will have cap space that they did not have this year due to the Deshaun Watson situation. Nick Caserio did a terrific job drafting strong talent the last two seasons and acquiring a lot of draft capital in the Watson deal to replenish the young talent on the roster. Houston will have 11 picks in the upcoming draft, including two firsts and two thirds. They will have some money (approximately $48 million) and that is before they assign cap casualties for more flexibility. Caserio will finally have the keys to the franchise in the offseason with Jack Easterby no longer a looming shadow with the owner’s ear. This team should have had at least six wins this season but poor coaching, atrocious quarterback play, and undisciplined defensive play placed them where they are at the bottom of the league. The right coach can make a monster difference, see how it has impacted the Jaguars and Giants. There is hope.

Some players showed they belong: Chris Moore showed he is a receiver worth keeping around. Nico Collins, before his injury, would have been someone we talked about as a breakout star if he had better quarterbacking. Jordan Akins has bloomed this season, and Teagan Quitoriano looks like a legit player. Jalen Pitre had an excellent rookie season, Christian Harris looks like he will be a very good player too. Tytus Howard showed he can be a bookend tackle, and was excellent in pass protection. Kenyon Green recovered from struggles to play much better before getting injured, and I believe he will continue to grow. Derek Stingley Jr. did not allow a passing touchdown before his injury. A lot of the younger talent showed out this season, Houston just didn’t have the depth or consistency to win games. There is a good base of young talent despite the awful record.

BONUS: Brandin Cooks decided to show everyone he can still play: It has been a trying year for Cooks, who has grown frustrated with the losing and needed time away from the team for a bit after his request to be traded at the deadline was not honored. He just completed one of his worst seasons. This was only his third season in nine years under 1,000 yards. The other two were his first season and a season in which he suffered multiple concussions. He was considered a player who was ‘quarterback proof’, meaning he would produce regardless of who was throwing the ball. His stock took a major hit this season, but his strong game in Week 18 (5 rec, 106 yds, 1 TD) will be the tape he and his agent use to try to convince a team he is worth that $18 million price tag he carries next season.

As a result of the victory, the Texans will have the second pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

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1 Comment

  • This org is trash John. I would expect to be fired after this season/game. The ownership is its own worst enemy.

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