Five Frivolous Facts with Fred: Texans are 0-3

In The Loop
September 24, 2018 - 8:50 am

At some point, we’re all going to try and figure out – when did Bill O’Brien lose his edge? When did he lose the ability to competently coach an NFL football team? Some will argue he’s never had that ability, despite winning two AFC South Division titles with inferior quarterback talent. Sure the division was bad then, but he still found a way to go 9-7 twice. There had to be something there right? 

We can get into the extension, we can get into his playcalling, hell, we can spend a whole show breaking down his clock and game management issues. This much is true now – we are at the point of No Return with Bill O’Brien. He’s lost this team, he’s lost his coaching staff and he’s lost the City of Houston.

After an 0-3 start (BoB is now the third Texans coach – along with Capers and Kubiak – to start 0-3) where this team has started poorly for the THIRD consecutive week, there is no more ‘next week’, there is no more ‘we need to coach better,’ there is no more, ‘we just need to execute.’

At 0-3 – this season and this team is officially off the rails – and there are still 13 games left.

Let’s jump into the FIVE FRIVOLOUS FACTS…


Following the game Sunday, someone close to the Texans staff showed me the following text: "WE ARE F**KING PATHETIC AT PLAYCALLING". It appears the media and fans aren’t the only ones exasperated with the playcalling on Sundays by BoB. The person went on to say that the problem with BoB is that he’s trying to do too much, micromanages his staff and no one feels comfortable doing their job. “You’ve got five coaches with five different philosophies at this point.” They brought up the continued use of Lamar Miller on first downs and how “no one in the league is scared of Lamar Miller.” The disharmony with the staff has trickled down to the players and it was clear on Sunday after the game that no one is on the same page as to why this team – which has talent – is 0-3. The person added that the Brian Gaine-BoB dynamic isn’t the BFF-ManCrush that has been portrayed. Not that it matters, because even if he wanted to, Gaine does not have the power needed to make a move – that decision comes strictly come from the Top. Of course, this all sounds plausible, but when you compound it with what was said by the players after the game… 


I’m no John Lopez or John McClain when it comes to longevity in the sports reporting game, but I have been around long enough to know that when you hear the same thing two or three times, there’s usually something to it. But when you hear FIVE different football players, from both sides of the football ranging from rookie to accomplished future Hall of Famer – ALL SAYING THE SAME THING? You know there’s something to it. The following guys all said something to the effect of “I don’t know” when asked why this team was 0-3 or why it has no energy to start games:

JJ Watt – “I don’t know, I wish I knew” – on how to get out of the 0-3 slump. 

DeAndre Hopkins - “If I was a psychic teller, I could tell you, I just do my job.”

Lamar Miller – “I don’t know” when asked why the offense starts slow

Jordan Thomas – “I really don’t know, I’m a rookie so I’m just doing what I can to help the offense.”

Angelo Blackson – “We just came out a little slow. The goal all week was to come out fast.” 

For what it’s worth, Will Fuller did say that the difference between last year when the offense was clicking in Deshaun’s six starts versus why it’s stalled in the first three games this year – “finishing drives. We gotta find a way to get into the end zone.” While we all agree the Texans Red Zone percentage is putrid at this point, there’s more to this offense’s problems than simply finishing drives, getting them started would be nice. Or are we arguing semantics at that point?


It wasn’t all bad for the Texans on Sunday. JJ Watt, who’s still running straight up the field on most plays, did finally get to the quarterback Sunday after a two-year sack-less drought. He ended the streak in the second quarter with a strip-sack of Eli Manning that forced the Giants to kick a field goal. He added two more sacks in the second half, but neither came in the fourth quarter when the Giants were driving for the go-ahead touchdown that put the game out of reach late. JJ added in his post-game presser that personal stats don’t matter when the team is 0-3. No argument here on that front. Here’s the good news, JJ Watt is slowly rounding into form and is still the best pass rusher on this team. He also hit the quarterback four times as per the final box score, so for the second straight week, JJ is getting back to his menacing ways. The unfortunate part is that JJ is getting next to no help when it comes to rushing the passer, as the only other defender to register a sack Sunday was DT Angelo Blackson, who also had a QB hit and continued his solid play for another week. (We’ll get to the two no-shows in a sec) Now, with JJ running straight up the field, he’s still a relative liability in the run game and is diving at running backs as they glide by. Aside from the big hit on Saquan Barkley in the second quarter, JJ wasn’t great against the run on Sunday. But that’s more than we can say about his counterparts on the opposite end of the line….


This isn’t even about ‘I told you so’ anymore. This is about, please, can one of you please do something substantial? For the second time in three games this season, Jadeveon Clowney was a non-factor. In fact, there was a time in the second quarter when I asked Sean P. sitting next to me in the press box, “where’s Clowney?” Sean quickly spotted 90 next to HC BoB. We didn’t ask about 90 the rest of the game. He finished with three tackles and one of his patented ‘TFL’s. Actually, it was only one TFL. And I don’t remember it. Here’s what I do remember – he wasn’t a factor rushing the fleetest of foot Eli Manning. So there’s that. And then my guy, 59. Whitney. Mercilus. Much like the rest of the Texans who said, “I don’t know,” that’s what comes to my mind when describing what the hell has happened to Whitney. No one knows. For the third straight game, 59 was a no-show. He’s played in almost 90 percent of the team’s defensive snaps through three weeks – and has SEVEN tackles to show for it. That’s not a misprint. Nearly 180 snaps played – Seven tackles. Oh, and to save you time – Zero. That’s the combined number of sacks for both. Listen, there’s a slew of things we can blame on this coaching staff, and they deserve it. But then there’s just not getting it done out on the field, and that’s what we’ve got right now with this Texans defense from Clowney and Mercilus. Both are healthy, both are expected to boost this pass rush, and neither has come close to doing it. Not really sure what more Romeo Crennel can do for these guys at this point – but he needs to try something, because whatever he’s doing – isn’t working.


For the second straight game, Will Fuller led the Texans in receiving yards and demonstrated just how vital he is to this already desperate offense and scuffling quarterback Deshaun Watson. Since missing the season opener in New England, Fuller has been targeted 20 times and hauled in 13 Watson passes to the tune of 214 yards and two touchdowns for a 16.5 ypc clip. Not too shabby for the kid who put on 15-20 pounds of muscle in the offseason. Now, we’d love to say that having Fuller in the lineup cures what ails the Texans offense, but that’s too much burden to put on one man. But this much we do know, he has quickly evolved into more than just a deep threat and is becoming a full-blown receiver right before our eyes. He’s worked on his hands, his body and if he can stay healthy, then this dude could be a viable Pro Bowl candidate come January or February – because I don’t think the Texans will be busy that weekend.