The Texans' lead in the AFC South is just like their $72M QB: A hoax
Brock Osweiler isn't the answer and DeAndre Hopkins should bolt in free agency
It isn't happening.
With a huge Week 12 game at home, the Texans showed up as flat as ever on offense. They don't have a pulse in the passing game, and you might as well go ahead and pronounce them DOA at this point. Go ahead and add them to the list of teams like the Bengals and Cardinals and Panthers and the Vikings, who effectively had their seasons derailed this week.
I don't care that Houston is still above .500. So are the Vikings, who are one of a few teams who could rival the Texans' offensive foibles. Houston has a very nice defense, which has done quite well to sustain its play even without J.J. Watt. They simply aren't otherworldly enough to overcome Osweiler's limitations and the acute strain he puts on a passing game that is absolutely going nowhere.
That $37 million guaranteed the Texans spent (wasted?) outbidding the Broncos on Osweiler is going to be the best money John Elway never spent. It's going to cast a long pall over another offseason in which the Texans are still going to be in search of a franchise quarterback, because they aren't close to having one right now. And if this kind of sloppy, lethargic, uninspired play continues (Osweiler was true to form with a 22-for-37 outing Sunday for 246 yards, no touchdowns and three picks), at some point in 2017 the team might as well give someone else a try throwing the football, even with Osweiler's $18 million salary being fully guaranteed.
Because this ain't working. It's not getting any better by the week -- in fact it seems to be somehow getting worse. It was typical stuff Sunday. Another slow start, another series of passes that came nowhere near the mark and/or nowhere near the sticks for a first down. This was quintessential Osweiler, especially in the second half with his team trailing.
In what should probably be the cover of next season's media guide, Osweiler faced a third-and-goal from around the 8-yard line, in need of a score, and rather than take a shot in the end zone or something, he threw short to the 3. Or, perhaps, the season-defining offensive sequence was his second pick of the game, with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, which sailed well beyond his tight end, C.J. Fiedorowicz, and directly into the arms of Chargers safety Dwight Lowery, who had but no choice but to catch the ball.
Osweiler is dead last among starters in the NFL in yards per attempt. It's not even close. Only once all season has he thrown for 7 yards per attempt in a single game (way back in Week 2). Not that 7 yards per attempt would be anything great -- it would rank 22nd in the NFL (that's the average of Trevor Siemian, the limited passer who replaced Osweiler in Denver). But even that is too lofty terrain for this offense to approach, even with two burners lined up on the outside.
Osweiler has topped 250 yards only twice. He now has 13 interceptions to just 12 touchdown passes. His QB rating for the season is 72.2, which is, frankly, inept. His yards per attempt for the season (5.77) is nowhere close to the league average (7.23).
Remember Brian Hoyer, last season's scapegoat who quarterbacked the Texans to a division title? He completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards (7.1 per attempt) with 19 touchdowns and seven picks and a rating of 91.4 in nine starts (11 total appearances) in 2015. How badly would this defense, and coach Bill O'Brien, sell off a limb to get that quarterback production now?
In a related note, why would DeAndre Hopkins re-sign with the Texans? Short of them putting a ridiculous deal in front of him after having his contract year marred by the league's shortest-armed starting quarterback, wouldn't you want to explore more fertile ground? Especially after the Texans refused to renegotiate his deal before the season.
So, yeah, it's over for the Texans. They had a chance to pull away a bit in this division and it hasn't happened. They're about to be caught from behind.
They don't beat many good teams, and lucky for them there aren't too many of them in the AFC South. Except, well, two teams in the division do have quarterbacks -- the Colts and Titans -- and one of them will end up with the division crown. Also, the problem for the Texans is they've already played the Titans and Colts at home, and now must travel to Indy and Tennessee. They're just 1-4 on the road this season. Their next two games are at Green Bay and at Indy, and they'll be looking up at the Colts in the standings by the end of Week 14 (and maybe the Titans, too).
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