The Rundown: The Struggle is Real (Jaguars Edition)
The score does not tell the story despite a horrific lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 13-6 on Sunday. The result of the game marked the lowest point of the season, and this was to a season that looked like it could not get any worse. The Jaguars came into Houston and put together a few good plays to defeat an inept Texans team from start to finish.
The Texans have found ways to lose, and this is just another example of that situation. This time the offense offered little help for the Texans to pull this win out on Sunday.
Some Ugly Numbers
At the end of the first quarter, the Texans were out gained by the Jaguars, 121 to 4.
Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins had 10 targets combined for 3 catches and 47 yards.
Dennis Johnson had 87 total yards on the day and the team gained 218 for the game.
The offense was 4 of 15 on third downs.
Case Keenum averaged 5.o yards an attempt (169 yards on 34 attempts).
Texans’ offense averaged 3.4 yards a play.
The Texans ran 4 plays inside the Jacksonville 20. The offense ran a total of 57 plays.
Ben Tate had 7 carries for 1 yard.
Call it the lack of pass protection or not calling the plays in favor of Keenum, but the reality of it all is that he still has a long way to go to be successful as an NFL quarterback. The Jags sat back with two deep safeties, taking away the deep ball and forcing Keenum to beat them underneath. It is hard to tell, but there is a feeling that Keenum is thinking too much and slowing him down with his reads. Keenum struggled once again with intermediate throws to wide open receivers. This offense is predicated on how the quarterback does, and Keenum has not been producing.
He also made some decisions that got Ryan Griffin and Andre Johnson hung out to dry and take some big hits from Jaguar defenders. Gary Kubiak pulling Keenum last week could have attributed to the poor game for the young quarterback on Sunday. There is going to have to be a concerted effort to see what Keenum can really be by the offensive game plan to put him in positions to succeed.
J.J. Watt is Still Doing Work
Watt is still an impact player on a team that has been anything but that. Nine tackles, two tackles for loss, five quarterback hits, one sack and a blocked field goal went into the stat line for Watt once again. He needs help but his production is still the same, minus the high number of sacks. There is no secret on what Watt means to this defense and right now he is the only defensive player that is consistent every game for the Texans.
Secondary Speed Issues
It is apparent that the Texans’ secondary has some issues with faster receivers, especially trying to cover out of the slot. Brandon Harris gave up the biggest play to Ace Sander for a 51 yard gain. For the decent job Shiloh Keo has done at safety, he has little room for error in coverage or pursuit angles with his lack of speed. The Texans will have to address this during the offseason to try and find more speed.
Yes, it was against Jacksonville but Mercilus had his best game of the season. Mercilus was very active on the field and produced 6 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 tackles for a loss and 4 quarterback hits. He finally looked like he was able to use his speed and athletic ability to make plays. Mercilus quit thinking and started playing the game again and showed some flashes of his first round talent. Him and Watt were terrorizing Henne throughout the game and this was a small bright spot for the Texans on an otherwise bad day.
Randy Bullock May Have Recovered
He missed some big kicks early in the season but seems to be putting together a nice stretch where he is actually hitting the ball with power and accuracy. His kicks are finally looking the way kicks should, with no more odd spins off his foot. He has made 6 of his last 7 attempts (one blocked) and even put up a 51 yard attempt that had room to spare. He has flown under the radar and it seems like he has corrected his issues since he found his old kicking coach off the internet.
For the first time, it felt like a real disconnect on how the players translated their week of preparation to gameday. The team has the right mentality, but it takes one bad moment to send the team into their tailspin. There seems to be an acceptance of what is going on on the field, and things are slowly getting worse as the season drags on. The season is only going to get tougher and it was a total shock among players that they lost one to the Jaguars.
The struggle is real and the Texans are putting themselves into poor spots as a football team this season. This could be the lowest the team has ever been under the Kubiak era, and for the first time the players deflected discussion about Kubiak in interviews. It feels like change is coming and the players know it too, but when it will happen remains the question.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.