The Houston Texans closed out the 2014 preseason with a 40-13 loss at the hands of the San Francisco Forty-Niners Thursday night at NRG Stadium in Houston. The loss dropped Houston to 2-2 on the preseason schedule, while the win moved San Francisco to 2-2. Houston will be at home entertaining RGIII and the Washington Redskins on the opening Sunday of the 2014 season on September 7th, while San Fran will return to Texas to play the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington at AT & T Stadium.
Houston took a 3-0 first quarter lead, but fell apart after that point. The one thing the game showed was that the backups for the Texans are questionable at best, and many of them probably do not belong in the NFL.
Overall, it is really hard to assess what to expect out of new first year head coach Bill O’Brien and his staff in 2014, although one would certainly believe they will without a doubt do much better than last year’s 2-14 debacle that cost Gary Kubiak his job. Houston did show some flashes of greatness at times during the preseason, but they also showed a number of signs of very probably not having the pieces they need on offense to get the job done.
One still has to question O’Brien’s decision to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick in as the team’s new starting quarterback after the departure of Matt Schaub to Oakland. “Fitzy”, as he is known to the coaches and his teammates has a more than lackluster 26-49 record as an NFL quarterback in his ten years in the League, and he seldom looked like a solid NFL starting qb during his playing time during the preseason.
Though O’Brien, who was brought up in the Bill Belichick system of “don’t tell the media anything more than the NFL requires” mentality, it was apparent listening to his answer in his post-game press conference after the blowout loss to SF, that he is less than satisfied with his backup quarterbacks so far.
“Again, like I said, halftime wasn’t very good, but again, I think it’s important to note that it is a team effort, whether it is a protection breakdown or maybe a wrong route. Obviously, the quarterback made some mistakes, but it is a team effort and no one out there on offense really did anything worthy of note, including the coaching, so both the players and coaches need to improve. At the same time, preseason is over. We begin the process of getting down to the 53 man roster here over the next couple days and we head into the regular season. It is what it is, and we are moving on.”
He was also asked what he felt good about going into the season opener. “I feel good about the veteran leadership on this team. I feel good about both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, knowing their assignments, knowing what we do schematically. I feel good about, for the most part, our draft class, our rookies, where they are right now relative to being rookies. I feel that our role players, guys that we feel have really come on as far as special teams and offense and defense, whether it be a backup or a guy that’s on all the special teams. I feel good about some of our role players. And then there are some things that we really have to improve upon. That’s what we’ll continue to do starting tomorrow and Monday through Friday.”
The next question posed to O’Brien was what improvements he thought the team needed to make. “Situational football, I mean it happened again tonight at the end of the half. We got a chance to drive the ball in two minutes, start the drive with a good screen pass and then had a miscommunication on a route and one guy ran one route, the quarterback threw another route and we had an interception that led to a touchdown. I think offensively we were directly responsible for I think two touchdowns basically. So that’s not good. We have to fix that. That’s something that we’ll continue to try to do and do that throughout next week.”
You won’t be able to read anything into where this team will finish up at the end of the season, but two things DO appear to be in their favor as the regular seasons begins. First, thanks to the worst record in the NFL last season, the schedule will be tilted in their favor. Secondly, they are facing the also-ran Redskins at home to open the season. Houston SHOULD be picked to win the game, and if they fail to do so, it could be an early indicator of yet another VERY LONG season for the NFL fans in H’Town!