Gary Kubiak Won't Be Coaching for His Job Next Week, But He Should Be
Check out our slideshow of the last Texans home game for the regular season.
Photo by Groovehouse
The narratives for the first two Texan losses wrote themselves, even if they weren't completely accurate. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are Hall of Fame quarterbacks and played extremely well. The Texans (12-3) had a few unlucky bounces on offense. The team didn't desperately need either game.
None applied to Sunday's embarrassment by Christian Ponder and the Vikings (9-6). In a game where the Texans had everything to gain -- most notably, the number one seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs -- the star-studded offense didn't show up.
"We just didn't make plays," Andre Johnson said after the game. "We played horrible as an offense. That's pretty much it."
Going back to the second half of the Tennessee game, Houston's first-team offense has been dreadful for five of its last seven halves of football. It's a concerning trend as the team heads to January.
Offense turns offensive
The Vikings and Patriots have capable defenses, but these aren't the 2001 Baltimore Ravens. They shouldn't hold a team led by Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Johnson to 187 total yards and six points in a full football game. That type of outing has now happened twice in three weeks.
Every aspect of the team failed. The offensive front was largely obliterated by Jared Allen and Minnesota's defensive line, two weeks after a similar outing against Vince Wilfork. Several receivers -- notably, Owen Daniels and DeVier Posey -- dropped multiple passes.
Schaub didn't always have time. But when he did, he still appeared to be jittery. In one example, on a critical third down in the third quarter, Schaub settled for a two-yard dumpoff to Ben Tate and a punt even though he seemingly had several more seconds to let downfield routes develop. In other instances, wide-open deep patterns to Daniels and Andre Johnson were overthrown.
"It's a huge, huge disappointment," said Kubiak. "One that we've got to get over real quick. Offensively, that was probably about as bad as we've played."
Everything about the offense -- from the players down to the scheme -- has Kubiak's fingerprints all over it. When it fails, he fails.
Playcalling mirrors poor execution
If it were just an issue of personnel failures, the head coach might be excused for part of the blame. But in Houston's case, the individual failures are matched by incoherent and deeply flawed strategic thinking.
Trailing 16-3 to open the second half, the Texans began with back-to-back Foster runs -- even though Foster was a non-factor in the first half with 12 yards on nine carries. It left them with a third-and-long, which they failed to convert, leading to a three and out.
Should the Texans have completely abandoned the running game? That's up for debate. But there should at least be a consistent and understandable philosophy.
Flash forward two drives, and the Texans found themselves with a first and goal inside the Minnesota one-yard line. They opted for pass plays on two of three downs and settled for a field goal. The same offense that minutes earlier trusted its run blocking enough to hand it to Foster on second and long -- down 13 -- suddenly didn't believe it could pick up a foot.
"I don't know what was going on," said Daniels. "You want some type of rhythm. We couldn't find that all day."