One week after the Texans played so well and won a road game against the Chargers, they blew an opportunity to rule the AFC South with a 3-1 record when they lost 16-10 to Carolina at NRG Stadium. Now you’re angry, and you want to vent, and I feel your pain, so we’re having this special Monday Mailbag to air your complaints, most directed at coach Bill O’Brien.
As always, thank you for sharing your opinions. I’m sorry I can’t run every e-mail you sent after the game. If you want to participate in my weekly Friday morning Mailbag, please send your questions and comments to email@example.com, or you can tweet them to me at @McClain_on_NFL using the hashtag #askmcclain.
Okay, show me what you’ve got!
Q: Trick play that takes the ball out of Deshaun Watson’s hands and a bad challenge. Why do the Texans continue to dump the ball off behind the line of scrimmage? The game plan has no direction, and Bill O’Brien’s unimaginative attempts at play-calling give me a headache. Bill may not be the worst coach in the game, but he’s near the bottom. We have too much talent on this team to struggle like this? Same old postgame press conference. “We have to coach better.” I’m tired of hearing this week after week, year after year. We’re wasting a talented team with the worst coaching in the league. Bill won’t be fired, but that’s what he deserves. Cal McNair should take the play-calling out of Bill’s hands, and if he quits the team because of it, we’d be better off. — Joseph M.
A: You’re right about the trick play, Joseph. I had no problem with the challenge. I did have a problem with running out of timeouts with 4:11 left. I don’t see O’Brien getting fired. I don’t see McNair forcing him to give the play calling to offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, either.
Q: Shoddy play-calling, poor performance by the offensive line and no timeouts left at the end of the darn game. On to the Astros! Those guys are well-coached and know how to win. — Ronald J.
A: The Astros are the best team in baseball and favored to win their second World Series in three years, Ronald. It’s going to be a fun ride.
Q: OB talks about how bad the play-calling was. Mismanagement of the clock was terrible. He would cut or trade a player if they performed this way. He needs to look in the mirror. I thought last week was the best victory of the OB era. I think Sunday was the absolute worst. The defense played more than well enough to win. No timeouts with 4:11 left is ridiculous. I’m so exasperated with all the excuses. O’Brien is stubborn and needs to take a step back. I agree with Jimmy Johnson — Watson may be out of the league before he’s 30 if he’s not protected better and learns to get the ball out faster. — Glen K.
A: Watson is on a pace to be sacked 72 times, Glen, 10 more than last season when he was sacked more than any quarterback in the league.
Q: O’Brien again showed his lapses into ineptitude of game management by losing a timeout on a challenge that should not have been called and a ridiculous play call having Hopkins try a pass. — Bill T.
A: I don’t think you’ll get a lot of disagreement, Bill.
Q: It started as usual, slow and sloppy with poor blocking. Greg Mancz, a backup center playing guard because Zach Fulton got hurt, looked terrible. A 19-yard punt gave up three points. Blatant interference by Lonnie Johnson gave up a lot of yardage. Kenny Stills pulled up hurt. Nice drive to the Carolina 18 until we ask our best receiver (Hopkins) to attempt a pass all the way across the field. Stupid coaching. This turnover resulted in seven points for the Panthers. Texans got two takeaways in the first half. Result? Three points. More BOB bungles with timeouts and a phantom challenge. Very poor offensive execution throughout the game. Oh well, the answer is simple. They just have to coach better. The question remains, who should that be and when? — Gary G.
A: That about sums it up, Gary.
Q: I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get Watson to run out of the pocket and throw the ball away for starters. He has been in the league long enough to learn this valuable concept. Why take that hit when you don’t have to, and these hits will eventually start taking its toll. Hats off to the defense that played well enough to win. Ka’imi Fairbairn continues to struggle, and O’Brien continues to demand his team be branded with mediocrity, just what they are. Too much talent to play this way as a team. — Dan W.
A: A lot of fans feel the same way you do, Dan.
Q: Running back Christian McCaffrey made one of the best catches I’ve seen, although I still say it wasn’t a legal catch. Our field goal kicker is not a Super Bowl-level kicker. He scored the most points in the NFL last year, which means we didn’t go for touchdowns enough. He’s probably a good guy but is a choker. The big problem is the Texans don’t have the mindset of champions. A true champion always brings his A game to the contest. He never takes a day off. Usually, in a team sport, it is the lack of team leadership among the players. I love great blocking and tackling, and Zach Cunningham put on a hitting demonstration. —Jack C.
A: I agree with you, Jack, about McCaffrey but not about Fairbairn. He’s not a choker. He’s made a lot of big kicks. He’s off to a shaky start, as are many of the players. And you’re correct about Cunningham, who’s been terrific.
Q: After such a sad loss, I’m sure the mailbox will be packed full this week. It seems to me that even by Bill O’Brien’s poor standards, play-calling was incredibly unimaginative. Every passing play was a straight dropback, and Watson was pressured every time. Why do we use no play-action, designed rollouts and naked bootlegs like Kubiak did with Schaub, often very effectively? — Larry G.
A: I wish I knew, Larry. Watson played a great game against the Chargers and played poorly against the Panthers. I expect him to bounce back.
Q: Trade Bill O’Brien. He cannot call a game. Hire Oklahoma’s coach (Lincoln Riley). He would have Watson throwing down the field and have well-disguised running plays, Tight ends would catch passes down the field. — Stephen G.
A: Riley won’t be coming to the Texans, Stephen.