Through the first seven LA Rams games this year, I have given you a comprehensive preview and primer of the upcoming opponent. “Everything you need to know...” as I say. Well, this week is a little bit different. I don’t know how in-depth I should really dive this week because here is everything you need to know about the 2021 Houston Texans:
They are a travesty of football and a STAIN on the NFL’s season.
While I have nothing but respect for the players and coaches who are fighting to not only win games, but to keep career hopes alive on an individual basis — many current Texans won’t be in the league next year or the year after that — the clear mission statement from ownership and general manager Nick Caserio is to lose games at any cost, improve Houston’s 2022 draft position, and be ready to usher in a new head coach and a new quarterback when the pieces fall in place.
The debate about the merits and likelihood of a team “tanking” has been taking place on some level for decades but somehow it appears that national pundits are overlooking or ignoring the most obvious mission to fail since The Producers.
With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, the Texans scored 51 points in their first six quarters. Since removing Taylor in Week 2 and placing him on injured reserve with a hamstring strain, Houston has scored a total of 46 points in their last 22 quarters.
Handing out wins like Oprah gives out cars, the Texans have been on the Davis Mills-end of blowouts to the Bills (40-0), Colts (31-3), and Cardinals (31-5) over the last four weeks, while also losing to the Patriots (25-22), a team that hasn’t beaten any other team this season except for the 1-5 Jets. Prior to that, Houston fell to the Panthers (24-9), a team that is 0-4 since, including a 25-3 loss to the Giants last week.
Fans understand that some teams will be bad every year. Some teams will even be terrible. But should it be okay for a team to intend to be terrible? Is it okay to have a general manager who intentionally makes his team unwatchable because he believes it will eventually make the team a Super Bowl contender?
If you’re a fan of the Texans, maybe so.
If you’re a fan of the a team that needs the Texans to put up a fight against a team that might knock your team out of the playoffs, then maybe not.
In addition to losing Tyrod Taylor at a time when he was one of the few players helping Houston compete in games, the Texans have also kept Deshaun Watson away from the team all year (understandably so, but no trade or active effort to replace him or get value from him yet), placed left tackle Laremy Tunsil on injured reserve, cut linebacker Whitney Mercilus, and made virtually no effort to upgrade the roster after a 4-12 finish in 2020.
If the Texans hadn’t traded their 2021 first round pick to the Dolphins for Tunsil, then perhaps Caserio would have drafted Trey Lance and given a greater effort to build a roster around him. But you could argue that without that “reward” for a 4-12 season, and without Watson in the building to help the Texans win games, the front office decided it would be best to lose games.
You could argue that.
Houston need look no further than the baseball team in town: The Astros quite famously tanked in the early 10’s, losing over 105 games for three straight years, and then won the World Series with their rebuilt roster in 2017—and they’re currently back in the Series today, tied 1-1 against the Braves.
But baseball has a 162-game season and it may be harder to argue that every loss by Houston was a key win for someone else.
It is easier to say that the Texans — or any other team that is tanking, of which there are several candidates — are toying with competitive balance issues if they are indeed trying to lose every week.
Few teams are as unwatchable as the Houston Texans. Few teams in my lifetime have been less competitive. Many people say, “Don’t say negative things about the upcoming opponent, for the team may lose!” (I don’t know why people say this, but they do.) Well, let me say this:
If the Rams lose to the Texans, it’s not “Any Given Sunday”.
If the Rams lose to the Texans, it’s the 1929 Stock Market Crash. It’s Titanic. It’s going to be the stupidest day in Rams history. And the only person who will be more upset than Sean McVay, will be Nick Caserio.
Some fans will also say, “What about the 2020 Jets?” I think facing an Adam Gase-led Jets team with nothing to lose in Week 15 is a little different than facing a midseason 1-6 Houston team that seems to have a GM actively influencing the outcomes each week, as subtly as he can get away with it, and with new starters stepping in every day, as others get released or IR’d.
Anything can happen, but too many people on both sides seem to want the LA Rams to get a win.
Here is everything you need to know about the Houston Texans:
They’re not a complete football team and the NFL should look into it.
2021 offensive ranks
Pass attempts: 27th
Rushing attempts: 17th
Net yards per pass attempt: 27th
Passing touchdowns: 25th
Rushing yards: 30th
Yards per carry: 32nd
Rushing touchdowns: 29th
Points per drive: 31st
Red Zone O: 15th
3rd down: 16th
Time of Possession: 28th
Offensive “strength of schedule”: 2nd
*Essentially, FootballOutsiders is saying that last season the Texans have faced the second-hardest schedule of defenses in the NFL by average DVOA. (But this has to be aided by facing Houston.)
Offensive Depth Chart
2021 Defensive Ranks
Points Allowed: 27th
Yards Allowed: 26th
Turnovers Forced: 11th
Net Yards per Pass Attempt Allowed: 29th
Passing Touchdowns Allowed: 16th
Rushing Yards Allowed: 31st
Yards Per Carry Allowed: 27th
Rushing Touchdowns Allowed: 31st
Points Per Drive Allowed: 29th
TOP allowed: 18th
Red Zone D: 17th
3rd down rate: 21st
Defensive “strength of schedule” rank: 15th