In what seemed like a no brainer win on paper after learning that Colts QB Andrew Luck would not play due to injury, as well as backup Matt Hasselbeck being sick with a bacterial infection all week. The Texans found a way to lose anyway. A game filled with Texans penalties is becoming a trend, and this game was no better. That falls squarely on the coaching staff for failing to correct the problem in that regard.
Speaking of coaching mistakes. After a roughing the passer penalty on the Colts half way through the 2nd quarter, Texans starting QB Ryan Mallett needed to leave the game for at least one play, or the coach could have called a timeout to allow his QB to collect himself. Instead, O'Brien inserted Bryan Hoyer, but on the next play when Mallett was ready to return, O'Brien refused to reinsert his starting QB. I think some would argue that allowing Hoyer to finish the drive is not unreasonable, but certainly as long as Mallett was fine he would return in the 2nd half right?
It was not to be. O'Brien stuck with Hoyer the rest of the game despite Mallett going 7/10 for 50 yards. That's 70% completion percentage and a respectful 7.14 yards per attempt. Mallett did however have one INT in the Texans red zone when a catchable ball went through Fosters hands. How do you yank your starting QB on a roughing the passer call when was playing well and driving the team? All due respect to O'Brien for sticking with Mallett this week after pulling him late in the game during the blowout to Atlanta, but it was a short week and the best decision.
Hoyer played well in relief of Mallett and led the team on four scoring drives. The first a 36 yard FG by kicker Nick Novack. The second came just before the half on a 42 yard hail-mary TD pass to rookie wide out Jaelen Strong, who until today had been inactive on game day since the start of the season. The third drive came in the third quarter and led to another TD pass to the rookie on a blown coverage in the back of the end zone where Strong was left uncovered by Colts defenders. Pretty impressive debut, even though busted coverage was responsible for allowing Strong to haul in both passes. The final scoring drive was on an 8 play drive the ended with a Nick Novack FG from 49 yards out leaving 6:11 remaining in regulation.
The Texans defense, who struggled all night to put the brakes on the Colts offense finally did their job forcing a punt leaving Hoyer with 3:35 and three time outs to drive 64 yards for a game tying TD. Things were looking good to at least tie things up and force overtime, but that's when the wheels started to come off. Hoyer completed a 21 yard strike to Hopkins, but it was negated by a 15 yard penalty for Unsportsmanlike Conduct on Hopkins for throwing the ball at the defender after being forced out of bounds right in front of flabbergasted head coach Bill O'Brien. The return of Andre Johnson in an enemy uniform was supposed to be only a footnote. But after Dre had been held by opponents to a mere 7 catches went of for six catches for 77 yards and 2 TD's. Leave it to what was supposed to be a top 5 defense to make Dre look elite again.
The Texans drove down to the Colts 38 yard line by the two minute warning, still with all three timeouts remaining. On the next play, Hoyer showed his true colors throwing the ball up for grabs that was easily intercepted by the Colts safety Mike Adams with no Texans receiver within 10 yards of the ball. The Texans still had some hope. With 1:45 left and all three timeouts, all the defense had to do was force a three and out while using up their times outs. But on 3rd and 6, Colts QB Hasselbeck hit T.Y. Hilton for a 13 yard completion effectively ending the game.
O'Brien had a respectful rookie head coaching debut in 2014 with a 9-7 record, just barely missing the playoffs. But the honeymoon seems to be over as the Texans have stumbled badly out of the gate. From the bad decision to have a QB competition all the way through camp and into the 3rd game of the pre-season, with an ongoing QB carrousel, to a squad who cannot stop generating penalties and is getting beat in all phases of the game. Some, if not most of that has to be put on the head coach for not having his players prepared to play. "We gotta coach better, and players gotta play better" is getting old with the fans and while O'Brien says there still a lot of football to be played. People are already turning to the Astros and the Rockets as the Texans continue to stink up the field.