Houston Texans: Week 14 loss to Indianapolis Colts a wake up call

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 09: Alfred Blue #28 of the Houston Texans is tackled by Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at NRG Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 09: Alfred Blue #28 of the Houston Texans is tackled by Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts during the first quarter at NRG Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Week 14 loss by the Houston Texans to the Indianapolis Colts should serve as a wake up call to the franchise moving forward.

The Houston Texans lost a crucial divisional matchup in Week 14 against the Indianapolis Colts by a 24-21 score at NRG Stadium.

Plenty was on the line this week for the Texans. Most importantly, though, was that with a Texans win they would have added to their AFC South lead and would have jumped to the No. 2 spot as the New England Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins. However, the Texans couldn’t sustain the Colts and saw their nine-game win streak snapped.

The Texans came strong right out of the gate. They played dominantly on both sides of the ball, scoring a touchdown and pushed the ball downfield. In addition, the Texans did not allow the Colts to get a first down in the first quarter, but both the Texans’ offense and defense lacked thereafter.

Houston failed to match the Colts’ pace on the offense and could not move the ball on the offense. Although the Texans were able to keep up in the Colts in the second half, it was not enough for the Texans to be victorious.

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On the other hand, the Colts played excellently. Aside from a weak first quarter, the Colts were balanced on both sides of the ball. Andrew Luck threw for 399 yards, two touchdowns with one interception. T.Y. Hilton caught nine receptions for 199 yards and Eric Ebron caught four passes for 65 yards and one touchdown.

The Colts were very efficient and productive on the offensive side of the ball. In addition, the Colts defense sacked Deshaun Watson five times and stymied one of the best rushing offenses to only 89 yards in 25 attempts.

This Week 14 game was very indicative of the Texans’ performance. Although the Texans played impressively during their nine-game win streak, they did play teams that were below the .500 mark. The Texans did not play any challenging teams during that span of wins other than the Colts, in the past 10 weeks.

However, the great feat accomplished by the Texans, by winning nine straight games, should not be undervalued. More importantly, though, the Texans should focus on this loss and work on fixing their mistakes.

One thing that was clear after Sunday’s loss is the Texans’ inability to play against top tier teams. The Colts embodied and epitomized a top-tier team. The Colts were as hot as the Texans during their five-game win streak prior to playing the Jacksonville Jaguars. With both Colts’ offense and defense thriving, they were unstoppable. After losing to the Colts, the Texans showed fans and pundits alike that the Texans have many glaring holes that need to be fixed immediately.

Firstly, the Texans need to be more consistent on offense. The Texans — shown clearly throughout the season — depend on their run game as the primary source of offense. The Texans start to lack in the rushing game against top-tier defenses, like the Colts. The Colts absolutely shut down the run game for the Texans debilitating them greatly.

However, when the Texans do not play a tough rushing defense, the Texans can torch opposing defenses greatly. As a result, it is crucial that the Texans develop a two-prong offense. When one is not at its best, the Texans can rely on the other.

This other part of the offense should be the passing game. Watson represents a young talent who has not been used to his full potential. Although Watson has some big weaknesses, he is a playmaker by nature. It is crucial that head coach Bill O’Brien utilizes his star quarterback and his talented, but depleted receiving corps, to the finest. This is because when playing tough defenses, the Texans do not seem to be able to handle the ball properly. In the process, the Texans can not only fortify their offense but also teach Watson and develop him to become an even better quarterback.

In addition, the Texans defense need to play better coverage. Even when the Texans are not hitting all cylinders on offense, the top-ranked Texans defense needs to overtake and play a defensive game. The Texans’ played horrendous coverage on the Colts receivers. Sunday’s implosion was not an isolated event, but an accumulation of terrible jobs covering the wide receivers. The Texans allowed 397 yards from Baker Mayfield and 399 yards from Andrew Luck. This is indicative that the Texans need serious help.

The Texans need to switch up the plays and take care of mismatches in order to stymie opposing wide receivers. Putting Shareece Wright on Hilton or Zach Pascal was not a great idea. Although Wright has put together a great season, he is simply not as fast or skilled to cover fast players.

Instead, the Texans should take in advantage of their depth. Instead of Wright, the Texans should have put Aaron Colvin in the secondary. This would have helped stopped the fast receivers that Wright had to cover. The secondary has slowly been improving throughout the course of the season, but recently, the performance has decreased greatly. The secondary was a major problem coming into the season, but if the Texans want to be serious contenders in the AFC, better coverage needs to take place.

Houston fans can take solace in the plenty of things that happened right against the Colts. The Texans gave up a great fight, and if not for a late penalty by Jadeveon Clowney, would have had a fair shot of extending the game or winning it outright.

The Texans should also be proud of their ability to create turnovers with the secondary intercepting the ball four times in the past two games. Also, despite this loss, the Texans hold a firm place in the AFC South and should not fret about losing control in the division anytime soon and seem on the right track to make the playoffs.

Houston’s morale reached a low point for the first time in nearly three months. Players were frustrated and disgusted with their performance, but head into the Week 15 matchup this Saturday afternoon against the New York Jets with optimism.

For once this season, the Texans have confidence after losing. Confidence that the Texans can win against the Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jaguars.

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There is also some confidence that the Texans can secure a first-round bye, and confidence that no other team can stop the Texans on their way to the playoffs and beyond.