Following the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs it is crystal clear some changes for the Houston Texans are needed.
The Houston Texans need to take a look at the NFL history book, and an even closer look at the 2011-15 Cincinnati Bengals, because that is the path this franchise is eerily starting to mirror. Besides qualifying for the playoffs, that isn’t a good reflection to have.
The Texans had not a heartbreaking loss, but more of a loss that causes a lot of anger on Sunday to the Kansas City Chiefs. This Divisional Round loss to Kansas City will be a tough one to overcome for this franchise, no matter what the say publicly.
Was losing a 24-0 lead in the second quarter the biggest collapse ever in the playoffs? For the Texans franchise, yes, but not the biggest in NFL history. Sadly, the Houston Oilers and their collapse in 1993 against the Buffalo Bills was worse, and even worse than that was the Atlanta Falcons losing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl in an eventual loss to the New England Patriots.
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Now back to the analogy between the Bengals from 2011-15 to the Texans of ’15-19. The Bengals had five playoffs appearances and two AFC North championships in that five-season span, and in that time under head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals (who made the playoffs a total of seven times with Lewis as head coach) never won a single playoff game.
Lewis coached the Bengals from 2003-18 where his teams compiled an overall record of 131-122-3 (.518 winning percentage), with four AFC North championships and seven playoff appearances resulting in early exits all seven times, never getting out of the Wild Card round. In fact, the Texans handed those Cincinnati teams two of their seven playoff losses.
Fans in Cincinnati grew tired of underachieving seasons, as the Bengals had some talented players like Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and others who helped lead them to the playoffs, but none of Lewis’ teams could ever win the big games.
Starting to sound familiar?
Now, O’Brien has been the Texans head coach since ’14, and in his time in Houston his teams have an overall record of 52-44-0 for a .542 winning percentage.
O’Brien’s teams are 2-4 in the playoffs and have never advanced past the Divisional Round with two losses to the Patriots, two losses to the Chiefs and one loss to the Colts.
The Texans are similar, but even more advanced in their roster when compared to those aforementioned Cincinnati teams. The Texans have Deshaun Watson at quarterback, DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver and Carlos Hyde at running back.
If we really want to compare the past Bengals teams to the current Texans, what about Houston having Will Fuller and the Bengals having players like running back Cedric Benson, Jermaine Gresham at tight end, Geno Atkins at defensive tackle, Marvin Jones at wide receiver and Tyler Eifert at tight end.
Compare those players, and they are similar to the type of team the Texans have built over the years, and Houston is heading to the same results as those Cincinnati teams.
Since last making the playoffs, the Bengals gradually fell worse and worse under Lewis until he was eventually let go by the Bengals, and now they are the worst team in the NFL, starting over with the No. 1 overall pick.
Does Houston not see where they are headed? We all know the Colts are eventually going to be more competitive, and the Titans are in the AFC Championship game with Derrick Henry running over teams.
Not having a first-round pick for the next two drafts — those were traded for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil — the Texans must continue to add to the team with players they scout and even pick up in free agency or via trade. They must not only find and sign players, but the front office (the Texans still don’t have an actual general manager, so to speak) has to make sure they bring in the right players needed.
Houston did a pretty solid job of that this offseason with not only Tunsil, but the addition of Kenny Stills in that same trade was big, and Jacob Martin made a big play or two in the playoffs. Drafting Tytus Howard seems like it will be a good choice, and Lonnie Johnson Jr. is going to turn into a very good player as well.
All of that could have been said of the Bengals back in their heyday as well, and none of those teams could even advance to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, much less the AFC Championship and beyond.
Much of this comes down to decision making of the head coaches, and though O’Brien and Lewis are solid football guys and will know more about football than most, the same results each and every season can’t occur for everything to come up as being successful.
Success in the NFL is measured by Super Bowl championships, and the Texans haven’t won enough to get to that point.
There are no more excuses or explanations that need to be heard. We’ve seen this story before in the Bengals and how their success in the regular season resulted in an empty trophy case, and if the Texans aren’t careful, the same thing will happen to them as well.