Texans bye week comes at a good time to evaluate offense

Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

This season hasn’t been the greatest for the Houston Texans, but there have been some solid moments that have been positive, and there have been other moments that make a person want to just turn off their TV or streaming device and go about their day.

This Week 6 bye comes at an opportune and important time for the Texans because the team that resides in Houston is coming off their first win of the 2022 season by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 13-6 in a game that wasn’t great offensively, but it worked well enough to gain the win.

This bye week hopefully gives Houston a chance to really evaluate their offense and more importantly the way offensive coordinator runs the offense. This is the perfect time to see what Hamilton needs to change in the way he calls a game thus far this season, and a way for the Texans to figure out how to better utilize their best players within their offensive system.

Houston enters this bye week with a 1-3-1 overall record after five games, and as an offense they’ve totaled 1,456 yards, compared to their opponents totaling 2,071 yards. The Texans are also only averaging 5.0 yards per play in ’22, and with 115 rushes this season, Houston as a team is averaging 4.3 yards per rush.

The play of quarterback Davis Mills has left many wanting for more and for good reason because he’s not playing up to the level he played at in the final stages of last season so far in 2022. In five games, Mills has passed for 1,048 yards, but the concerning part is he’s thrown for only five touchdowns and has four interceptions. He’s already been sacked 12 times, and his completion percentage is 62.7, which is down from the ’21 season number of 66.8 percent.

In total touchdowns this season on offense the Texans have eight, tied with the Los Angeles Rams Chicago Bears, and Carolina Panthers. That isn’t a group the Texans want to be a member of because the Panthers have already fired Matt Rhule as their head coach this week, the Rams aren’t the Super Bowl champion team they were a year ago (at least up to this point of the season) and the Bears have one of the worst offenses in the league.

Texans do have a positive at running back in 2022

One positive for the Texans is their yards per carry compared to all of last season. In ’22 Houston is averaging 4.3 YPC, but in all of ’21 that number was 3.4 YPC. The big reason for that change is the emergence of rookie running back Dameon Pierce.

Pierce in his first five NFL regular-season games has the following numbers:

  • Week 1 (vs. Colts) — 11 carries for 33 yards
  • Week 2 (vs. Broncos) — 15 carries for 69 yards
  • Week 3 (vs. Bears) — 20 carries for 80 yards and one touchdown
  • Week 4 (vs. Chargers) — 14 carries for 131 yards and one touchdown
  • Week 5 (vs. Jaguars) — 26 carries for 99 yards and one touchdown

Pierce also has 13 receptions for 57 yards in his first five games of his NFL career. The rookie running back also has a career-best 75-yard run this season and is averaging 4.8 YPC. To say Pierce has been a spark to the offense is an understatement, because he’s slowly giving the unit a new identity that was much needed when it came to the rushing game.

With his 412 yards so far in ’22, the rookie Pierce has almost surpassed the season total of the ’21 Texans rushing leader, that being Rex Burkhead, who totaled 427 yards rushing last season with three touchdowns, as he averaged 3.5 YPC a season ago.

The receivers have been playing as well as they can with Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins leading the way with that group. Collins leads Houston with 272 yards receiving, but doesn’t have a touchdown reception after five games. Cooks has just 235 yards this season on 24 receptions, though he’s been targeted 42 times. Collins has 27 targets and is averaging 18.1 yards per reception. Cooks has a 9.1 YPR number this season.

Not to be too negative, but for the receiving numbers to be better, the play of the quarterback has to improve, and that means he can’t be getting sacked 12 times in five games. The pass protection of the offense has to be better too, and that seems to always be an issue with this franchise more often than not.

The run blocking for Houston is better than it has been, but if the pass protection doesn’t improve, then the offense will still underachieve to be as good as they are capable of being.

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There is a lot of work ahead for the Texans this season, but it is good for the team — and the offense — to have a bye in Week 6 so things can be worked out and hopefully the formula for improvement is created to have success for the rest of the ’22 season.