You can blame Matt Schaub or the offensive line all you want, but the real reason that the Houston Texans were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon was the offensive (meaning terrible) play calling of head coach Gary Kubiak and offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.
Dennison is entering his fourth season with the Texans, and along with Arian Foster is responsible for the Texans having an NFL-best 26 individual 100-yard rushing performances and the third-most rushing yards per game (137.8) since 2010 (when he joined the Texans’ coaching staff). They have the second-most rushing touchdowns since 2012 (62), and eight different Texans on the offensive side of the ball have earned Pro Bowl invitations. So why has his and Kubiak’s play calling become so conservative in 2013?
Houston’s play calling in this game has spawned a new name for Kubiak. He’s now been dubbed “Gary Konservniak”, and he certainly deserves that nickname after this game. I understand that the Texans are a run-first team and that Schaub has thrown three pick-sixes in three games now, but if it’s first and goal I think it’s worth trying for a pass on first down (especially in this pass-happy league). On the first drive Houston ran and lost a yard, and then on the next two plays there was either some miscommunication or really good coverage by the Ravens, as there weren’t even any receivers in the end zone. The Texans settled for a field goal.
Texans fans will remember that last year the Texans had a lot of trouble getting the ball into the end zone when they made it into the red zone (much like the Cowboys). Thanks to the conservativeness of “Kubes” and Dennison, that problem still hasn’t been fixed. In the first two drives of the game the Texans made it into the red zone and then settled for field goals. Thankfully, Randy Bullock had a magnificent game, making all three of his attempts. If he’d struggled again, I’m not sure the Texans would have made it onto the scoreboard.
Thankfully, only one Ravens touchdown came on offense. The defense allowed only 75 rushing yards and 161 passing yards, and J.J. Watt collected another sack. Ed Reed made his Texans debut today and collected three solo tackles, but they were also frequently penalized with taunting and neutral zone infractions abounding.
Unfortunately, Andre Johnson was injured again, and an MRI on his shin after an X-Ray came back negative.
Schaub’s struggles and the offensive line missing Duane Brown certainly contributed to the loss, but “Konservniak” cost the Texans this game. If Houston is going to win this year, he’ll need to get a little riskier.