Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 1/1/12
It might sound ridiculous since NFL teams only play 16 games, but for some teams that is too many. The Houston Texans are a case in point. After clinching their first playoff position in a comeback win at Cincinnati they have not been a very good team. They go into the post season next week on a three game losing streak. Some of it caused no doubt by the relief of having finally gotten into the playoffs. Some of it caused by the large number of injuries to key players including two quarterbacks. Some of it caused by the absence of their defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, after undergoing surgery. And some of it caused by keeping other key, healthy players out of the final game to avoid injury. No matter the reason, it added up to pretty lousy football for Houston fans down the stretch. Too many games that didn't really matter resulted in ugly play. There is no point questioning the coaching decisions that might have resulted in this ugly football. Gary Kubiak and his staff were trying to get some players healthy and to keep others healthy to have the best shot at gaining a playoff win. The team that was put on the field the last three weeks just was not as good as the one that charged to a 10-3 start. Is it possible to turn it on next week with the full complement of players on the field? That is a question that will be debated all week. Was the real key to Sunday's 23-22 loss to Tennessee the Texans opening drive? With as many regulars as available in the game the club moved down to score. After that 7-0 lead in which quarterback T. J. Yates was injured but went 4-4 passing, Yates left the game and Jake Delhomme took over, gaining some important experience. Under Delhomme the offense was never strong, but he threw a big TD in the closing moments that gave the Texans a chance to win. His final numbers were 18-28 for 211 yards and a touchdown. Some of his passes seemed to take a long time to reach their targets the arm is less zippy that it once was but his completion percentage was good enough. Ideally, Delhomme will be on the sidelines next week. Yates was diagnosed with a left shoulder bruise. Note that the left shoulder is not his throwing arm. If he is able to start, Delhomme at least won't be rusty if needed in relief. Going for a two-point conversion with 14 seconds left was the right call under the Texans circumstances. Totally blowing the chance was very disappointing. An offside and then a snap over Delhomme's head was not a pretty way to put a period on the loss. In recent weeks the Texans offense has been weak, but with legitimate excuses mainly the absence of WR Andre Johnson and the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Matt Schaub. The defensive problems are more concerning. Without the full offensive unit intact the defense will have to be better than ever. What has been evident is that when the opposing quarterback does not face pressure on nearly every play the secondary is still quite shreddable. Have the Texans been trying to play the last three weeks without their full roster, as well as without their whole play book? Many suspect that to be the case on both sides of the ball. We should be able to determine whether that is the case early in their playoff opener next weekend. If the adrenaline flows again and the club regains its aggressiveness, the team that won 10 of its first 13 even without Shaub can not only appear in the playoffs for the first time, but win their first game in the post season as well. Even with the home field advantage, there will be a lot of pundits who do not pick them to survive round one. It is up to them.
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