Think Ryan Mallett stunk Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals? Ryan Mallett agrees with you.
"I couldn't hit the board side of a barn from five yards away," Mallett says.
It's an apt description for a 21 of 45, 46 percent completion game that dooms the Houston Texans to a playoff chase crippling 22-13 home loss. Mallett missed receiver after receiver with so many balls flying high over Andre Johnson's head that All-Time Greatest Texan must have been wondering if Houston's latest quarterback project thought he'd been replaced by Yao Ming.
The near self mocking afterwards is also the only really encouraging thing from Mallett's second career NFL start.
Andy Dalton may have to retire that Good Andy/Bad Andy rap everyone heaps on him and hand it off to Mallett if this continues.
It's a good sign that the 26-year-old Mallett willingly shoulders blame for this dud. It's a stand-up move that won't go unnoticed by the veterans in the Texans locker room. Mallett marches into the center of the locker room, wearing his sports coat and blue jeans game day attire, and meets the media without leaning on excuses.
"Just couldn't throw it to my guys," Mallett says.
This kind of erratic passing has hounded Mallett since college. It's the main reason he became a New England Patriots reject. It's probably why Texans coach Bill O'Brien didn't go out of his way to trade for Mallett until his price sunk to rock bottom — even though O'Brien knew he risked seeing Mallett go to another team by waiting and waiting. It's likely the reason O'Brien didn't rush to replace a mediocre Ryan Fitzpatrick with Mallett earlier too.
It's also something Mallett and the Texans coaches couldn't fix during the game, because of the injury or otherwise. If this is a mechanical issue, it obviously requires more than a sideline tune up.
"I've just got to go look at the film and see if I was six inches off with the step — or just some of those things," Mallett says.
The sudden postgame reports that Mallett is suffering from a right pectoral injury add another dimension to his struggles — and makes them more ominous or encouraging depending on one's point of view. The injury might now make truly evaluating Mallett this season impossible. Does that keep real hope or just another false mirage alive?
As good as Mallett was against Cleveland on the road in his first career NFL start that's as bad as he was against Cincinnati at home in his follow up. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton may have to retire that Good Andy/Bad Andy rap everyone heaps on him and hand it off to the Texans new quarterback if this continues.
Give Mallett credit for taking responsibility though. It won't help him complete passes against the Tennessee Titans next Sunday. But it's a sign of maturity for a guy often knocked for being anything but during a somewhat suspect draft process.