The Deshaun Watson-less Texans looked a lot like the 2016 Texans on Sunday. Only worse.
Ineffective on offense. Relying solely on a defense that gives up big plays, but also makes them. And that’s how Sunday’s game against the Colts played out.
And it was not good enough. The Colts came up with two big plays on offense to the one by the Texans defense, and that was the difference in the game in a 20-14 Colts victory at NRG Stadium.
If they Texans (3-5) are going to win, it is going to be because they play solid defense. And not give up big plays. They weren’t bad on Sunday, but they were not good enough, giving up two big touchdown passes.
And that was against the Colts, perhaps the weakest team left on their schedule not named San Francisco.
The defense gave up a long early touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton and fell in a 10-0 hole. But just before the half, Eddie Pleasant came up with a strip sack, and Lamar Houston ran it in for the score. That was as close as they would get.
Eddie Pleasant. Lamar Houston. Not the names you expected when the season started. But without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, this is what the Texans are.
D.J. Reader. Marcus Gilchrist. Carlos Watkins. These were the players the Texans were forced to rely on. And will be moving ahead.
And it wasn’t good enough. Against the Colts. Hilton made another big play on an 80-yard score in the third quarter, and that was all she wrote. On that play, Andre Hal did not touch Hilton down, and he got up and took it to the house.
We all know the offense will struggle without Watson. And Tom Savage lived down to expectations, much as he did last season, when he and Brock Osweiler were manning the ship. That is what the offense will be. It produced seven points against a bad defense.
They drove deep into Colts territory on the final minute, but typically bad clock management ended with a sack/fumble to close out the game.
So it is the other side of the ball that will be asked to win games, no small feat considering who is missing on defense. They were able to stay in the game Sunday thanks to a defensive score. But will they be able to do that against better offenses?
The Rams, who can both run the ball and get big games out of QB Jared Goff, loom next. Then a Cardinals team and who knows what the quarterback situation will look like for them? Ravens, Titans...even the 49ers now that they have Jimmy Garropolo -- will have better QB situations than the Texans. And the defense will have to stop them.
Hal. Brandon Dunn. Brennan Scarlett. These will be the names that will will support Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Bernardrick McKinney and of course Jadeveon Clowney.
They were not bad on Sunday. But they weren’t good enough.
Moving forward, they will have to be so much better. And with names like that on the field, it might not be possible.
The column originally appeared on SportsMap.