Despite losing by only a touchdown, the reaction the Texans received from Houston media in wake of the 27-20 season-opening defeat to the Patriots painted a bleak picture.
“It’s tough to give a team an F for coming within seven points at Gillette Stadium, but the Texans played bad for much of the game and have themselves to blame. Grade: F-plus,” wrote John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
The harshest criticism was reserved for Texans coach Bill O’Brien. The former Patriots offensive coordinator – in his fifth season as Houston’s head coach – was lambasted by Houston sports radio host Josh Innes.
“Disastrous football this weekend,” said Innes in the opening of his show on Sports Talk 790. “You would’ve thought a Texans loss by seven, hey they must have had a good fight? No, not really. I enjoyed that ESPN on their scroll last night said, ‘Brady and the Patriots outlast the Texans.’ That makes it sound like it was some sort of giant shootout or something. No, they were down by 14 with four and a half minutes to go. The dopey coach punted and they got lucky to make it a seven-point game.”
“Bill O’Brien is a dunce,” Innes continued. “I think that’s easy to say. He’s an embarrassment and the Texans are never going to win anything of consequence as long as he is here.”
The decision by O’Brien to not call a timeout following Rob Gronkowski’s disputed catch during the Patriots’ final drive of the first half – a drive which resulted in a New England touchdown – was given particular criticism.
“Pathetic again,” wrote Fred Davis of Houston’s Sports Radio 610. “I’ve supported [Bill O’Brien] throughout the offseason, but this is now two opening games in a row where the team has looked underprepared and overmatched. That screams to me that [Texans owner Bob McNair] needs to reevaluate his organizational structure – and possibly delegate duties because right now, he’s doing too much and it’s affecting this team.”
Greg Rajan of the Chronicle was more diplomatic in his assessment of O’Brien, but still hammered home the “what if?” aspect of the (non) decision.
“Had O’Brien called timeout and the completion been overturned, New England would’ve had second and 10 at its 41 with roughly a minute left,” Rajan wrote. “Would the half have played out differently? We’ll never know, but Gronkowski’s “catch” was arguably the key play on a pivotal drive in the game. O’Brien, meanwhile, didn’t use any of his timeouts.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who nearly orchestrated a Texans win in Foxborough a season ago, received his share of the blame as well.
“Deshaun Watson played his worst game as a starter. He looked out of sync and uncomfortable for much of the game. His protection was terrible for the most part, and he held the ball too long.”
The Texans face the Titans in Week 2 on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Nashville.