Been there, done that.
In 2014, Bill O’Brien’s first season as head coach, the Texans found themselves under .500 with a 4-5 record and had a decent chance at somewhat controlling their fate. A 5-2 record in the final stretch was good enough to produce a winning season one year after a two-win season, but it wasn’t enough to sneak into the playoffs.
The following year, the team seemed to be in the midst of a lost season by starting with a 2-5 record. Luckily, thanks to a poor division and a rallying team, they would go on and finish the season 9-7, with a four-game winning streak pumping life back into the team. The record was good enough for the playoffs this time around, but the quarterback performance was far from being even remotely coherent of the game of football and Kansas City would march into NRG to hand Houston the worst playoff loss in the team’s short history.
Then there’s 2016 – the season Brock Osweiler finessed the living shit out of the Houston Texans and committed the biggest theft in league history. Even with that trainwreck, Houston would finish with a 9-7 record for the third straight season under O’Brien, good enough to repeat at AFC South champions and a win against a Carr-less Raiders team, only to succumb to the magic of Brady and Belichick in the divisional round.
Now, here we sit headed into the final game of week 12 and the Texans sit at 4-6 with what is the most adversity facing this team not just in the O’Brien era, but the most since 2013.
The headline earlier in the season came at the hands of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus when both went down in the same drive against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 5. However, Texans fans found a glimpse of hope that hasn’t been felt before because of Deshaun Watson – the quarterback that essentially cost Houston their first two picks in the 2018 draft.
I understood Watson’s situation coming out of college. He ran a spread offense in Clemson and had an interception problem. I didn’t want Watson to start as early as he did. I thought he needed time to adjust to the NFL and sit behind Tom Savage for at least a season – all this despite Dabo Swinney’s Michael Jordan comparison.
The Cincinnati game wasn’t enough to convince me. The Patriots game was too surreal for me to recognize it then. The Chiefs game showed me Watson knows what to do in the pocket and can air it out. Then the Seahawks game proved to me he wasn’t like any other rookie, much less any other rookie quarterback I’ve seen.
I, along with the rest of the NFL, realized that the guy who is barely a year older than me was ready to be put up against the men of the National Football League and was ready to lead the Texans on an improbable run.
Then the Texans continued with the injury luck that has plagued the rest of the league and Watson tore his ACL in a non-contact drill in practice in the week headed into the Colts game.
After scoring 30+ points in five straight games, #SavageSZN didn’t seem to be as productive as I would’ve wished. 21 points in two losses had me thinking that O’Brien’s coaching prowess would be on full display if he managed to will this team to an 8-8 season.
Then Tom Savage had his first multi-touchdown game and the offense topped 30 points for the sixth time this season and took their fourth win along the way as well.
Now, the Texans are a game and a half out of the final wild card spot and can keep their playoff hopes alive with a win against the 5-5 Ravens. There’s a chance.
If the Texans pull out the win on Monday night, they will make it a five-team tie for seventh place in the AFC, one game out of the six-seed.
It won’t be an easy task with Tennessee, Jacksonville and Pittsburgh on the schedule after Monday night’s game, but I’ve come to learn you can never count out a Bill O’Brien-led Texans team.
But before that, let’s take care of business on Monday night first.
It’s truly one-game seasons from here-on-out.