HOUSTON – Losing the first three games of the season is not a place you want to be as an NFL franchise.
But yet here we find the Houston Texas.
Only six teams have made the playoffs after an 0-3 start, which includes the 2018 Houston Texans. In fact, this rarity broke a 20-year playoff drought for 0-3 teams.
Is there a nine-game win streak looming ahead like we saw in 2018? Maybe.
Right now, though, the Texans have to fix the issues that have given the team an 0-3 start.
Here are three reasons the Texans are 0-3:
The Texans have faced three teams with talented run games in the first three games, and they had nothing to shut them down.
In his first start, rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 138 yards and a touchdown, as the Kansas City Chiefs had no trouble dominating the Texans.
Arguably the best rushing attack in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens ran up 230 yards on the Texans with Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins leading the charge.
In Week 3, the Pittsburgh Steelers and James Conner rolled up 169 yards on the Texans. Conner had 109 and a touchdown by himself.
A big reason the Texans can’t stop the run is right in the middle of the defense. Houston, understandably, didn’t want to pay D.J. Reader the $50 million he made with the Cincinnati Bengals in the off season. The Texans needed to extend other players, including offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and quarterback Deshaun Watson.
But without Reader, the Texans are starting Brandon Dunn in the middle, who fits better as a rotational player. Reader played at nearly an All-Pro level last year, and has been replaced by quite literally a replacement level player.
Commit to running the ball
The Texans have one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the NFL but ran no designed runs with Watson.
Watson only had one carry for five yards vs. the Steelers on a scramble. The Texans had leads in the game, but only ran the ball 15 times. They only ran 42 offensive plays total vs. the Steelers and weren’t able to hold on to the ball for long stretches.
If not for Watson’s ability to extend plays, I’m not sure how the Texans score.
The Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson. If they’re going to justify that trade, they have to use Johnson more than for 13 carries, especially when the team is in the lead.
After some improvement to the sack total in 2019 vs. 2018, the Texans are again trending backward in that category.
In 2018, Watson was sacked 62 times. In 2019, the improved offensive line gave up 44 sacks. However, through the first three games, Watson has been sacked 13 times, leaving the Texans on pace to give up roughly 69 sacks this season.
The Texans just paid Watson $160 million. They need to protect their quarterback. Outside of Tunsil, the line has struggled to keep Watson upright. It looks like this could be a problem all season, but the Texans return the whole 2019 line.