HOUSTON — Another lopsided loss on the road has the Houston Texans searching for ways to jumpstart their stalled offense.
The Texans fell to 3-2 with a 31-13 loss at the undefeated Vikings on Sunday in a game that illustrated that quarterback Brock Osweiler has plenty of room for improvement.
“I need to play better,” he said. “I need to do my job better, and as an entire team we need to play better.”
Osweiler isn’t off to a great start in his first season in Houston after the Texans lured him away from Denver this offseason with a massive $72 million contract. He’s thrown seven interceptions and just six touchdown passes.
His seven interceptions are tied with Ryan Tannehill for third-most in the league behind former Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 10 and Jameis Winston, who has eight entering Monday night.
Osweiler leads an offense that ranks 29th in the NFL by averaging just 208.6 yards passing a game. Houston’s offense was terrible on third downs on Sunday, converting just one of 13 opportunities. Osweiler often seemed frazzled in the pocket and once bounced a short pass to a wide open receiver.
Of course, the quarterback isn’t the only one to blame for Houston’s woes. He’s playing behind a line that allowed four sacks on Sunday and that let him be hit 13 times against the Vikings.
Despite Osweiler’s struggles, coach Bill O’Brien refused to criticize him, instead taking the blame for the team’s poor performance.
“I think overall I’ve been happy with the way the guy has prepared, haven’t been happy with the way the offense has played, not blaming it on anybody, except right here,” O’Brien said pointing at himself.
O’Brien also didn’t blame the line for not protecting Osweiler better, claiming that the excessive number of hits he took were because he didn’t call the right plays.
Another area of concern for this offense is that Osweiler failed to get the ball to star receiver DeAndre Hopkins enough to impact the game. Hopkins had a touchdown late on Sunday, but it was after the game was already out of hand.
He finished with five receptions for 56 yards, but had no receptions at halftime. This came a week after Hopkins was limited to one catch for 4 yards in a win over the Titans.
“Didn’t get involved until late (Sunday), we need to do that earlier obviously,” O’Brien said. “We know what a player he is … and so we’re going to work really hard to try to figure out how to get him the ball more often.”
Hopkins was asked about the struggles of the offense on Monday and how they can correct things to improve this week. He was unusually short in his response to this question and all other queries thrown his way.
“Working every day,” he said. “Nobody’s perfect.”
It’s clear that teams focus on limiting Hopkins every week and often double team him. Despite that, Osweiler knows that he has to do a better job of getting the ball to both him and rookie Will Fuller , who was held to one reception for 4 yards against Minnesota.
“The bottom line, if the receivers are not getting the ball, who is the first person you need to look at? It is me,” Osweiler said.
“I need to play better and I need to find a way, regardless of what the defense is doing, to get those guys the football.”
As bleak as things looked on Sunday, the Texans still lead the AFC South , and a win against the Colts would push their cushion to two games against Indy in the division.
“We’ve got a lot of good things ahead of us if we can correct a lot of these things,” O’Brien said.