Houston Texans Week 9 Recap: Foster\’s Feats Wasted as Questionable Coaching Leads to Season-Defining Loss to Chargers

The much-hyped Houston Texans are again a .500 team after letting the struggling San Diego Chargers come from behind to beat them at home.  Texans running back Arian Foster was nearly unstoppable, but questionable coaching decisions from Gary Kubiak and a freak game-ending interception gave Houston a season-defining loss.

What Went Right

Arian Foster is arguably the best running back in the NFL.  The undrafted former practice squad member totaled nearly 200 all-purpose yards and was nearly unstoppable.  He has amazing field vision with an uncanny ability to see every opening and stop on a dime to cut to each hole.  He breaks tackles and throws caution to the wind, diving to gain as many extra yards as he can.  He finished the day with two touchdowns, but should\’ve had a third if not for the terrible officiating that took it away based on the “Calvin Johnson rule.”

What Went Wrong

Texans fans should be talking about how amazing Arian Foster is, but instead, his performance is overshadowed by the Texans\’ heart-breaking loss.  The defense was terrible, blah, blah, blah, broken record, blah, blah, blah.  At this point in the season, it\’s not even worth discussing how bad the defense is.  However, the Texans could have easily overcome their defensive deficiencies if not for horrendous coaching decisions from Gary Kubiak.

The game started so well for the Texans.  They blocked a punt on the Chargers\’ first possession and Foster easily ran for a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage.  Then, the team jumped on Foster\’s back as he carried them to a lead going into halftime.  However, in the second half, Kubiack for some reason decided to take the ball out of Foster\’s hands and start airing it out with Matt Schaub.

Schaub looked extremely uncomfortable and routinely threw behind and over his receivers, like he has for most of this season.  He simply isn\’t getting rid of the ball quickly enough, often hesitating to pass and unsuccessfully scrambling and throwing on the run.  The offensive line may not be giving him adequate protection, but their blocking hasn\’t hindered Foster.

To exacerbate the situation, Schaub\’s hesitation led to a sack that sent him to the locker room holding his ribs.  He returned without missing a snap and immediately started chunking the ball over receivers\’ heads.  Coach Kubiak had an unstoppable running back and an injured, inefficient quarterback, yet opted to let the quarterback take over.  The Texans weren\’t in a situation where they had to pass, but Kubiack took the ball out of his hottest player\’s hands.

When Foster finally touched the ball in the fourth quarter, he broke for a 33-yard gain and set the Texans up to tie the game.  But, Andre Johnson showed that he is actually human and booted a pass into the hands of the Chargers to end the game.  Johnson hardly ever makes mistakes, but this was a big one.

In addition, on the first possession of the third quarter, Foster ran the ball downfield into scoring range, only to be lifted for Derrick Ward, who stumbled through a couple of carries that forced a field goal.  Why wasn\’t Foster back in the game after taking a quick breather?  We still don\’t know the full details behind why Foster was benched for a half against Oakland and it seems Kubiak either has something against him or is just completely incompetent.

Turning Point

Speaking of Kubiak potentially being incompetent, there aren\’t too many coaches who make worse play calls on fourth down.  Down by two in the fourth quarter, Kubiack went for it on fourth down instead of kicking a field goal.  They were unsuccessful, but a Phillip Rivers interception on the ensuing possession made up for it.

However, Kubiak\’s fourth down dementia set in again and ultimately cost the Texans the game.  On a 4th and 1, Kubiak called a hurried quarterback sneak with the injured Schaub getting stopped and turning the ball over.  Yes, that play wouldn\’t have been necessary if not for the terrible intentional grounding call, but with a time out to spare in such a crucial situation, Kubiak should\’ve given his offensive line time to get set or, at the very least, called a play for someone who isn\’t holding his side in pain.

Work On It

The Texans needed this game.  While they\’re still mathematically playoff-eligible, this defeat, coming on the heels of their defeat by the Colts, has to crush the team\’s confidence.  After a brilliant start, the Texans are fading fast and must boost their morale if they\’re going to mount a late-season resurgence.  As of now, the Texans are a .500 football team – a record Houston fans hoped they\’d seen the last of – and the more the season progresses, the more the Texans look like an average team.  The Texans should\’ve won this game, but the outcome may actually define who the 2010  Texans really are.

Numerical Indications of Athletic Achievement

Schaub: 21/32, 266 yds, 1 INT

Foster: 27 rush, 127 yds, 2 TD, 4 rec, 70 yds

Johnson: 4 rec, 41 yds

Rackers: 3/3 FG, 2/2 XP

M. Williams: 2 tkl, 1 sack

K. Jackson: 5 tkl, 1 INT