Sean Pendergast

NFL Week 12: Dolphins 30, Texans 15 — Four Winners, Four Losers

The wheels are coming off for Lovie Smith and the Texans.
The wheels are coming off for Lovie Smith and the Texans. Photo by Jack Gorman
When the Houston Texans' coaching staff (and presumably, the front office, as well) made the decision to swap out Davis Mills and insert Kyle Allen as the team's starting quarterback, the hope was that change at the most important position would equate to change in the Texans' quality of play. Sure, the outcomes of the games might not change, the losses might pile up, but at least the offense might be watchable.

That was the hope, at least. Turns out that Kyle Allen, in terms of output and game flow, is just an older, shorter version of Davis Mills. Stop me if you've heard this story before — the Texans put up near record low offensive numbers in the first half, fall way behind, then pile up meaningless numbers against a disinterested opponent in the second half, only to still lose by double digits.

That was the formula in Week 11 against Washington, in a 23-10 loss where the Texans trailed 20-2 at halftime. This time, the first half numbers looked like this:

PLAYS: Texans 25, Dolphins 44
YARDS: Texans 32, Dolphins 282
FIRST DOWNS: Texans 3, Dolphins 19

The Texans trailed Miami 30-0 at the half, and wound up losing 30-15, in a game where the final score wasn't even remotely indicative of the difference between these two teams. There were winners and losers, let's highlight a few of them:

WINNERS

4. Dare Ogunbowale
One thing that I am simultaneously happy about, and yet infuriated about, is the involvement of Ogunbowale in the Texans' offense. On Sunday, he scored his first touchdown of the season. I am happy Ogunbowale is involved, because he seems like a capable backup, worthy of spelling Dameon Pierce so that Pierce doesn't wind up with 300 carries on an awful team. I am infuriated, because I (along with thousands of other sane Texans fans) have been saying that Ogunbowale deserves carries and touches ahead of Rex Burkhead all season. How does it take this coaching staff three months to figure out something that scrubs like me could decipher after a week of training camp?

3. Maliek Collins
The Texans don't have many difference making football players, particularly along the defensive front, and it's not like Collins is Aaron Donald or anything, but he does flash more than any of his hefty teammates that play up front on defense. On Sunday, Collins had a couple of sacks, and three tackles for loss. That's good enough to get on the good side of the ledger of this article.

2. CFB Playoff committee
Once again, the lack of any real shining stars for the Texans means that we get to give the college game some shine here. After Michigan's win over Ohio State, and USC's win over Notre Dame, both on Saturday (along with expected wins from Georgia and TCU), the College Football Playoff foursome is pretty cut and dried, if all four of those favorites take care of their business on conference title game Saturday. If Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and USC win their games, that will be the playoff field, likely in that order. The selection committee will come under ZERO fire for those selections, which can only mean one thing —- at least two will lose, and there will be complete chaos. We love chaos!

1. Mike McDaniel
I have to admit, I came into this season conditioned to dislike McDaniel, who always seemed like he was trying to be the funniest guy in the room at every press conference. As it turns out, when you go 8-3 and completely rehabilitate the career of a top five pick at quarterback, you become funnier! Also, I loved that McDaniel kept throwing the football in the fourth quarter with his backup quarterback yesterday, even as the Texans were closing the gap on the 30-0 halftime deficit. McDaniel evidently felt like you could give the Texans till Tuesday and they wouldn't score 30 points. Turns out, he was right. His complete lack of respect for Pep Hamilton's offense was warranted and hilarious.

LOSERS

4. Kyle Allen
Allen was hopefully going to bring some juice to the Texans' offense. He did. It was prune juice. His yardage numbers wound up being hollow (215 yards passing, mostly in the second half), and his two interceptions were horrific, one in the first half setting up a short Dolphins touchdown, and one in the fourth quarter ending any drama that may have still existed in this game. As it turns out, the Allen version of the Texans will be just as tough a watch as the Mills version.

3. Russell Wilson
If you're a Texans fan, and you're angry about the state of your franchise, it's understandable. Just be glad that your quarterbacks are disposable, cheap assets, and that your team didn't pay a quarter of a BILLION dollars (and trade away draft picks) for Russell Wilson. Here's how things are going in Denver:
2. Rookie class
The most worrisome thing for me right now is not the losing. I expected this team to lose a lot of games, although admittedly not as many at this point as they have lost. I am most concerned with the fact that there really aren't any rookies who are ascending right now. Derek Stingley is injured. Kenyon Green was benched yesterday. Jalen Pitre is having tackling issues. Christian Harris left the game with  a shoulder injury. Hell, even Dameon Pierce is now bitten by the "Texans rookie backslide" bug, with his second straight game of less than ten yards rushing. This is a HUGE issue, as the draft is supposed to be the way back to relevance for this franchise.

1. Lovie Smith
Again, we knew the Texans would be a bad football team. So when i say that Lovie Smith should be fired, it's not because they are 1-9-1. It's because they are optically worse now than they were at the start of the season. All Lovie needed to do, in my mind, this season was make sure you're not a laughing stock. Lose games with dignity. This team has now had three games in the last month where they've had 35 yards or less at halftime. On top of that, Lovie is coming apart at the seams at the podium:
Prediction — Lovie Smith snaps at some point. He is not handling losing well, but the problem is his coaching is a huge reason they're losing so badly. Catch 22!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast