The NFL's television ratings are down this season. There are some who blame that on the anthem protests.
Others about the game being sissified. Some would tell you it's because of too many commercials leading to too many TD-commercial break- replay review-commercial break-extra point-commercial break-kickoff downed in the end zone-commercial break sequences.
But I posit a simpler explanation: Some idiot in the NFL scheduling office thought it was a good idea to stick five Texans games on the NFL's prime time Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night showcases.
The Texans are everything that is wrong with professional football. It's a mediocre organization that appears perfectly fine with being mediocre. And why not? Every game is sold out and the team gets the same amount of media revenue as the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys. The Texans play in the Conference USA of NFL divisions, meaning that 8-8 is probably a good enough record for the playoffs. So why bother improving if mediocre is good enough?
It'a a team that does nothing particularly better than any other team. Quarterback Brock Osweiler is one of the worst in the NFL, but the Texans always have bad quarterbacks. The running game is so-so, on those few occasions when the Texans decide to run. The defense is good, but there’s only so much it can do in a game. The Texans possess one of the best wide receivers in the game, yet keeps sticking him with pitiful excuses for quarterbacks. And the team’s best player is a once-in-a-lifetime defensive lineman who finds himself playing backfield in the wildcat, and at times tight end, because the head coach isn't competent to come up with a working red zone offense — of course, now with J.J. Watt hurt, the red zone offense is particularly bad.
The Texans lost on Monday night to the Denver Broncos by a 27-9 score. Neither offense did that much — the Texans only gained 271 yards for the game and only made it into the red zone once. Osweiler was a pathetic 22-for-42 for 131 yards on the night, though that wasn't that much worse than Denver's Trevor Siemian who was 14-for-25 for 157 yards. It was a boring game that nobody outside Denver or Houston should have watched.
This followed up a Sunday night snooze fest between the Cardinals and Seahawks that ended in a 6-6 tie after both kickers missed easy field goals in overtime. The game's only other excitement came from NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth trying to out the rule book difference between contact and land after a controversial field goal block.
The Monday Night Football's ratings for the Texans were down 14 percent from this time last year, and down 17 percent from two seasons ago. They were the lowest ratings since 2012, and that 2012 game was up against a presidential debate and game seven of a MLB playoff series. The Sunday Night Football ratings also took a big hit, and the Thursday Night games, which last night featured the Titans and Jaguars (why are any of these two teams allowed in prime time) have also taken big hits.
People can blame players protesting the anthems. They can say the game is not as rough as it used to be. But the ratings are down because the games are bad. And the games are bad because most teams in the NFL are like the Texans, mediocre, poorly run franchises that keep trying to convince fans that Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Fitzgerald, Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, whoever the QB of the week of the Browns is, et cetera are the next Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Nobody wants to the watch the Tannehill-led Dolphins lose to the Dalton-led Bengals. Just like nobody wants to watch Osweiler's Texans lose to Siemian's Broncos. Yet the NFL keeps scheduling these games for prime time, so fewer and fewer people watch.
The NFL has always been full of .500 teams like the Texans. But it's only in the past few years that the league has insisted on showcasing such teams over and over in primetime. The viewing public doesn't want to watch the Texans play in a nationally televised game five times a year. Or the Jets and Giants (both who have five). They sure don't want to watch the Titans and Jaguars. So putting these teams in prime time has to stop.
Once the prime time games are better, the ratings will start to improve. Just playing a football game on a Thursday night isn’t enough. The viewing public has to have a reason to watch, and there’s absolutely no reason for a national audience to want to ever watch the Houston Texans play football.