Sean Pendergast

The Houston Texans History With 0-3 Starts To The Season

There is very little precedent for a team in the Texans' 0-3 situation accomplishing their overall goals for the season.
There is very little precedent for a team in the Texans' 0-3 situation accomplishing their overall goals for the season. Photo by Eric Sauseda
If you believe the raw statistics, and if you had aspirations of being part of the postseason, the Houston Texans' 2018 season is likely over. The team fell to 0-3 on Sunday following an inexcusable 27-22 loss to the less-hapless-than-the-Texans New York Giants at NRG Stadium.

The numbers are daunting, and here they are, courtesy of

Yes, it looks like it’s over for the NFL’s 0-3 teams as history hasn’t been kind to slow starters. Going way back to 1980, there have been 173 teams to start a season 0-3, with only five of them going on to make the playoffs — a whopping 2.8 percent! If you’re a fan of one of the 0-3 teams and that 2.8 percent number is giving you hope, it shouldn’t. The last team to start 0-3 and make the playoffs was the 1998 Bills, who followed up their 0-3 start with five straight wins.

The Raiders and Cardinals are already three games behind in their division races, so go ahead, tear up those futures tickets and start scouting the upcoming draft class. An argument could be made for the Texans, however, as it’s not inconceivable that they could win their next three games vs the Colts, Cowboys and Bills, while the rest of their schedule isn’t exactly made up of elite contenders.
2.8 percent... YIKES! Not good. Three games in, when the best thing you can hang your hat on is "Hey, at least we're not the Raiders or Cardinals," that is suboptimal. The door is ever so slightly ajar, though, and the next three games are basically of Super Bowl level urgency, if you think the ship can righted. (The belief level is SO low in Bill O'Brien right now, though, that I wouldn't even blame you for sending me the "Are you high, Sean?" email you just started typing.)

Three times before the Texans have begun the season 0-3, which sounds shockingly low for a franchise that has the following profile:

1. They've made the playoffs just four times in 16 previous seasons in team history, and two of those were 9-7 seasons in the downtrodden AFC South.

2. They've had ten sub-.500 seasons, including a couple of 2-14 seasons. (SPOILER ALERT: Only one of them started with three losses.)

3. Prior to this season, the best quarterback in team history was Matt Schaub for, like, three or four seasons, and there had not been a close second.

So, if we are to learn from history, then surely you are curious —  how did those three seasons end?

FIRST THREE GAMES (Final records in parentheses): 22-7 at BUF (5-11), 2707 vs PIT (11-5), 16-10 at CIN (11-5)
This was the season that ultimately undid the Dom Capers Era, a 2-14 debacle coming off a 7-9 season in which the Texans were frisky despite David Carr being their quarterback. The only two wins of the season were over the 6-10 Cleveland Browns and 5-11 Arizona Cardinals. Ultimately, this led to the hiring of Gary Kubiak, Rick Smith, and the drafting of Mario Williams. So there's that. (This Texans team had one of those deplorable Week 3 bye weeks. The league doesn't do bye weeks in Week 3 anymore, thankfully.)

FIRST THREE GAMES (Final records in parentheses): 24-10 vs PHI (10-6), 43-24 at IND (12-4), 31-15 vs WAS (5-11)
The very next season, returning Texan players found themselves in familiar territory, losing the first three games with Gary Kubiak trying to salvage something out of the disastrous selection of David Carr with the team's first ever first round pick. 0-3 turned into 3-8, before Gary Kubiak did what he seemingly did each of his first four seasons — he got hot in December and made everyone think that NEXT season would be the one where the Texans finally arrived. (Kubiak was 14-6 after the end of November his first four seasons as Texans head coach.)

FIRST THREE GAMES (Final records in parentheses): 38-17 vs at PIT (12-4), 31-12 at TEN (13-3), 30-27 at JAC (5-11)
This was the weird season where Hurricane Ike hit in Week 2, which unfortunately was the only home game scheduled in September for the Texans, so they opened with an impromptu Week 2 bye week, which they spent in hurricane mode, far from relaxing. The Week 2 game was moved to Week 10, which was the original bye. The first three games were ALL on the road, and an 0-4 start basically torpedoed the season before the branches were picked up from Ike. Of course, Kubiak did Kubiak things, winning five of his last six, including a win in Green Bay in December and a win over the 13-3 Titans at home.

Of course, for a team with dark horse Super Bowl aspirations heading into the season like the 2018 Texans have, and with a franchise QB, albeit a young one, in place, none of the above scenarios are remotely acceptable, nor should they be.

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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 afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast