Finally. It took weeks of torture, but the long, slow, painful death of the Houston Texans' 2012-13 season mercifully came to a close on Sunday. Fittingly, it ended at the hands of the former Houston Oilers -- in the same year that its former icons Bud Adams and Bum Phillips died within mere days of one another, and Phillips's son had the reins of the current Houston team -- in unceremonious fashion 16-10 in Nashville.
Despite a surprisingly strong start, the Texans fell back on what they knew, namely turning the ball over and not forcing turnovers of their own to match. Appropriately, the final play of the year for the Texans was a Matt Schaub interception, a perfect ending to a remarkably pitiful season. Now, changes are on the horizon for this team. A new coach -- probably Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who is rumored to be the frontrunner -- a new quarterback (be he veteran or rookie) and a whole host of other changes will be in place by the time training camp opens next summer.
With the loss, the Texans secured the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft and now speculation begins as to whether they will take a quarterback or a pass rusher or trade out of the spot and look for a veteran QB to fill the gaping void left by Schaub's disastrous implosion. But there was a game played on Sunday...
What went right: It ended. After all the terrible plays, the poor clock management decisions, the penalties, the picks six, the injuries and the changes -- on the roster and on the coaching staff -- some higher power decided it was finally time to end it all...and it was done in just over two and a half hours. It was the best Christmas gift fans could get.
What went wrong: Turnovers As has been the case all season, the Texans gave the ball away too many times and didn't take it away nearly enough. Schaub threw two interceptions -- one on a deflection that should have been caught -- and fumbled the snap that gave the ball back to Tennessee in Texans territory.
What must improve: Coaching It has been a VERY bad season for coaching and that continued on Sunday with bizarre clock management issues and ultra-conservative play calling, something that seems completely out of place on a team that was 2-13 going into the game and literally had nothing to lose. Something has got to change with this franchise and it starts with the coach.
What should stay the same: Energy One positive to take out of this debacle is the fact that players on this team continued to play hard even when there was no reason to do so. That shows some character, and they'll need it going into one of the most pivotal offseasons in franchise history. Unfortunately, players did not play smart, but the effort certainly was there. What did we learn from the game? Despite all the harping on penalties and the bringing referees to practice, the Texans remained an undisciplined lot on Sunday. They only had five penalties for 55 yards, but those came at critical times that stalled or extended drives. The team has played hard, but it does not play smart and those penalties cost them all season long.
What do we never want to see/hear again? "And Schaub's pass is picked off." I've heard it so many times this year, it haunts my dreams. Up until this season, Schaub was a mostly reliable quarterback. He may not have been dynamic, but he didn't make mistakes. His complete collapse this year was at the root of the problems for the Texans.
Key Moment of the Game The fumbled snap might qualify, but I just can't ignore the final play from scrimmage by the Texans. With under two minutes to play and the Texans starting with the ball inside their own 10 yard line, Schaub dropped back to pass, threw it deep down the seam and watched it float right into the hands of a Titans defensive back. It was a disturbingly fitting end to an awful season.
Game Balls: Jonathan Grimes After losing four running backs to injury this season, the Texans were down to short-term signees and practice squad players. Grimes came in and gained over 100 yards on offense, including a touchdown run. It was one bright spot in what was otherwise a "thank God it's finally over" game for Houston.
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Goat of the Week: Wade Phillips Seriously, coach. You kicked a field goal on fourth down and goal with the team down six? You'd lost 13 straight. If there was ever a time to throw caution to the wind, this was it.
Random thought of the week: It's over. I can't believe it. It's finally over.
Next Up: The Texans are on the clock... With the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select...? Right now, odds are on a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater, but don't be surprised if they go defense or maybe even trade out of the pick. The speculation will start immediately and heat up once a coach is hired.