One of the most common criticisms I hear about the Texans from outisde fans are that they are "soft." ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky hit on that note again during Sunday's debacle.
"Every team puts up dud now and then. Bad timing for Texans though. Bad games against Cowboys, Giants raise [question] of physicality again."
I don't think that's the real issue here though. The Texans may run a zone blocking scheme and (this year) essentially a Cover 2 defense, which aren't exactly the manliest of football defenses. But between Bernard Pollard, Brian Cushing, Mario Williams, Andre Johnson...they have plenty of big physical players who aren't soft.
No, to me, this comes down to the Texans having a culture without any accountability.
One of Gary Kubiak's most quoted lines is "That's on me," which refers to what happens whenever anything on the field goes wrong. That is on me. Except it's really not, since he's coached here four (and a quarter) years and still has full reign of the entire team. In fact, he was given an extension for blasting through the 8-8 barrier with his mighty 9-7 record last year.To an extent, this comes down from the very top. Bob McNair is a patient owner, and I think that's a damn good trait for someone to have when they run a sports team. But he let Dom Capers go on too long, he let David Carr play quarterback too long, and he let Charlie Casserly draft poorly for too long. There's a fine line between giving someone a fair shake and holding on in the hopes that something changes.
I'm not sure that we've held on too long yet with Kubiak. Mitigating circumstances will always make us look fondly at him, Frank Bush, and Rick Smith to an extent. "At least we're not an embarrassment any more!" is a rallying cry for that. But the little doubts in the back of my mind are starting to creep in. As they've seemed to in 2008 and 2009 as well.
Let's take, for instance, the fact that Amobi Okoye still is playing 70 snaps a game despite how he is contributing nothing to the table asides from the games where he plays a bad offensive guard and gets a pressure or three. Has anyone called Okoye out? Well, the Texans kind of did under the table this offseason. After two-and-a-half years of doing nothing but watching him suck up blocks and do nothing. Did they do anything to try to rectify the problem, say by bringing in other defensive tackles? Not until they drafted Earl Mitchell. Did they sign anyone in free agency to try and keep him fresh? No. Did they bring in a tackle who'd demand attention so that Okoye could at least get one-on-one more often? No.
How about free safety? The Texans have literally never had a free safety worth his salt, exempting the *snicker* "Pro Bowl" play of Will Demps. Have we addressed the issue in any meaningful way? No. Have we brought in any real free agents? No. Have we drafted anyone who should have been expected to make an impact? No.
You can play this game up and down the problems the Texans have had. Frank Bush's zone schemes, Gary Kubiak's lack of awareness of game theory when it comes to the score (lets punt from their 42 down 21!), the fact that this team rarely has an acceptable backup plan for any problem.
If it really is on you, Gary, then fix the problems. Go to a Madden seminar. Trade for someone so that Kareem Jackson can properly learn how to play cornerback on the sidelines and in nickel situations. But I'm not sure that it's you so much as it is the culture around you. The one that is the reason you won't change anything in the first place. What's the point of changing something if there is never any punishment for being wrong?