Finishing games is still a concern

After two days of reflection following the Texans’ 16-9 loss to the Broncos on Sunday, not much had changed when some players spoke to members of the press on Tuesday.

That hasn’t happened for the first two weeks of the 2022 season. In the first, second and third quarters, the Texans (0-1-1) are outscoring their opponents 29-9. But in the fourth quarter, the opponents changed the script, outscoring them 27-0.

“We have the talent,” defensive end Jonathan Greenard said. “It’s just a matter of finishing those plays and understanding that we have to find him. There is no magic in it. We just have to literally put our heads down and work.”

Honestly, if the Texans had made just one or two more plays, they would be 2-0 entering their Week 3 matchup with the Bears (1-1) and leading the AFC South by a half game. Instead, they are 0-1-1, a half game behind the Jaguars.

Both sides of football bear some guilt. In the Texans’ Week 2 loss to the Broncos, the defense had Russell Wilson and company in a third-and-16 situation early in the fourth quarter. If they had made the stop, the momentum would have continued in their direction. Instead, Courtland Sutton found a hole in the Texans’ coverage 2 defense, and Wilson hit him for a 35-yard pass play. That led to the go-ahead touchdown for the Broncos.

“A lot of times with coverage 2, you put one guy short and one guy deep,” coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “In that third-and-16 situation, we moved them back. That’s not a play that should have happened. I will say one of the biggest disappointments of that game was that play.”

The Houston Chronicle’s Brooks Kubena discusses the Texans’ offensive struggles in the Week 2 loss at Denver. Video: Houston Chronicle

But it’s the offense that has held the Texans back the most.

At the forefront of those fourth quarter struggles has been the passing game. Quarterback Davis Mills is 5-for-16 (31.3 percent) in the fourth quarter and has been sacked three times. His fourth quarter passer rating through two games is 47.7.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast to how he played during his rookie season.

In 13 games during his rookie season, Mills completed 64.9 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter and threw for seven touchdowns on four interceptions. His passer rating in the fourth quarter was 88.5.

There are times this season when he has made inaccurate shots and times when receivers have been in a place Mills didn’t expect.

Regardless, the offense needs to improve.

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks was attacked 10 times last week, but only had four catches. Nico Collins was attacked nine times and had four catches.

Sunday’s game could be one of his best chances to turn things around. The Bears rank last in the NFL in total offense, averaging 216 yards per game. Their offense doesn’t stay on the field much. And, like the Texans, they are averaging 14.5 points per game.

“I feel like we just need to finish in the fourth quarter,” Collins said. “Fourth quarters, that’s a lot of football. We haven’t done so well in the last quarter, but I feel like it’s a long season and we’re going to improve on that.”

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