In a terribly disappointing season for the Texans' defense, its second-half collapse at Denver Sunday may take the cake.
Houston allowed 290 yards and 24 points in the final 30 minutes of a 24-23 loss to the Broncos. Rookie QB Tim Tebow, making just his second career start, riddled the Texans' pass defense in the second half, throwing for 208 yards and a TD. Tebow scored the eventual game-winning TD with 3:02 left on a six-yard scramble off left end. In all, Tebow led scoring drives of 80, 71, 74 and 76 yards in the final two quarters as Denver overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit.
"We didn't stop them one time in the second half," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. "The kid (Tebow) made a lot of great plays.
The loss was the Texans' eighth in nine games and dropped Houston to 5-10 on the season. The defeat further intensified the focus on Kubiak's job security. Inconsistency has dogged the Texans, with slow starts a persistent problem. On Sunday, though, they could not hold a 17-point lead against a team led by a rookie quarterback, which is a pretty good indicator of their defensive woes.
The PFW spin
Even if Kubiak returns in 2011, it seems unlikely that the Texans would not make sweeping defensive changes, with coordinator Frank Bush's job security beyond this season in question. While Bush's defense made significant improvement after a slow start last season, and while injuries have surely hampered the "D" in 2010, the Texans' persistent problems vs. the pass have cost them dearly this year. The Texans are allowing 277.1 passing yards per game and 7.56 yards per pass play, both NFL worsts. They have also allowed 32 TDs, which is tied for worst in the league.
Addressing the secondary must be the Texans' top offseason priority. The Texans took a risk by allowing CB Dunta Robinson to leave in free agency, and it backfired when rookie Kareem Jackson couldn't adequately replace him. Making matters worse, SS Bernard Pollard and LCB Glover Quin haven't played as well as they did last season. The Texans are also likely to start over at free safety, with second-year pro Troy Nolan starting in place of Eugene Wilson on Sunday.
But the Texans' defensive issues don't stop there. While DE Mario Williams, MLB DeMeco Ryans and SLB Brian Cushing are a nice trio to build around in the front seven, another playmaker or two — especially someone who can bolster the pass rush — would help. Also, the depth along the defensive line and at linebacker could stand to improve.
From a personnel standpoint, the Texans will enter the offseason with the Williams-Ryans-Cushing trio a group they can believe in and plenty of questions otherwise on defense, one that was powerless to stop whatever Tebow and Co. ran in the second half Sunday.