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Houston looks to improve sputtering offense after loss

November 29, 2021 GMT
Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) plays against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) plays against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
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Houston Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) plays against the Tennessee Titans in the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans won’t be making any offensive changes this week despite a terrible performance after halftime in a 21-14 loss to the New York Jets Sunday.

Coach David Culley was adamant Monday that offensive coordinator Tim Kelly would continue to call plays and Tyrod Taylor would remain the team’s starting quarterback. His support for the two comes a day after Houston (2-9) was shut out after halftime and gained just 45 yards in the last two quarters of the loss to another one of the league’s worst teams.

“That’s not even a question about Tim being the play caller,” Culley said when asked if a change should be made. “We’ve got to play better. It has nothing to do with the play call. It has something to do with us playing better and doing things the right way.”

He was later asked if there was a chance rookie Davis Mills would play again this year, and Culley said that would only happen if Taylor was injured again. Mills did not fare well when he filled in this season when Taylor injured his hamstring, going 0-6 with eight interceptions and seven touchdowns.

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Taylor has started in both of Houston’s wins, a victory in the opener against Jacksonville and an upset at Tennessee last week. The veteran had an up-and-down performance against the Jets. He had an interception early before throwing two touchdown passes in the second quarter to give the Texans a 14-3 lead.

He and the Texans couldn’t get anything going after halftime as the Jets rallied for the victory.

“In the first half we had back-to-back drives where we scored a touchdown because we executed,” Culley said. “In the second half ... there were times when guys were off a play here, a play there. They didn’t do the right thing and it got us behind the sticks. When we get behind the sticks, it’s tough for us to come back.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Not much is working on this dreadful team that took a step back Sunday, one week after its big win over the Titans. Houston ranks 32nd in total offense and the defense isn’t much better ranking 29th.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

There is plenty to pick from here, but Culley has preached all season the importance of limiting penalties at critical moments. The Texans went out Sunday and drew flags on consecutive plays that helped the Jets take the lead.

Both of those penalties were committed by defensive tackle Ross Blacklock. The first came when he got a leverage call on a field goal attempt to give the Jets a first down at the 8. Zach Wilson was sacked for a loss of 6 on the next play, but Blacklock was offside to give the Jets a first down at the 4. Wilson scrambled for the score on the next play to put New York on top.

Culley said he was “very disappointed” with the penalties and that his team has to stop making such mistakes.

STOCK UP

DB Tavierre Thomas had his first career interception Sunday when he picked off a pass from Wilson in the first quarter.

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STOCK DOWN

Safety Justin Reid, the team’s top defensive player, was suspended for Sunday’s game for a violation of team rules. Culley wouldn’t say exactly what led to the suspension but discussed the situation in broad terms.

“We have rules, and we have standards here,” he said. “I just felt like last week in that particular situation, he didn’t meet those standards, and when that happens, I made a decision.”

He said there would be discussions of Reid’s situation on Monday and determine if he’ll return this week.

INJURED

OL Justin Britt could return after missing four games with a knee injury. He returned to practice on a limited basis last week but Culley said he wasn’t quite ready to play. ... LT Laremy Tunsil is still recovering after having surgery on his left thumb Oct. 14. The Texans remain hopeful he can return this season.

KEY NUMBER

7 — The interception by Thomas gave Houston seven interceptions in the last three games, which is a franchise record for such a span.

NEXT STEPS

While standing behind Kelly, Culley said that everyone needs to do more to get the offense on track.

“When we call a play, the guys got to do the right thing,” he said. “Sometimes when the focus is not right in certain situations — and it usually happens with us after a negative play — the thing we have to be able to do is have that next-play mentality, and not allow the bad play that happened before to interfere with what’s happening going forward.”

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