Week 1 with a new quarterback. Is there anything more hopeful than a team going into the season with a quarterback who earned his way into the lineup with an open competition? Never mind that he barely won the competition over the guy now holding the clipboard. Never mind how the guy actually performed when he played for the Browns. No. forget that. Mute the uncertain voice down to a buzz. At least for now. This is the coach's guy! Let's go! Game 1!
[Note: I'm kinda finding my way on this game writeup stuff. This one is going to be a bit more wordy than I intended, but there it is. --l]
The first drive had a couple of concerning pieces for Houston on defense. Nothing major, but Jonathan Joseph looked like what he was: a player who hadn't played at all in the preseason. Still, as the Chiefs got to near midfield, Jared Crick made a couple of plays and Whitney Mercilus made another, and the Texans got the ball inside the ten yard line.
One play. One play on offense was all the Texans got as Hoyer channeled his inner Matt Schaub.
Quite often, I can figure out a quarterback's decision-making process, what leads him to the thing he does. In honesty, I'm probably wrong, but I can at least make a guess with some level of confidence. I bet, if you were able to remove the identities from the game tape, Brian Hoyer would look at that video and be completely unable to tell you what that guy was thinking. He made some sort of blind fade-away pass straight to a Chiefs' player, and the Texans' drive was over.
The Chiefs didn't turn their noses up at this gift, and within a couple of plays, it was 7-0 Chiefs.
The Texans didn't make much of their next drive, but at least they didn't turn it over. Unfortunately, the improved field position didn't make much of a difference, and the Chiefs scored on that drive too, thanks to a wide open Travis Kelce.
The Texans made something of themselves on the following drive, when they put it in the end-zone, but Randy Bullock, clubhouse-leader of the "Why exactly is he still on teh team?" competition coming into the season, missed on the now-longer extra point.
On a drive that verified that Kelce is a beast, and that they were totally justified in paying Jeremy Maclin, the Texans managed to hold the Chiefs to a field goal.
Hoyer had some really non-stellar drives, one with head-scratching throws and a punt that led to another KC field goal, and then a fumble by Hoyer which was followed up by a one-play drive into the end-zone. The team traded three-and-outs then Houston got a field goal on their last drive before the halftime whistle. Remember when it used to be the halftime gun? Neither do I, but I do remember when they used that as a joke on a Goofy cartoon, so I suppose it must have been at some point.
HALFTIME: KC 27, HOU 9
Houston received the ball to start the second half, and some questionable hands on the part of the receivers led to a three-and-out. The defense was up to the task, though, forcing a punt as well.
3-and-outs and punts dominated the second half as both teams struggled to score. Eventually, it looked like O'Brian had enough of the futility on an intentional grounding call, since he went Full-Kubiak and called a draw play on third and a mile.
Strong defense got the Texans the ball back with something like 7 minutes left, and down by 18. Suspicions about O'Brian's patience with Hoyer were confirmed when the enigmatic Ryan Mallett took the reins. I will let my notes from the game tell the story of the following drive:
Mallett. Zip! Zip! Good throws with 5 minutes left, down by 18... TD! 2PT!
Exciting. And just enough time left so the argument could be made it wasn't garbage-time.
The defense stopped the Chiefs again, and Mallett drove them into scoring range again. A couple of WTF throws, though, meant they had to settle for a field goal. No biggie, since they needed two scores anyway. Except the kicker was Randy "weak year for kickers" Bullock, and the field goal was 47 yards. Still, the ball made it through the uprights, providing a little bit of drama with a doinker off the inside of the left upright. Within 7 points! One score! Not enough time, though, and no timeouts. So, the game ended on an anticlimactic note, with the Chiefs taking a knee or two and running the clock out.
FINAL: Kansas City 27, Houston 20.
There really isn't anything to pin on the defense in this game. There was the one drive where Kansas City scored on a play where Kelce was running wide open, but that was about it. They really clamped it down in the second half, completely shutting out the other team.
I won't say that Hoyer was complete garbage. He showed some flashes. Mallett looked like the man against a defense that was trying to hold onto a lead. Maybe I'm damning him with faint praise, but that was a lot more than Hoyer whose flashes were not nearly enough to balance out HANDING THE OTHER TEAM 14 POINTS. You're supposed to be the SMART quarterback, the one who manages the game and doesn't do stupid things. If you use your brain, for Christ's sake, maybe sneak a quick score in there somewhere, and the defense gives you this game.
2015 Texans after Week 1: 0-1
Up next: have fun trying to stop Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.