What if the 2013 Houston Texans went 0-16?

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The 2013 Houston Texans: An inglorious end to what many thought would be a golden age for the franchise and the city’s future of professional football.

After back-to-back division titles and appearances in the Division Round, the Texans looked set to remain a permanent playoff contender. The roster was missing many apparent holes, and more than a few preseason predictors saw the Texans not just make it to the Super Bowl, but win it. Then the season started.

The Texans succeeded for the 4e consecutive season to start 2-0, although both wins required a major/4 second halfe quarter returns. After a brutal loss in Baltimore, the team returned to Houston to face the Seattle Seahawks. Most would point to this game when the season fell apart. In particular, the grueling, franchise-altering six-pick pick thrown by Matt Schaub at Richard Sherman that all but ended the game, sending the team into a nightmarish 14-game losing streak.

Schaub and Kubiak suffered injuries, scorn from fans and, in Schaub’s case, open scorn from teammates. Kubiak wouldn’t last the season, being fired just after the Texans were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Schuab had left after the end of the season. Wade Phillips went from defensive coordinator to interim head coach out of work at the end of the year.

There have been other counterfactuals, looking at what would happen if Schaub hadn’t thrown that pick six at Sherman. It’s possible that a 3-1 record against a 2-2 start could have stabilized the team and avoided the collapse that so ruined the team. However, it should be noted that if not for a franchise-record comeback against San Diego and an equally remarkable 4e back to quarterback against Tennessee, the Texans might have done what only the 2008 Lions had managed to do: an 0-16 season.

At 2-14, the team still finished last in the league and ended up with the No. 1 pick (as well as a spot with the 2013 Houston Astros for the Bum Steer(s) not so coveted of the year. from Texas Monthly). Going from competitor to last dead is bad enough and an embarrassment to the franchise and the city. However, how close did this team come to the ultimate embarrassment of a winless, tieless season?

What damage could this man have caused… if he had remained standing?
Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

Game 1: Houston @ San Diego: The final game of NFL Opening Week, the Texans didn’t get off to a good start. San Diego, with its own playoff aspirations, capitalized on its home court advantage to take a 28-7 lead, helped in large part by a Matt Schaub interception on the game’s opener. Before this game, the Texans had never managed to overcome such a deficit. There was the near miss of 2007, when Houston overcame a 25-point lead over the Titans, only to lose in the final game. However, teams usually don’t win most games when down 21 in the second half, especially on the road to a good team. Still, the Texans managed to claw their way back, sealed with a winning FG as time expired to win 31-28.

While many might point to the 4th quarter personal foul in San Diego where they brutalized Houston’s center on a FG attempt, replacing a 28-17 San Diego lead with a Texans TD and shaker advantage 28-21, as turning point. Yet this author turns to the 3rd quarter, when the Chargers, returning the kickoff after the Texans scored to cut the lead to 28-14, saw kick returner Fozzy Whittaker , take said kickoff and have found a clear field to run . He had just crossed his own 30-yard line when a missed tackle tripped him, forcing a summer jump and allowing the Texans’ kicking coverage to catch him and giving the ball to the Chargers just inside. inside the Chargers 40-yard line. .

What if Whittaker is able to maintain his balance? Given that coverage was still behind him, the Chargers kick returner could have gotten at least 10 more yards. It’s possible that Whittaker went past cover, especially if he was able to shake off the last man. If so, the Chargers extend the lead to 35-14 with about 4:40 to go in the 3rd quarter. If Whittaker is stopped before the end zone, the Chargers are in a much better position on the field. Maybe they’re still going to three, but with a better field position, especially if the Chargers are on the Texans side, so maybe this game doesn’t end as a big Texans comeback, but a “quality” victory. for chargers.

Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Cut it close on this run, right?
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Game 2: Tennessee @ Houston: Houston’s home opener. While Houston was the favorite in this game, the game turned into another back-and-forth with a division rival.

At one point, Houston was leading 16-10 in the 4e trimester. Then, within 90 seconds, the game changed. The Titans took a 17-16 lead on a pass from Locker TD. The next possession, Schaub would serve a pick-6, and Tennessee went up 24-16, stunning the home crowd.

Houston would rally, and with less than 1:40 left, the Texans found the endzone on Arian Foster’s legs. Foster then ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion to tie the game. The Texans could have won at the end of regulation, but they couldn’t convert the game-winning FG. They would at least end the game in overtime on a TD from Schaub to Hopkins and a 30-24 breakout.

This game should not have been reduced to a return of the Texans. However, the Texans found themselves behind by eight with just over five minutes to play. The 6-point touchdown came with 1:34 left in the game. While it’s no surprise that Houston is counting on Arian Foster to assist in the two-point conversion to tie, such a move isn’t a certainty. If Foster hasn’t converted the two-point run, Houston needs to go for the onside kick. Considering the digs on the side, the Titans likely end up with the ball. While the Titans go three-and-one when tied and forced to move the ball downfield, a Titans team with a two-point lead will handle the situation much differently. Barring a miracle, the Titans come out of Reliant with the win, and Super Bowl favorites Houston look the barrel of an 0-2 start.

If either of these games develops differently, most likely given the circumstances and percentages, and everything else stays the same, then you have a roadmap to a winless season. It’s possible that in the alternate timeline the Texans would somehow hold on to some of their multiple halftime leads and avoid the chicken egg, but the way the season played out showed that the last team of the Kubiak era was fatally flawed.

Also, the list may not have been as solid as it seemed. In his podcast, Arian Foster and his former teammate Andre Johnson discussed their time at the 2013 Texans. players had to leave. He informed then-general manager Rick Smith of the problem, but Smith did nothing.

While some players, mostly three rookies, were fired from roster mid-season, most players who started 2013 with high expectations stayed on a team with the first draft pick at the end. Injuries played a major role, with 21 players in IR at the end of the year, but a playoff-caliber team like Houston shouldn’t have fallen this far, this fast, unless there was something really, really wrong.

Assuming that timeline happened and the Texans went 0-16, what would have been the end result? Much remains the same.

Kubiak and Schaub are gone, with Kubiak likely fired before Week 13. Kubiak isn’t out of work long, but would he still get a head coaching job if he was the main leader of a winless team? The Texans still get the No. 1 pick and likely still the draft pick of Jadeveon Clowney. They still have first dibs on a new coach, and it’s likely they’ll still end up with Bill O’Brien.

Yet, what about General Manager Rick Smith? Perhaps he still remains. After all, if Bob McNair hadn’t fired Smith after going 2-14, would two more losses make such a big difference? Then again, 0-16 is a mark of shame, and even a patient man like Bob McNair didn’t like that kind of embarrassment. Smith’s close ties to McNair would likely keep him in the organization, but the team would look long and hard at anything football-related and Rick Smith would be under the microscope. If Smith is retained as GM, then he returns as GM under the most fire. The Texans should at least secure a winning season.

The 2013 season could have taken two different paths. Maybe it was just that win to course correct and the team at least qualified for the playoffs. Or the team is doing the wrong kind of story. Still, the team, regardless of the schedule, had run its course with Kubiak and Schaub. It was time to place a new order in Houston.

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