Standing at the podium Monday afternoon, Texans coach David Culley didn’t mince words when asked about his own personal self evaluation.
When you’re coaching a 1-8 team on an eight-game losing streak that’s plagued by penalties, turnovers, a nonexistent running game and plenty of injuries to add to a bleak equation, it’s hard to find a lot of positives.
Accountability is the watchword for Culley.
"I’ve got to do a better job," Culley said during a press conference at NRG Stadium. "When you’re 1-8, you’ve got to do a much better job of that, and that trickles all the way down to my coaches and to the players.
“Well, I haven’t gotten across about turnovers and the penalties and I’ve got to do a better job of that. There’s going to be a relentless effort from me and on down to our staff to making sure that we do a much better job of doing that, because those are the two things that are keeping us from doing what we need to do.”
The Texans’ self-scouting didn’t provide any special revelations about what’s been impacting their offense and defense.
The film and the statistics tell a recurring story of too many mistakes not balanced by enough big plays or consistent production to override those miscues. The Texans are the lowest scoring offense in the NFL and rank last in yards gained. Defensively, the Texans are 30th overall, 29th in points allowed and 31st in rushing defense.
Culley was asked what is his message to the fans and to the players going forward after a rough first half of the season in his first season as a head coach at any level.
"We’re going to play better," Culley said. "Our football team is going to play better. The big message to our football team is we’ve got to be a smarter football team. We’ve got to play better, and I think with all the stuff that we’ve done during the self-scout, that you’ll end up seeing us doing that.”
The Texans rank 26th in the NFL in penalties per game with an average of 7.2 per contest with opponents committing an average of 5.0 per game, tying the AFC South franchise with the Chicago Bears for 30th overall in opponents’ penalties.
The Texans are 23rd in the NFL with 61.3 yards in penalties per game.
Tight end Pharaoh Brown and offensive guard Tytus Howard are tied for first on the Texans with five penalties apiece followed by defensive tackle Maliek Collins, tight end Jordan Akins, center Justin Britt and left offensive tackle Geron Christian Sr with four penalties each.
The Texans are tied for 21st in turnover margin with a minus-3 ratio.
"We self-evaluated everything, offense, defensive and special teams," Culley said. "The reason you do that is because after nine ball games you kind of get to see exactly what you are and who are? What we found out during that time was, 'What have you been doing well? The things that you haven’t been doing well, eliminate those things regardless of how we felt these plays would work. They weren’t working. They weren’t very good. What we found out is when you go back and look at the things you doing well, we want to do more of those things now in the run game and the pass game. The other thing about that is when you look and see what that is, you sit here and you say, ‘We have to get better at those things.’
"Now, what’s been hid through all the good things we’ve been doing, especially offensively, is the penalties and the turnovers. Moving forward, we have to have a relentless effort in practice from our coaches, our players, every play, every practice, every meeting, of doing things the right way. You eliminate those things and you see the reason the good things get blinded because of us having bad penalties at certain times. Penalties are going to happen, but some penalties are bad penalties. We’ve had some bad penalties, and then the turnovers. We feel like there are probably three ball games this year that if we don’t have bad penalties and we don’t turn the ball over, we have a chance to win the game.”
Culley was asked if bringing officials to practice to reinforce what will draw a penalty would help the situation.
He said that because of NFL COVID protocols the Texans haven’t been able to do that, but might be able to have officials at practice at some point.
It’s left to the coaches and staff to enforce penalties at practice.
“We do that in practice," Culley said. "Normally, without the COVID deal, we would have officials at practice. Because of the COVID and the protocols that we’ve had, we haven’t had them at practice now. We’ve kind of been doing that ourselves.
"Sometimes it’s hard to be able to consistently do that, where we’re more concerned with getting a play run and guys doing what they need to do offensively and defensively. We’re thinking about trying to see if we can get more of that done in practice and maybe getting them here, because the COVID rules have gotten where now you can possibly get some guys in to do that.”