Texans' QB shift to Kyle Allen doesn't stop offensive struggles

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Davis Mills was on the bench holding a clipboard, charting plays and removed from the action on the field Sunday afternoon.

And Mills, benched as the Texans' starting quarterback last Wednesday, watched as his replacement, journeyman Kyle Allen, was involved in a nearly identical performance as the lackluster outings Mills delivered during the first nine games of the season.

As Mills watched from the sideline at Hard Rock Stadium, the Texans' offense remained in the same rut against a stout Miami Dolphins defense during a 30-15 loss that dropped them to 1-9-1 with a misleading final score. The stat lines were eerily similar to Mills' previous games along with the first-half struggles, slow start and untimely turnovers that have typified the Texans' unproductive offense this season. It was a completely lopsided game.

"When you're sitting here at 1-9-1, it's embarrassing at the end of the day," Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks said. "We haven't been good enough. It's disappointing for the fans, disappointing for all the work we put in. It's just embarrassing."

Although Mills lost his starting job as he regressed following an encouraging end to his rookie season last year, the entire offensive offense can't fairly be blamed on the former third-round draft pick from Stanford. The Texans didn't cross the 50-yard line in the first half, generating just three first downs and 32 yards of total offense on 25 plays as Allen went 10 for 16 for 59 yards while being sacked three times. He finished with a substandard 67.8 passer rating and two interceptions.

"I'm confident, I know I'm a much better player than what I showed today," Allen said. "Every team is still building, especially us. We have one win. We're trying to just get a win every week. So, I mean, we've just got to keep pushing.

When did the Texans know they were overmatched? Immediately.

"From the moment we came out," Cooks said. "I'm talking from an offensive standpoint, the moment we stepped out there. That's truth. That's facts."

Allen floated a pass into heavy traffic intended for rookie running back Dameon Pierce that went directly to linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel to set up a Jeff Wilson touchdown run as the Dolphins built a 17-0 lead on their way to a commanding 30-0 halftime edge.

"Just not good enough for me, I just didn't put our team in any type of position to win today," Allen said. "The interception early was just a bad ball, I can't do that. I've got to be a lot better if we want to win games."

Allen finished 26 of 39 for 215 yards with one touchdown.

No, he's not being replaced by Mills. At least not yet.

"We're not going to put a guy, give him his first start and start yanking and things like that," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "We let a guy play. We want to see him. We've got to eliminate those turnovers, but I thought he did some good things throughout the game. But we're not quite there yet as a team."

Allen improved in the second half, but it was too late for the Texans to overcome such a rough first half.

"I think Kyle was able to do what he can," Cooks said. "There's a lot going on out there. At the end of the day, there's so much before when it comes to that that needs to be fixed. We all need to be better around him and today simply no one is good enough.

"I look at the game as overall. We want to finish better. In this league, you come out in the first half like this you simply don't have a chance. It just wasn't good enough from no one. That's the way I think about it. I don't break it up in halves and all that. We lost the game and that's that."

The offensive line had a rough game against an aggressive Dolphins defense.

Allen was sacked five times and hit seven times overall, including a sack by outside linebacker Melvin Ingram on a rare one allowed by right tackle Tytus Howard.

The Dolphins were able to insert backup quarterback Skylar Thompson in the third quarter to protect quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the game already safely in hand.

"I feel like I didn't do enough today to help us," Howard said. "I gave up a sack early in the game. It's embarrassing going down 30-0 at the half and then they don't even have the starting quarterback in the game. We've got to find a way to get past this and be a better offense. I feel like I didn't do enough today.

"It's everybody. I felt like it's nothing Davis has done by himself. It's not a reflection of him. It's what we do up front. Everybody has a part. Kyle today, I didn't put him in the best position or give him enough time to make a throw. Everybody has got to play better and help each other."

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins

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Texans' Christian Harris, Rex Burkhead injured, Kenyon Green in and out of lineup

By Aaron Wilson

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Texans rookie starting linebacker Christian Harris injured his shoulder in the first quarter Sunday during a loss to the Miami Dolphins and didn't return.

Harris immediately went to the blue medical tent to be examined.

Harris was replaced by Blake Cashman with Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who had six tackles, joining a three-linebacker alignment next to defensive captain and middle linebacker Christian Kirksey during a 30-15 loss at Hard Rock Stadium. Texans linebacker Garret Wallow was a healthy scratch Sunday.

Texans running back Rex Burkhead was evaluated for a concussion after being hit hard in the fourth quarter while trying to catch a pass.

Meanwhile, the Texans replaced rookie Kenyon Green at left offensive guard, inserting veteran Justin McCray. Green later went back in  the game.

Green has struggled mightily.

The first-round draft pick from Texas A&M, a former consensus All-American and All-Southeastern Conference selection who was a blue-chip recruit at Atascosita High School, has allowed a lot of pressure and been penalized a ton in recent games while competing with some of the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL.

Texans coach Lovie Smith indicated that he prefers to let Green continue learning on the job instead of completing benching him.

"It's not necessarily teaching anyone," Smith said. "Yes, we're always teaching, but, if the play, we don't feel, is what it should be, you have to look for other options. The plan going in was to spell Kenyon and get Justin some plays. So, that was just the base part of what we were going to do coming in. It's like getting Dare (Ogunbowale) a couple more carries and different things like that."

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins

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Texans rookie Dameon Pierce stonewalled by Dolphins

By Aaron Wilson

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Dameon Pierce ran into an all too familiar brick wall Sunday, yet another defense copying the blueprint for how to stop him and the Texans' once formidable running game.

The Miami Dolphins' stout defense became the latest unit that was able to shut down Pierce, a contender for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The formula keeps getting repeated week after week as the fourth-round draft pick from Florida was limited to a season-low eight rushing yards for the second consecutive game. During a 30-15 loss at Hard Rock Stadium, Pierce had four runs for seven yards at halftime and just one carry in the second half for a yard as the Texans fell behind 30-0 and abandoned the running game.

Defenses are loading the tackle box to account for Pierce, and the strategy is working.

“Oh man, they’re stacking the line," Pierce said with a laugh. "Putting five down linemen up there: three down linemen, two stand-up defensive ends and just letting the linebackers play the gaps. That’s hard to run against in any system, whatever you are running. That’s something we do, though. That is something we are going to game plan against, something we’re going to get better at. We just have  to get used to it up front. 

"Obviously, if teams do something good against us, the other teams are going to copy cat and put it in their repertoire and implement that against us. But we just have to  start finding counters to the stuff that people are going to do to us, because we’re changing our tendencies. We’re trying to do tendency breakers. We just trying to get a better flow on offense. Ultimately, we are going to change that." 

The Texans finished with 36 rushing yards on 14 carries. Backup running back Dare Ogunbowale was the leading rusher with 14 yards on four carries and a touchdown.

"I mean, y'all know when someone stops someone up front, it always starts up there, up front," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "We played good defensive lines and they haven't allowed us to get our run going. It's kind of as simple as that. 

"We need to play better. There's no other answer than I'm going to give you 30 minutes after the game, because believe me, if we saw that problem we would have taken care of it out there."

Pierce rushed for 94 yards on 17 carries in a loss to the New York Giants two games ago and a career-high 139 rushing yards against the Philadelphia Eagles three games ago. It's not as if he forgot how to run the football.

Is it almost impossible to run the ball against these stacked fronts? The Dolphins are big and strong inside with defensive tackles Christian Wilkins and Raekwon Davis.

"Almost is a good word," Pierce said. " I feel like everybody really trying to do what the Titans did. They're running their own variations. They've got great guys up front. They let loose and make plays. They're very disruptive up front. Shout out to them."

The Texans faced seven or more defenders on all but one of Pierce's carries. He had four total yards against those alignments.

"Same thing everybody is loading up to make us run the ball," right tackle Tytus Howard said. "They've giving us the same looks. They're trying to force us to throw the ball."

The Texans are a run-first offense. When the running game is done, they're forced to throw the football. That isn't their strength.

“That’s our identity," Pierce said. "That’s what we want to come out and base our offense of us. Like you said, it may be one of  those days. We weren’t saying it’s the first six, seven weeks, it’s just something we’re in the dump  with right now. But we’re going to figure something out and we’re going to get our thing back on track and going where we need to be moving forward.

"I can say the first half wasn't our identity. That's not the level we want to play to. That's not the level Lovie Smith wants us to play to. The second half, we got fired up and started playing our style of ball."

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins

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Texans' Jordan Akins scores touchdown after losing fumble

By Aaron Wilson

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Jordan Akins wanted badly to atone for his costly mistake.

The Texans' veteran tight end got popped during the first half of a 30-15 loss Sunday to the Miami Dolphins by safety Eric Rowe, a hard tackle that dislodged the football with the forced fumble returned for a touchdown by cornerback Xavien Howard.

Later in the game, Akins exacted a measure of revenge. During the fourth quarter, Akins delivered an outstanding 25-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Akins ran away from linebacker Elandon Roberts and ran through safety Jevon Holland and Howard.

"You're damn right," Akins said when asked if revenge was on his mind. "When I saw that safety, he definitely had to pay. I definitely played with a vengeance. That's as hard as I've been hit."

Akins led the Texans with 61 receiving yards on five catches. The fumble was part of the Texans falling behind 30-0 at halftime.

"Gotta take care of the football, gotta secure the ball better, as simple as that," Texans coach Lovie Smith said. "When you turn the ball over like that, I mean, it's tough. Normally something bad happens when you turn the football over. Yes, we acknowledge that. Believe me, we want him to protect the football. That's a part of the game, too. Heck of a job by them."

The former third-round draft pick from Central Florida has caught 21 passes for 300 yards.

This was his second touchdown of the season.

"It was just a normal option route," Akins said. "I sprayed out to the numbers and saw him overplaying it. When I peeked inside, I saw nobody in the middle of the field, so I can either run a slant, or I can run an out, or I can set it. I beat him across his face and it was a foot race to the end zone. Then the safety who lit me up in the first half, I had to lay the wood on him, for sure. Thank God, I’m grateful and humbled to get in there and perform and get in the end zone.” 

Akins was cut by the New York Giants before the start of the regular season. Now, he's making the most out of his second chance with the Texans.

"It’s everything I’ve been praying for," Akins said. "Just an opportunity to get back out there and compete, not being overlooked or considered washed or too old for the game. I just want to be able to showcase my talent and show what I can do."

The Texans are off to a 1-9-1 start, which Akins called "very embarrassing."

He's been one of the few bright spots on a struggling team.

"Oh, very frustrating man, we hate to lose," Akins said. "You’re a competitor. If you’re in the NFL or any professional sport, you absolutely hate to lose. We try out best to flush it, but let it motivate you at the same time, and just to come out and do your job and do better the next game.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.

Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins

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