Reality check: Texans still need to fix 'self-inflicted' mistakes

Deshaun Watson wasn't sacked in the Texans' past two games, but the Colts brought him down in the backfield three times Sunday. Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

HOUSTON -- The day after the Houston Texans pulled off an exciting victory against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Week 6, coach Bill O’Brien stood at the podium at NRG Stadium to address the media, aware the Texans had a lot of football left before they could say they had accomplished anything.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” he said.

“He’s got to take care of the ball better.”

“There’s a lot to improve on.”

And then, finally, “I’m telling you guys, I think you just have to take the approach that you have to improve. I think it’s an improvement league. I think the teams that improve the most over the 16-game season are the ones that end up being where they want to be. I think if you don’t continue with that theme – I’m talking about individual players, individual coaches, I’m talking about units and then obviously the team, then I think you’re going to be in a bind. We’ve got to just take the approach of trying to get better.

“This is a very, very humbling league.”

O’Brien was trying to caution against making too much of a 4-2 team coming off a big win, pointing out how good the Colts are and that it would be a challenge. And while nobody is suggesting the Texans overlooked their trip to Indianapolis, their 30-23 loss to the Colts on Sunday provided a dose of reality and showed that while Houston still has a good team, they have to fix the mistakes to be considered real contenders in the AFC.

“We did a great job last week versus Kansas City [and] had the opportunity to step up against this week,” safety Justin Reid said. “We just had too many mistakes, too many flags.”

For the second week in a row, the Texans were called for 10 penalties, something that was mentioned over and over in the locker room.

“[We’re] out there just shooting ourselves in the foot from the get go and it just happened throughout the game, especially on defense as well,” outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “We were about to get off the field and then all of a sudden there was a pass interference or roughing the passer or unnecessary roughness – just something like that.”

“We had a lot of self-inflicted things,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got to stop doing that.”

Reid called the “mental errors” he saw in the game “just one thing that we can do better at.”

“But, we have everybody we need here,” Reid said. “The type of talent we have on this team, the things we can do to win, we’ve done it over and over. So, we’ve just got to continue to do that.”

At the podium after Sunday’s loss, quarterback Deshaun Watson was asked if losing a game the way Houston did was frustrating. Against the Colts, Watson completed 23 of 34 passes for 308 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, including one as the Texans were driving down the field with a chance to tie the game. But that's not the way Watson looked at the loss.

“Am I frustrated? No, I’m going to keep my composure,” Watson said. “It’s a long season. We have to give the Colts credit; they handled what they needed to handle. We didn’t execute enough to be able to capitalize. We have to take our game to the next level and we’ll get back to the drawing board and get ready for the Raiders. That’s the biggest thing. We can’t get frustrated. We can’t get discouraged. We have to keep a positive energy and stay motivated. Like I said, anything can happen. This is the NFL. It’s a new week every week.”