The Houston Texans dropped their fourth straight game of the 2020 NFL season against the Minnesota Vikings in a very frustrating fashion that ended Bill O'Brien's time in Texas.
Houston Texans Week 4 Recap: Good, bad, ugly against Minnesota Vikings
The Houston Texans offense scored 17 points in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings. That was their highest-scoring output to start the second half after they combined to score 19 points against their other three opponents in the last two quarters.
The offense scored in the third quarter for the first time this season after struggling to put points on the board for the other three weeks. The passing game was night and day difference in the second half as Deshaun Watson notched his two touchdown passes of the day with Will Fuller and Kenny Stills.
Fuller had his second 100-yard performance in four games as he finished with 6 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown reception. He's also had a touchdown reception in the last two games, which bodes well for the Texans as they hope to overcome their slow start on offense.
Watson also had his first performance where he didn't throw an interception since his playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The offense was a lot more aggressive in the second half, with Watson throwing for 221 of his 300 yards.
The offense was freer flowing in the second half, and Watson looked a lot more decisive with where he wanted to throw the football. Watson connected with Kenny Stills, Darren Fells, David Johnson, and Randall Cobb in the second half after only completing passes to Will Fuller, Jordan Akins, and Duke Johnson in the first two quarters.
Moving onto the defense, Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney each accounted for 10 tackles. This is the third consecutive game that both players have double-digit tackles for Houston's defense.
Meanwhile, Whitney Mercilus and P.J. Hall both recorded their first sacks of the season against the Vikings. Mercilus, in particular, had a solid game with four tackles, two sacks, and three quarterback hits.
This was Mercilus first solid outing rushing the passer after three quiet games, and the Texans will need him to build off this performance for the defense to improve as the season progresses.
The Houston Texans offense in the first half belongs on this category after only putting up 79 passing yards in the first two quarters. Establishing the run game continues to be an issue for the Texans after they only put 96 yards against the Vikings' defense.
David Johnson rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries; meanwhile, Duke Johnson finished with 5 carries for 24 yards. The Texans have taken a noticeastep back after Carlos Hyde rushed for 1,000 yards last season.
The Texans rushing attack ranks dead last in the league as they are averaging a meager 73.5 yards per game. The offense has relied heavily on the passing game, and that was no different against the Vikings.
Texans' struggles run game was captured perfectly as they struggled to score inside the Vikings five-yard line. Houston attempted to run the football with David Johnson for the first three downs before executing a pass on fourth and goal.
Fuller made a tough acrobatic one-handed catch, but briefly lost control of the football as he hit the ground. The touchdown was overturned, and Houston turned the ball over on downs with only a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
The Texans put themselves in the position to lose the game with poor playcalling and execution after driving down the length of the football field.
The Houston Texans run defense belongs in this category. The Texans have struggled to set the edge consistently. Sometimes it's Brennan Scarlett, and other times it's been Whitney Mercilus.
It really is a collective effort to stop the run, but those two are playing below average at times have made the run defense look poor early on. The run defense still ranks last in the NFL as they are allowing 181.8 yards per game.
They allowed 162 yards against the Vikings, and Dalvin Cook accounted for two touchdowns and 130 yards on 27 carries. The Texans often got penetration, but they could not bring the runner down as they passed the line of scrimmage for positive yardage.
Texans have a legitimate problem at the edge, and they may need to look beyond their first two options at outside linebacker to upgrade their play against the run.
Meanwhile, in the secondary, Vernon Hargreaves has continued his struggles. Opposing offenses have keyed in on him instead of going against Bradley Roby. Hargreaves has offered solid coverage in spurts, but the whole house comes down when he starts struggling in passing situations.
His missed tackles have been noticeable, and his tackling isn't his forte. So if Hargreaves begins to struggle in coverage, he is a liability on the defense.
Houston's defense has struggled as a collective unit, leading to no turnovers through four games. The Texans remain the only team in the league without forcing an interception or fumble.
Speaking of turnovers, DeAndre Carter had a crucial forced fumble after being demolished on the open field as he returned a punt. Carter's struggles have been evident, and it's beginning to outweigh his role as a returner on special teams.
Carter has 7 fumbles in 27 games; that's almost a fumble every four games he plays. The Texans have been patient with Carter, but it might the end of the road for him. It's important to point out that Houston has former Pro Bowl special teams returner, Dwayne Carter, on the practice squad.
The Texans have begun to make changes after firing Bill O'Brien, and it's only a matter of time until they begin addressing the roster if they hope to overcome an 0-4 start to the season.