HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans’ offense, all season long, has been ugly. And the numbers are even worse.
Somehow -- primarily thanks to the top-ranked unit in total defense and the No. 8 running game -- a team that ended the season with a minus-49 point differential and finished 9-7 wound up with a home playoff game as the winners of the AFC South for the second straight year.
Only two other playoff teams this season had a negative point differential: Miami at minus-17 and Detroit at minus-12.
The numbers are even more surprising because Houston spent the offseason investing in its offense by signing quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million deal, signing running back Lamar Miller to a four-year contract and using its first-round pick on wide receiver Will Fuller.
Texans coach Bill O’Brien acknowledged that the offense hasn’t lived up to the high expectations the team had coming into the season.
“No, obviously no, it hasn’t,” O’Brien said. “We haven’t coached good enough. We haven’t performed good enough on offense. Looking in the mirror on that. We’re going to work very hard to figure out what’s the best way to move the ball against Oakland.”
The Texans’ 314.7 yards per game are the fewest by any playoff team since the 2011 49ers, who averaged 310.9 yards per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
This season, the Texans’ offense often failed to find the end zone, and their 23 touchdowns were tied with the Los Angeles Rams for the fewest in the league this season. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the 17.4 points per game that the Texans scored are the fewest by a playoff team since the 2005 Bears, who scored just 16.3 points per game.
Houston also has struggled in the red zone, converting just 40.9 percent of its red zone drives into touchdowns, which is the worst by any playoff team since the 2011 49ers.
The Texans also averaged 4.7 yards per play, which according to ESPN Stats & Info, was the worst by any playoff team since the 2005 Bears.
Most of the struggles on offense come from the inconsistency of Osweiler, who finished the regular season completing 59 percent of his passes for 2,957 yards, with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 15 games. Of quarterbacks with at least 100 downfield pass attempts, Osweiler had the worst completion percentage (26.5) by a playoff quarterback since 2006, when ESPN Stats & Info first started tracking that statistic.
Osweiler was benched for Tom Savage in Week 15 after he threw two first-half interceptions against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Two weeks later, he came in after Savage left their Week 17 game against the Tennessee Titans with a concussion. On Tuesday, O’Brien named him the starting quarterback for Saturday’s wild-card game against the Oakland Raiders.
The Texans’ defense is the reason for the team’s second straight AFC South title, but it cannot win multiple playoff games on its own. If Houston wants to have a chance to play in its home stadium for Super Bowl LI, the offense needs to start picking up its end of the bargain.