5 takeaways from the Texans’ 17-9 loss to the Dolphins

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HOUSTON — The Houston Texans dropped their eighth consecutive game in a 17-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Sunday afternoon at Hard Rock Stadium.

It was another wire-to-wire defeat for the Texans — their third in four games — as the Dolphins scored the first touchdown of the day on a six-yard run by running back Myles Gaskin amid a wildcat offense.

Tyrod Taylor returned from his six-game absence and ended the day with 240 yards while completing 55.8 percent of his passes, to go along with three interceptions in the loss.

For Miami, Jacoby Brissett — who started in placed of an injured Tua Tagovailoa — led the Dolphins to their first victory in seven tries by recording 244 yards and a touchdown in the win.

1. Houston's offensive line killed all momentum for the Texans

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Taylor returned from injury against the Dolphins and had the Texans’ offense appearing flawless through the first seven plays of the game. He completed two of his first three pass attempts and had the Texans in striking distance to score on their first drive of the day.

On the Texans’ eighth and final play of the series, Jevon Holland intercepted Taylor’s pass attempt to Brandin Cooks in the back of the end-zone.

His interception killed the momentum of the offense to start the game, but Taylor’s pick was the result of a terrible offensive line. The right side of the Texans’ o-line failed to pick up a blitz, which caused Taylor to throw his pass attempt prematurely to avoid a sack.

This play led to the Dolphins throwing different blitz packages against the Texans, where the offensive line failed to prevent the pressure.

The offensive line’s inability to block nearly resulted in Taylor committing another turnover in the first quarter. Nik Needham sacked Taylor following a blitz from the right side of the offensive line and came seconds away from a forced fumble.

If Houston’s offensive line played more effectively, the Texans might’ve ended their losing streak in South Beach. The Texans’ offensive line is the reason why Houston’s offense could not sustain drives, as Taylor was sacked five times in the loss.

2. Tyrod Taylor was extremely rusty

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

While a portion of Taylor’s struggles came as a result of the offensive line, the 32-year-old quarterback appeared notably rusty in his return. Taylor did not play with the same explosiveness he started the season with and had one of the worst performances of his career.

He made several problematic decisions with the ball, and a trio resulted in an interception by the Dolphins.

While escaping out of the pocket, he failed to extend drives with his legs, and each pass attempt on the run appeared that Taylor was more focused on avoiding a hit other than finding a target.

His worst play of the day came with 6:48 left in the fourth quarter when Taylor tripped over Rex Burkhead’s feet for a loss of 11 yards. The botched play killed any chance of the Texans successfully executing a fourth-quarter rally in hopes of stealing a victory in Miami.

3. Texans' defense was at their best

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Despite the loss, the Texans had arguably their best defensive performance of the season. They recorded a season-high five takeaways on the day, and each forced turnover placed Houston’s offense in considerable field position.

If the defense wasn’t creating a takeaway, Houston’s defensive front created pressure on Miami’s offensive line that ensued in four sacks on Dolphins’ quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Following the game, defensive lineman Maliek Collins said the defense should have recorded more turnovers to give the offense more opportunities to score.

But Houston’s eighth loss of the season was the result of an atrocious offensive performance. The loss in Miami was nowhere near the fault of the Texans’ defense.

4. Maliek Collins was a defensive standout

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

It’s hard to point out a defensive standout for Houston, but Collins had his best game as a Texan in the 305. As a disruptor on the Texans’ defensive front, Collins recorded a sack, a fumble recovery and the first interception of his career in the loss to the Dolphins.

Collins’ play is an example of several wasted defensive efforts, given the Texans’ inability to sustain drives on the offensive side of the ball.

5. Is Texans S Lonnie Johnson next to be at odds with the organization?

(AP Photo/Matt Patterson)

Johnson rarely saw the field against the Dolphins, and it’s worth wondering if the 26-year-old defensive back will be the next Texan at odds with the organization.

Eric Murray started opposite Justin Reid at safety, and special teams were the only time Johnson received playing time against the Dolphins.

Perhaps Johnson’s lack of playing time is a sign that the Texans are ready to move on from the Indiana native. Houston shopped Johnson around the league prior to the NFL trade deadline, but could not find a suitor for his services.

The last player who saw his snaps disintegrate each game — similar to Johnson — was defensive end Charles Omenihu. And after two healthy scratches and minimum playing time, the Texans departed from Omenihu on Tuesday in a trade to the San Francisco 49ers.

Clearly, Johnson’s lack of playing time indicates that the Texans do not view their 2019 second round pick as a foundational piece to their rebuilding project.

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