HOUSTON — The fans came and booed loudly to let quarterback Deshaun Watson know he was not welcomed back in the place he used to call home. They screamed out things from the stands that were unsafe to say in any setting.
Yet, in the end, the Houston Texans fans walked out of NRG with the same emotions and bewilderment most had when they entered the stadium after the Texans lost their seventh consecutive game by a score of 27 -14 to the Cleveland Browns.
Many Houston Texans fans had Sunday’s game marked on their calendars after the NFL revealed that Watson would make his return to the field after serving a suspension for violating the league’s Code of Conduct policy against his former team. He was disgruntled with the Texans organization and demanded a trade in 2021.
It was later revealed that multiple women alleged that Watson sexually assaulted and harassed them during private massage sessions.
Houston traded him in the offseason to Cleveland. He served a 12-game suspension issued by the NFL after settling most of the cases in civil court after two grand juries didn’t find enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
The diehard faithful fans that attend games, buy team merchandise, and flood social media with the support of the Texans filled the stands on Sunday to let Watson know that the love for the franchise is still there, despite his departure.
They must have forgotten that the quarterback that eventually would replace Watson was benched for ineffectiveness, and his backup was starting. It only took one play for the fans to realize that it would be a very long day.
Kyle Allen hurled a 32-yard pass to tight end Teagan Quitoriano to open the game. The play looked promising until the tight end lost control of the football when he made contact with the field. The ball propelled into the air and found its way into the hands of Browns safety John Johnson.
That play would be a premonition for the Texans’ offense as they would continue to be unproductive throughout the game. A squandered opportunity on the Browns’ one-yard line in the second quarter and a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown by Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones didn’t hurt as much as the turnovers later in the game by Allen (fumble, interception) that were returned for touchdowns.
“Eventually, we’ve got to have some production on the offensive side,” said Texans head coach Lovie Smith. “We’ve got to score points. We were in it, holding them, taking the ball away. On defense that’s what we’ve been stressing a lot. We’ve got to get our offense more opportunities in favorable situations. But when we get down in the red zone – we had opportunities today. We’ve got to be able to convert some kind of way.”
Many more questions will be asked each week about an inept offense that has shown no signs of improvement after making a quarterback change from Davis Mills to Kyle Allen.
Last week against the Miami Dolphins, Allen was shaking off the rust of not having played competitive football in almost a full calendar year.
This week against the Browns, Allen had all the first-team reps in practice. He got more familiar with the playbook and had a better feel for what offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wanted to accomplish. But when it was time for all of that to manifest itself in game time situations, Allen looked as if he had just received the game plan the morning of the game.
“Last week, Kyle (Allen) hadn’t played a lot of ball,” Smith told reporters after the game. “We were hoping the play would be a little bit better this week. Our play overall wasn’t as good this week… We’re not a good offense right now. We’re still searching for what we can do well. When we did try to run the football, I thought Dameon Pierce continues to play the same way, but we’ve got to find a way, some kind of way, to get our passing game going.”
The Texans could go back to Mills to end the season, but with their next two games being against teams who have aspirations of going deep into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs, the results will be the same.
Watson ran off the field to boos from the Texans fans, which remained despite the game’s score. They wanted him to know that they did not like how he left the franchise in disarray, trying to figure out how long the rebuild would take.
It will be back to business in two weeks as usual, as the fans will boo and complain loudly towards the Texans sideline.