I'm not going to offer up excuses for the Texans' 31-12 loss at Tennessee. The offensive stats speak for themselves. The Texans were 3-15 on third downs and 1-6 in the red zone. They went for it six times on fourth down and were successful only twice. Quarterback Matt Schaub finished 17-37 with three interceptions and no touchdowns.
That won't cut it in the NFL.
The coaches know that. They will relive their mistakes Monday as the watch game film. But they also know it's too soon to hit the panic button. Plenty of teams have started out slow and gone on to have winning seasons…or even reach the Super Bowl. Think last year's New York Giants.
The Texans realize that to turn things around they have to make adjustments and they have to make them now.
Defensive coordinator Richard Smith started doing just that in the second half against Tennessee. He had defensive end Mario Williams line up at linebacker next to DeMeco Ryans and rush Kerry Collins. Williams didn't register a sack, but he took Collins out of his game and helped hold the quarterback to 4-of-9 for 48 yards in the second half.
The Texans' defensive adjustments and an impassioned halftime locker-room plea from Ryans produced two of the defense's best quarters of football. In the second half, the Texans allowed only 88.3 yards and a field goal.
Now, the offense must follow suit. The Texans have something special in rookie running back Steve Slaton, who rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown against a Tennessee defense that came into the game allowing only 60.5 yards rushing per game.
Things won't get any easier for the offense in Jacksonville on Sunday, but that's no excuse.