“We have to be able to run the ball,” said Texans head coach David Culley. “That’s hwo we are and I think offensively our biggest ill of the night was the face we could not establish any consistency in our run game."
The Houston Texans knew how important it would be to establish the run game with rookie quarterback Davis Mills making his first ever NFL start.
The Texans tried to play a run first game, giving Mills safe opportunities to pass on play action and in the intermediate game, but never were able to get the offense going in a 24-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Thursday at NRG Stadium.
“We have to be able to run the ball,” said Texans head coach David Culley. “That’s hwo we are and I think offensively our biggest ill of the night was the face we could not establish any consistency in our run game. We’ve got to be able to do that to be successful and to be able to become better in the pass game and be consistent and stay on the field.”
The Texans only mustered 42 yards on the ground as Mark Ingram leading the team with 21 yards on the ground.
Mills was efficient, going 19-28 for 168 yards and a touchdown and found Brandin Cooks a lot as Cooks finished with nine catches for 112 yards.
“I thought he did very well,” Culley said. “He didn’t turn the ball over at all, which was a big thing going into the game. I thought he threw the ball very well.”
The Texans defense was unable to hold off the Panthers passing game as Sam Darnold went 23-34 for 304 yards and also ran for two touchdowns, and the Panthers were able to put up 117 yards on the ground despite losing Christian McCaffrey to an injury in the first half.
After trading punts to start the game, the Panthers went 88 yards on ten plays and Darnold found the endzone on a 5-yard run. The Texans weren’t able to get anything going on their first four drives, but finally got a score as they went hurry up late in the second quarter and Anthony Miller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Mills.
But that was the last bright spot for Houston. Carolina scored on each of their first three possessions to start the second half and then ran the clock out on their last possession while the Texans only could muster three points in the final two quarters.
“We’ve got to finish,” said linebacker Christian Kirksey. “When a quarterback is extending the play, we’ve got to make sure we finish to the ball and finish on the ball. A couple times we had strip sacks and we had to get the ball in those situations. So, it’s just all about finishing.”
The Texans went without a turnover for the first time this season in the loss and know they need to be better on that side of the ball.
Offensively, Culley was impressed with what Mills was able to do in his first start but knows the Texans will need to improve in the run game going forward.”
“Once we got going Tim (Kelly) just called the game as if he was calling it if Tyrod (Taylor) was in there,” Culley said. “We just did not run the ball as well as we needed to run the ball because of mistakes we made.”