McClain: Texans GM Nick Caserio's job not in jeopardy, despite poor record

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

The Texans try to recover from their worst performance of the season in the 23-10 loss to the Commanders, and they have to do it at Miami, where they’ll face their most prolific passing game this season.

The Dolphins are favored by 11, and the final score could be much more decisive unless coach Lovie Smith’s team gets its act together.

Here are some weekly observations on the worst team in the NFL.

Podcast Episode
Houtopia Football Podcast
HOUTOPIA Mailbag Episode -- Texans Nation is Getting Restless! | Houtopia Podcast
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

SMITH NEEDS TO MAKE MAJOR CHANGES

The Texans have a five-game losing streak and a league-worst 1-8-1 record. Lovie Smith has some decisions to make. He should bench quarterback Davis Mills and see what Kyle Allen can do. If Pep Hamilton’s play calling doesn’t improve and his passing game continues to be one of the NFL’s worst, Smith should give the play-calling responsibility to Ben McDaniels, the passing game coordinator. McDaniels, who also coaches receivers, couldn’t do a worse job.

If Smith doesn’t do something to improve an offense that’s 32nd in the NFL, his job could be in jeopardy. The McNair family and general manager Nick Caserio won’t put up with the Texans getting embarrassed on a weekly basis.

CASERIO’S JOB NOT IN JEOPARDY

As the Texans continue to plummet while looking at a sixth consecutive loss to the Dolphins, some are asking if Nick Caserio could be in danger of losing his job. The answer is no.

This is the second year of the massive rebuilding project that Caserio is overseeing. Nobody expected 2022 to be worse than 2021, but that’s the case with seven games left in the season. The McNair family gave Caserio a six-year contract and control over the personnel department. There’s no way they’re going to pull the plug on him after two seasons.

Caserio has stockpiled draft choices in 2023 and 2024. He also is clearing up a serious salary cap problem and should have money to spend on big-money free agents when the new league year begins in March. If the Texans continue to nose-dive and Lovie Smith is fired, it’ll be up to Caserio to hire another coach – his third in three years as the general manager. The McNairs will have to sign off on that kind of important decision.

MILLS’ REGRESSION IS ALARMING

The Texans had such high hopes for second-year quarterback Davis Mills, but he’s taken such a huge step backward he may be falling off a cliff. There’s little resemblance between the Mills who has a league-high 11 interceptions to the Mills who threw 10 as a rookie.

Mills has 11 touchdown passes to go with his 11 interceptions. His 78.1 rating is 30th in the NFL. His third-down rating of 54.1 is last. He has two touchdown passes and five interceptions on third down.

Let’s be fair to Mills. Even though he has a running game with Dameon Pierce, something the Texans lacked last season, Mills has been unable to take advantage of it. At times, the pass protection has been terrible. But when it isn’t, too often Mills has thrown inaccurate passes – low and in the ground or high and over the receiver’s head. Mills didn’t consistently make those kind of mistakes as a rookie.

DEFENSIVE BACKS COULD GET ROASTED

The Texans have been going against a lot of outstanding running backs who have compiled impressive statistics against them. Against Miami, the secondary is going to play against its best passing game.

The Dolphins have the NFL’s third-best offense with 391.5 yards a game under first-year coach Mike McDaniel, who spent three years (2006-08) as an offensive assistant with the Texans under Gary Kubiak. They’re 27th in rushing (97.7 yards) and second in passing (293.8).

Tua Tagovailoa leads the NFL with a 118.4 rating. He’s completed 71 percent, which is second. His 9.13 yards per attempt is first. He has 18 touchdown passes and three interceptions. The Dolphins are 5-0 in games that he’s started and finished.

The Texans could sure use rookie cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. He missed the Washington game because of a hamstring issue and may be forced to sit out another game. The secondary must contend with wide receivers Tyreek Hill (81 catches, 1,148 yards, 4 touchdowns) and Houston native Jaylen Waddle (51 for 178 and 6).

The defensive backs will be tested early and often. Don’t be surprised if Hill and Waddle light them up.

DEFENSE DOWN IN TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

Lovie Smith’s defense prides itself on takeaways, but they’ve been few and far between. At one point, they were plus-4. Now they’re minus-2.

The Texans haven’t forced a turnover in the last two losses to the Commanders and Giants. The defense hasn’t intercepted a pass in three consecutive games. The last time the Texans had an interception was the Tennessee game. They’ve forced one turnover in three games, a fumble in the loss to the Eagles.

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR GREEN

Rookie left guard Kenyon Green has been steamrolled in the last two games against the Giants and Commanders. He’s faced a string of former first-round picks at tackle in four consecutive games. The coaches should hope his confidence isn’t getting destroyed considering the way he’s been stuffed at the line of scrimmage and the penalties called on him, including four that were declined.

Green was the 15th pick in the first round. He’s had some good games, and he’s shown a lot of promise, but his last four games have been difficult and the last two just devastating.

“I believe there’s been a lot of learning moments we’ve gone through with him,” Lovie Smith said. “A part of taking that next step is to go through some of those days when the guy that’s playing against you may be better than you right now, but you learn and hope you get better and better.

“Kenyon -- or whoever we think is our best option -- we have to let them get their nose bloodied a little. All rookies go through it. That’s a part of the progression of becoming a good NFL player. Kenyon realizes that. We’re going to keep coaching him up to give him a chance to have more success.”

Sunday against Miami would a good time for Green to bounce back and play the way the coaches believe he’s capable.

John McClain can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Monday and Thursday on Texans Radio. He write three times a week and does three Houtopia Podcasts for SportsRadio610.com. He also can be read four times a week on GallerySports.com.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images