Bijani: Texans' best chance to win comes against Bears


(SportsRadio 610) - While the Texans had golden opportunities during the first two weeks to win ballgames late, their best chance to win could be on the road Sunday afternoon in Chicago.

Both the Texans and Bears are teams in the midst of a rebuild, with a lot of young players in key positions and of course two new head coaches in Lovie Smith and Matt Eberflus, respectively.

In fact, there are quite a few similarities between the two teams.

Smith called the Bears “second cousins” to the way they play defense. They both trust two rookies in the secondary with second round picks Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon, while the Texans like what they’ve seen from their rookies Derek Stingley Jr. and Jalen Pitre.

And both aren’t getting what they need from their quarterbacks throwing the ball thus far.

Davis Mills is completing just 56% of his passes in 75 attempts after two weeks. The Bears’ Justin Fields has a 54% completion rate on only 28 attempts.

The Bears have had to look for other ways to move the chains the first couple of weeks. Playing in a rain storm week one, Fields ran the ball 11 times to his 17 pass attempts. The Bears plugged away on the ground 27 times on their way to a 19-10 win over the 49ers.

Bears running back David Montgomery picked up 122 yards on just 15 carries in their week two 27-10 loss to the Packers. Fields attempted just 11 passes the entire game, throwing an interception and taking 3 sacks.

Smith said regardless of Fields’ struggles throwing the ball, they have to respect what the Bears have done on the ground through the first two weeks.

"It will be a big challenge for us. We haven’t played our best ball versus the run, haven’t tackled as well as we need to," Smith said. "All of those things should come into play this week."

It’s early in the season, as two games is hardly a large enough sample size to identify a trend on either side. The rushing numbers in the Bears' lopsided loss to the Packers last weekend came in the second half when they were already trailing by two touchdowns.

Nevertheless, that game against the Packers has the Bears ranked as a top 10 rushing team in the league after gaining 279 yards on the ground at 4.4 yards per clip.

While the Texans haven’t been near as successful, their ability to run the football shouldn’t be discounted after just two games.

The emergence of rookie rusher Dameon Pierce should have the Texans offensive line licking their chops as the Bears run defense is worst in the league after two weeks, surrendering 379 yards at five yards per carry.

However, while neither of these two teams have been wild about their quarterbacks throwing the ball to start the season for a variety of reasons, Smith said Wednesday the Texans are going to have to get more from Mills and their receivers to compliment the run game.

"We’ve got to be successful running the ball, but we’ve got to open our passing game too," Smith said. "When teams make a hard commitment to stop the run like that, they’re in one-on-one situation outside. As you talk to our guys outside and our quarterback giving the ball to him, we have to do some things like that to help the run also."

While Mills has struggled late in games the last two weeks, he’s also had difficulty finding receivers outside of crunch time.

Veteran receiver Brandin Cooks, who dropped a would-be touchdown in the third quarter of last Sunday's 16-9 road loss to the Broncos, said it doesn’t just boil down to Mills. Everybody has to look in the mirror at this point.

“That’s my message because in the name of the game, in those tight scores or whatever the case might be, who’s going to take you over the edge is typically going to be your best guy," Cooks said. "We quite frankly haven’t done that yet and I take some of that. I got that mentality to get back to work and keep pushing to be able to turn those tight scores into wins."

Shaun Bijani has spent the last 16 years covering the Houston sports scene for SportsRadio 610. Follow him on Twitter @ShaunBijani.

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