HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans overcame the loss of J.J. Watt to reach the divisional round of the playoffs.
But mistakes by Brock Osweiler doomed Houston in a loss to the New England Patriots and leaves questions about whether he’ll be the starter next season.
The Texans signed Osweiler to a $72 million contract in the offseason in hopes of upgrading the position after Brian Hoyer accounted for five turnovers in a 30-0 loss to Kansas City in the wild-card round of the playoffs last season.
Instead of being the answer to their longtime woes at quarterback, Osweiler struggled throughout the season and was benched before returning for the postseason.
He was turnover-free in a wild-card win over the Raiders before throwing three interceptions in the second half on Saturday to allow New England to pull away for the 34-16 victory .
Less than 48 hours after the loss, coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t ready to make any proclamations about who will start next season or say if Osweiler will have to compete with Tom Savage for the job.
“Before I talk about those types of things, I have to evaluate it myself,” he said. “I have to talk to our coaching staff and get their input, our personnel people and get their input. I wouldn’t be a good head coach if I stood up here and told you, `Hey, this is what we are planning to do.'”
O’Brien also refused to discuss whether the Texans would consider drafting a quarterback in April after Osweiler threw more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (17) this season.
“We’re so far from — absolutely so far removed from even answering that question … we evaluate everything we do. Then we get with the personnel people,” O’Brien said.
“We talk about all the things we need to do to improve — coaching, playing, everything. So that’s not even a question I can begin to answer.”
EARLY CHANGE: While the Texans need more time to decide on what to do with Osweiler, they made a big decision on offense on Monday afternoon when they announced that offensive coordinator George Godsey wouldn’t return next season. The Texans said they and Godsey “mutually agreed to part ways.”
Godsey was in his second season as offensive coordinator after working as quarterbacks coach in his first year with the team in 2014.
His work came under fire this season as Houston’s offense ranked near the bottom of the league behind the struggles Osweiler.
Godsey called the plays at the beginning of the season, but O’Brien took away his play-calling duties and began calling them himself in late September after the offense failed to move the ball consistently.
STRONG DEFENSE: Houston finished ranked first in yards allowed in the regular season despite losing Watt to season-ending back surgery after just three games.
“The future looks bright,” outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “We’ve got a great group of guys who stepped up their game this year and did a great job for us to be in the position we were in. To have J.J. back next year is going to be great. He’s going to add that much more.”
The unit received a boost from a breakout season by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney . The top overall pick in the 2014 draft shook off two injury-filled seasons to finish the regular season with 16 tackles for losses, 17 quarterback hits and six sacks.
He continued his strong play in the postseason when he joined Watt as the only defensive linemen in franchise history to get an interception in a playoff game when he grabbed one against the Raiders to set up Houston’s first touchdown. His big season helped him morph into a leader for the group.
“When you have success on the field, you’re able to instill more of your personality in the locker room,” O’Brien said.
“I think you guys got a chance to see that this year. The guy’s a great guy. Loves football, loves his teammates, loves playing, plays hard.”
READER IS READY: Houston got another solid season from nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who was in his second year with the Texans after spending 11 years with the Patriots.
Wilfork is contemplating retirement , but the Texans should be OK at the position if he does hang it up because of the development of rookie D.J. Reader.
Reader, a fifth-round pick, appeared in every game this season with seven starts.
“D.J. Reader is one of the better young defensive linemen I’ve been around in the NFL,” O’Brien said. “He’s tough. He’s built low to the ground. He’s hard to move. He’s got good pass rush skills.”
LOOKING AHEAD: Despite the tough end to the season, O’Brien is encouraged by the progress the team made this season.
Houston won its second straight AFC South title and its win over the Raiders was the team’s first playoff victory since 2012.
“I’m very proud of this team,” O’Brien said. “This team fought hard … when you lose in the playoffs, it’s a terrible feeling … it’s an empty feeling. Give a lot of credit to the Patriots, they executed better than we did (but) we can build on it.”