Bryce Young seems like a good sort. He's certainly a fantastic quarterback for Alabama. Comes off well in those Dr. Pepper commercials.
He deserves better than the Houston Texans. Any young quarterback does.
The Texans are leaving absolutely no doubt they're going to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft. They had an absolutely embarrassing performance in a 30-15 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday to fall to 1-9-1. The Texans trailed at 30-0 at halftime and it was probably even worse than the score indicated, if that's possible.
They had 32 yards on 25 plays in the first half. They gave up 287 by halftime. Tua Tagovailoa had 278 passing yards at halftime and could have taken a run at Norm Van Brocklin's record of 554 if Mike McDaniel had some reason to run up the score on Houston. Instead Tagovailoa was pulled ... in the third quarter. The Texans benched quarterback Davis Mills to start Kyle Allen for some reason (maybe it was to get closer to that first pick?) and Allen had 49 yards and a 40.9 passer rating at halftime.
That performance came a week after the Texans had five yards at halftime at home against the Washington Commanders. They're not quiet quitting. There's nothing quiet about it.
And somewhere, Young, his family and advisors have to be wondering what they're getting themselves into. Young is the presumed No. 1 overall pick of the draft. If the top pick ends up being someone like C.J. Stroud of Ohio State or Will Levis of Kentucky, just change the name in the headline above. Any quarterback who's going to Houston first overall shouldn't feel good about it.
The Texans have become the worst team in the NFL. They couldn't even trade Brandin Cooks correctly, because of his $18 million guaranteed salary for next season and Houston's demands for picks. They passed on Sauce Gardner in the draft last April to take Derek Stingley Jr. third overall, and Gardner has become the runaway favorite for defensive rookie of the year. Dameon Pierce is a bright spot on a depleted roster but on the priority lists for a full rebuild, a good running back is low on the list. There is no abundance of promising young talent. There's very little to be excited about.
Lovie Smith, who was an odd hire who got the job over Brian Flores following Flores' lawsuit against the NFL (after an even odder dalliance with Josh McCown), might be another one-and-done coach. But who would want the job? Sean Payton will be at the top of every list, but a team would have to trade the New Orleans Saints for him and it's unclear why Payton would want a part of the Texans' mess. He could have any opening he wanted. The chance to start with Young or Stroud is a selling point for any candidate, but that might not be enough to take on a massive project like the Texans.
Houston is a laughingstock. The Texans have won four games in back-to-back seasons and probably isn't going to sniff four wins this season. There's not a lot on the roster to build around after the Bill O'Brien regime traded many picks and whiffed on others. The Texans did move on from controversial former executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby in a sudden firing earlier this season, and that probably isn't a bad thing. But anyone watching the Texans the last couple weeks knows this team is a mess, it looks like it is ready to be done with the season and there's not a lot of hope for it all turning around anytime soon.
Good luck, Bryce. You're going to need it.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 12 of the NFL season:
The playoff contending Commanders: The Washington Commanders are the new New York Giants. They're the NFC East team that doesn't look very good but they just keep winning.
Washington didn't play too well at home against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday but won 19-13. They're 7-5 this season. The Commanders were barely hanging on in the final minute when the Falcons got to the 4-yard line, but Marcus Mariota's pass was tipped at the line by defensive lineman Daron Payne and picked off by Kendall Fuller.
The Commanders escaped. If they keep escaping with wins, they'll find themselves in the playoffs.
The Browns and Jacoby Brissett: The Cleveland Browns still aren't totally dead at 4-7, with Deshaun Watson ready to come back next week from his suspension.
Brissett gave the Browns a highlight before he returns to a backup role. He threw a touchdown to David Njoku in the final minute of regulation to tie it and then hit Amari Cooper for a 45-yard gain late in overtime to set up a Nick Chubb touchdown and a 23-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was a tough, hard-fought win.
But Sunday wasn't a great result for the Buccaneers. The offense didn't play well again. The Buccaneers had a shot to win it late in regulation but couldn't stop Njoku on a fantastic catch in the end zone on fourth down to tie the game. Then in overtime, tackle Tristan Wirfs suffered what looked like a serious leg injury when Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah jumped and was blocked into Wirfs' leg. That's really bad for the Bucs going forward.
The Browns have had their share of adversity this season too. They're clearly not in great shape at 4-7. But at least the win Sunday keeps them relevant. Now we'll see what Watson can do.
Russell Wilson, Nathaniel Hackett ... week after week: A stunning stat made the rounds on Twitter last week. If the Broncos scored 18 points in every game this season, they'd have been 7-3. It's 7-4 after Sunday's 23-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but the point still stands. The Broncos are unwatchable.
Denver's offense was miserable yet again on Sunday. They're the lowest scoring offense in the NFL. Wilson looks like a shell of the player he was with the Seattle Seahawks. He didn't crack 100 yards passing until about halfway through the fourth quarter. It's obvious Hackett won't make it to a second season, and the question most Broncos fans have is why he was still coaching them in Week 12.
It's not just that the Broncos are bad. They're bad and also perhaps the least entertaining team in the NFL. That's a bad combination.
Chicago Bears: When you face a superstar quarterback like Mike White, there's not much you can do. Still, the Bears now know their season is beyond repair.
Justin Fields sat on Sunday, smartly, with a shoulder injury. It was still ugly in a 31-10 win against the New York Jets. White, starting for Zach Wilson, rejuvenated the offense. He had 315 yards passing. That says a lot about the Bears defense, which traded away Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn before the deadline. The Bears offense was led by Trevor Siemian, and while it started OK, Chicago didn't score after the first minute of the second quarter.
The Bears are 3-9 and there is no reason to rush Fields back. At least there's next season to look forward to.
Titans offense: The Tennessee Titans are a very good team at 7-4, a huge favorite to win their division, but games like Sunday are a reminder that they'd need to hit a lot of green lights in the playoffs to make a run.
The Titans struggle on offense. Their only touchdown on Sunday was a wild fumble recovery in the end zone by receiver Treylon Burks. Other than that, they didn't reach the end zone in a 20-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Titans don't usually beat themselves, but they had a bad penalty late in the loss. Kevin Strong hit the long snapper on a Bengals field-goal attempt and was given an unnecessary roughness penalty. Instead of getting the ball back trailing 23-16, the Bengals could just kneel on it.
Tennessee probably wouldn't have scored the game-tying touchdown anyway. They had just two field goals after halftime. The Titans are good, but they'll have a tough time in the playoffs stringing together multiple ugly wins in a row.