Texans, Dolphins bring long skids into Hapless Bowl

Field Level Media

November 03, 2021 at 10:20 pm.

When the 1-7 Houston Texans visit the 1-7 Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it will not exactly be must-see TV.

In fact, the fan bases of both teams have likely covered their eyes for much of this season as Miami and Houston enter Sunday on dueling seven-game losing streaks. They own the worst records in the AFC.

The teams have been connected this year by a months-long Deshaun Watson trade rumor that failed to materialize before Tuesday’s deadline.

Watson, who has been a healthy scratch all season, asked for a trade earlier this year. The Dolphins are among the teams he reportedly would have waived his no-trade clause for, but they passed on making a move due to his unresolved and well-chronicled legal issues.

The Texans, who are plodding through their longest losing streak since 2013, are coming off a 38-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. Houston scored 22 consecutive points in the final eight-plus minutes of the game, taking advantage of Rams backups.

Texans coach David Culley said he is “frustrated and disappointed” by Houston’s season, but …

“I’m not discouraged simply because of what I saw at the end,” Culley said of his team’s late rally against the Rams. “These guys are not going to quit.”

The Texans, who are off for 14 days following the Dolphins game, would love to get a victory before their bye week. But for that to happen, they will have to figure out how to win on the road, where they are 0-4 this season.

Then again, the Dolphins are 0-3 at home.

It’s a tough game for Las Vegas to figure out, but the Dolphins are six-point favorites.

The teams haven’t met since 2018, when the Texans beat the Dolphins 42-23 in Houston.

Much has changed since then, including at quarterback, where Miami is playing Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins’ first-round pick in 2020. Houston’s QB is rookie third-round pick Davis Mills.

Tagovailoa has made marginal improvements in several areas this season, but he has struggled in three key areas.

First, his durability continues to be a concern. He had at least one serious injury in college, and he missed three games due to fractured ribs earlier this season.

Secondly, his interception rate has almost doubled from 1.7 percent last season to 3.2 in this campaign.

Last, and this is not all on Tagovailoa, the team went 6-3 in his starts last season but just 1-4 in 2021. Tagovailoa has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and an average of 208 yards per contest.

Tagovailoa’s issues — along with that of the entire team — have taken their toll on Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who waited nearly an hour before finally addressing the media following this past Sunday’s 26-11 loss at the Buffalo Bills.

“I just kind of sat there,” Flores said when asked what took him so long before fulfilling his media responsibility. “This is a number of losses in a row.”

Meanwhile, Mills’ struggles have been even greater. He has an even higher interception rate (3.8) than Tagovailoa, and he has yet to win a game (0-6). He has completed 67 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and 193.9 yards per game.

Mills’ top playmaker is wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who leads the Texans in receptions (51) and receiving yards (585).

Miami’s top playmakers are wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker, and tight end Mike Gesicki. Waddle, a rookie first-round pick, has a team-high 48 catches for 413 yards. Gesicki has 40 catches for a team-high 475 yards. Parker is third on the team in receiving yards (327).