(CBS SPORTS) - Houston, you have a problem. And it starts at quarterback.
This was supposed to be the year that Bill O'Brien's offense made serious gains. The Texans gave Brock Osweiler $37 million guaranteed and added a top-tier free-agent running back and another speedy receiver in the draft. The expectations were set at finally making a serious run in the postseason and defending the AFC South title.
Well, lucky for the Texans, the AFC South is as brutal as ever, and they remain the only .500-or-above team in the division. Even without J.J. Watt, they'll hang around and compete for a home playoff game.
But if this team is going to fulfill its hopes of January success, and if this quarterback is going to fulfill his big-money contract, he's going to have to elevate his play. Significantly. And quickly.
Yes, the Texans faced a truly elite defense on Sunday in Minnesota, which certainly had something to do with the outcome of a 31-13 Vikings win that really wasn't even that close. But Osweiler has been shaky at best all season and the Texans offense has been among the worst units in the NFL. With the defense naturally going to spiral sans Watt, this team had better get some stuff figured out ASAP.
Making the commitment that Houston made to get pedestrian-at-best play from the quarterback position is the kind of decision that can lead to big problems down the road. The Texans best make the most of the subsidy they get by playing six games within the AFC South because I suspect they'll struggle mightily against teams outside the division.