By Kristie Rieken
HOUSTON — The Houston Texans are back below .500 and searching for answers to fix their stagnant offense as they begin their bye week.
There also might be a quarterback controversy brewing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick for 203 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for Houston, but struggled to move the offense for most of the day in a 31-21 loss to Philadelphia.
Coach Bill O’Brien cautioned against placing too much blame on the journeyman when asked if he would consider a change at the position to spark the offense.
“I think we have to evaluate everything,” he said. “I’ve said this all along, I don’t think you can look at one position and put all the blame.”
Ryan Mallett joined the Texans after three seasons in New England to back up Fitzpatrick. He raised eyebrows Sunday night with a tweet that he later deleted.
“I’m staying focused for when the time comes … seize the opportunity #justwaiting,” he tweeted from his verified account @Ryan_mallett_15.
He was in damage control on Monday morning despite deleting the tweet.
“Don’t misinterpret my last tweet,” the tweet said. “I’m not calling to be the starter. Frustrations of losing. I play my role. I am a team player first. Always.”
O’Brien has applauded his improvement over the past few weeks, but Mallett has almost no game experience despite being in the NFL for four seasons.
“He’s a guy that works extremely hard in practice, which is totally different than in the game,” O’Brien said. “In practice he seems to have good command of what we’re doing. He’s come in here with a good knowledge of the offense.”
Mallett didn’t take a single snap in two of his three seasons with the Patriots. He appeared in four games in 2012, but completed just one of four passes for 17 yards with an interception.
The 31-year-old Fitzpatrick has learned to ignore outside criticism in a 10-year career spent with five different teams. But he’s the first one to admit that he has to improve if the Texans hope to finish the season strong and says week after week that has to play better.
“He’s going to work extremely hard to play at a more consistent level like all of the players need to do,” O’Brien said. “4-5 is a very mediocre record and it’s the sign of an inconsistent team.”
He has thrown for 1,960 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his first season in Houston. He’s fumbled five times, but has lost just one of them.
Andre Johnson, the longest-tenured Texan after joining the team in its second season, was asked if he thinks the offense has improved since the beginning of the season.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Our record doesn’t show it. We just have to take a look at it and get it fixed.”
O’Brien was pointed with his statements that the entire team needs to do more after the break and that extends to the coach and his staff.
“We talk a lot as a coaching staff with our players that we’re really all in it together. There’s no finger pointing,” O’Brien said. “It’s not one guy’s fault.”
A bright spot on the offense this season has been the resurgence of running back Arian Foster after last season’s back surgery. Foster is second in the NFL with 822 yards rushing. But Foster hurt his groin late in Houston’s loss to the Eagles and it’s unclear how serious the problem is.
O’Brien wouldn’t provide any details on the injury to Foster.