HOUSTON - Houston coach David Culley insists the Texans are working hard to be competitive each week and are not throwing in the towel in hopes of gaining a higher draft pick.
The first-year coach was asked why he’s sticking with veteran Tyrod Taylor at quarterback instead of using these last eight games to develop rookie Davis Mills and focus on the future with Houston’s season lost after dropping the past eight games before Sunday’s bye.
"Our football team basically goes out and tries to win the next ballgame," Culley said. "That’s always the goal. (Draft picks) have never ever been mentioned ... those guys, every game they go out and try to play to win."
Culley said his staff worked most of last week evaluating everything about the team while the players got a break. As they resume play Sunday at the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans, Culley said the two biggest things they’re focused on are eliminating turnovers and penalties.
"There’s going to be a relentless effort from me and on down to our staff to make sure that we do a much better job of doing that, because those are the two things that are keeping us from doing what we need to do," he said.
Houston’s 17 turnovers are tied for fifth most in the league and the team’s 552 yards of penalties are the 12th most. With just one win, the Texans trail only the winless Lions for the worst record in the NFL.
Culley believes the Texans could have won three more games before the bye if they’d simply done a better job of limiting penalties and turnovers, though those are far from their only issues.
Houston ranks last in total offense (280.1), 31st in yards rushing (75.8), 29th in yards passing (204.3) and is last by scoring just 14.2 points a game. But the problems aren’t just limited to offense as the defense is 30th in yards allowed a game (385.9), 31st in yards rushing (136.9) and 29th by allowing 28.7 points a game.
Mills had nine turnovers in the 6½ games he played after taking over in the second half in Week 2 after Taylor was injured. Houston lost every game with the third-round pick under center, but there was hope that things would improve with the return of Taylor two weeks ago.
Instead, he tied a career high by throwing three interceptions as part of a terrible performance in a 17-9 loss to the Dolphins that gave Houston its longest skid since dropping the final 14 games of the 2013 season.
Culley has repeatedly said that Taylor gives the team its best chance to win. And he’s stood by the 11-year veteran despite his recent struggles.
"He’s our starting quarterback," Culley said. "He was our starting quarterback before he got hurt. He’s our starting quarterback now."
Culley, who spent decades as an NFL assistant before landing this job, is confident that Taylor and the rest of the team will play better after the break. He said he isn’t worried about the Texans’ morale because they see his attitude and will follow his lead.
"They know that everything is going to be positive," he said. "We’ve just got to make the corrections. They trust what we’re doing, we’ve just got to do it better."