The Houston Texans' nightmare 2013 season is finally over, and the players and remaining coaches are left picking up the pieces of a year that began with Super Bowl hype and ended on a 14-game losing streak. Players vented their frustration after a 16-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans dropped that gave them a final record of 2-14.
"I would be ignorant if I said after (14) losses that we are still the same team and we are still a good team," said defensive end J.J. Watt told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. "We had some major things go wrong this year and we had some major letdowns. When you lose this many in a row, you have to fix something. We have to find it - we have to find what to fix."
"This team will never be the same," Texans special teams standout Bryan Braman said. "You'll never have this team again. ... It's a huge letdown. You love something so much that you want it to continue. You don't want it to stop."
Major changes are certainly in the works in Houston. Head coach Gary Kubiak was fired after Week 14, and it seems unlikely interim coach Wade Philips will be retained in that capacity. Matt Schaub, the long-time franchise quarterback, could also be on his way out after a season that saw him benched over most of the second half.
"It's very disappointing and I think it's something that no one could foresee, certainly," said Phillips, who has declined to say whether he would return as defensive coordinator if a new head coach is hired. "We got in a whirlwind and it never ended.
There is plenty to be optimistic about in Houston -- the Texans have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft and a solid group of corp players including Watt, linebacker Brian Cushing, running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson -- but the team has plenty of work to do in order to reestablish themselves as a legitimate contender.
"You have to make a self-commitment to being greater than this," said defensive end Antonio Smith, "because this is how you don't play football.