The Houston Texans have defeated the Miami Dolphins 30-10 in the opening game of the 2012 season. What started out as a sluggish affair, with neither team establishing an advantage, was eventually turned around by the Texans’ defense in the second quarter.
Three interceptions and a fumble resulted in three touchdowns and a field goal, building an insurmountable halftime lead for Houston. The only touchdown of the game for Miami came on a Marcus Thigpen 72 yard punt return early in the third quarter.
The yardage for both teams was not that far apart, with 275 for the Dolphins and 337 for the Texans. As is often the case, the turnover margin translated directly to the margin of victory.
The inability to run the ball with any consistency was noted by Gary Kubiak in his press conference after the game, and referred to it as “something he has to address.” Check the rest of this report card for the reasons as to why this critical area did not produce as anticipated.
Matt Schaub — B+
How can you win by twenty, have a 102.4 passer rating, and earn anything less than an A grade? When two receivers, Johnson and Daniels, account for 206 of your 266 passing yards someone must be held accountable.
The touchdown by Lestar Jean that did not hold up to a challenge up becuase he was led a little too far by Schaub. It was not because he lacked the arm, as often accused, but the pass was off just enough.
A small complaint, but if Schaub is unable to involve more receivers in the passing game better teams will roll coverage to other players. It is up to the veteran QB and Coach Kubiak to spread the ball around or bear the consequences.
Arian Foster — C+
What is supposed to be the strength of this offense played liked Samson without his flowing locks. Much was made of Foster’s conversion to veganism, and like his diet the running game had lacked its usual “meaty” statistics.
Foster had 26 carries for 79 yards and a 3.0 average. It may be too soon to grab a cheeseburger or a ribeye steak, but you have got to wonder. His two touchdowns are the only reason his grade is not a C-.
Ben Tate — D
If Foster’s stats were lacking, Tate’s were almost nonexistent. Five carries for six yards and a 1.2 average will not help get Ben the contract he’s looking for in the offseason. In fact, he could find Justin Forsett getting his snaps if he does not pick it up.
The offensive line must bear some of the responsibility for this deficiency, and they will be dealt with further on.
Andre Johnson — A
Apparently, thirty-one is not too old and frail to keep torturing defenses designed to stop you. Eight catches for 119 yards and a touchdown showed he is still the No. 1 receiver on this team, and that he has not lost a step at his advanced age.
Kevin Walter — C
Walter caught both of the passes thrown him for a whopping 18 yards. Those in the know keep talking about all the things he does that do not show up in the box score. Someone other than Andre has got to put some numbers up sooner or later, else the passing game and its intent will become too obvious to ignore.
Lestar Jean — B
One catch for 9 yards will get you a B grade if you force the pass coverage to account for you on most downs. The catch that wasn’t in the end zone got in the heads of the Dolphins and helped keep the pressure off Johnson.
Keshawn Martin — D
Drop the only pass that is thrown your way after doing the same thing twice in the preseason game, and watch DeVier Posey come off the inactive list for the Jaguars next week.
Owen Daniels — B+
All concerned on the Texans’ offense should be grateful there is at least one pass catcher beyond Andre Johnson with a pulse. Daniels may have only grabbed half of his eight targets from Matt Schaub, but half of the 87 yards gained were crucial in two of the Texans scoring drives.
Garrett Graham — Incomplete
Graham had a bunch of receptions in the preseason but not a single target in this game. This is through no fault of his own, as he only made it into the game for a few snaps
Duane Brown — B
As usual, Brown covered the quarterback’s blind side sufficiently. Even though Miami ran some stunts with Cameron Wake to his side. But Brown is also getting a pass based on previous service, as the running game over either side of the line was pitiful.
Wade Smith — C-
The interior of the offensive line was of little help when the Texans’ went to the ground game. Smith is supposed to be the better off the two guards starting, but looked as inept as his partner Antoine Caldwell at times.
Chris Myers — C-
I kept hearing Karlos Dansby’s name being called throughout the game, and he is Myers’ primary object of attention. Not an auspicious way to justify the big contract he signed to remain a Texan.
Antoine Caldwell — D
According to Craig Shelton, host of “The Cut” on KCOH here in Houston, he saw Caldwell get beat on his outside shoulder during the game. This is after his inside shoulder was thought to be his weak point last year. Sign of the right side of this line reads: “Under Construction. Enter At Your Own Risk.”
Derek Newton — C-
Like Duane Brown, Newton gets a pass but only because he is new to this job. And everyone knows his first game is just the long line in a series of learning experiences. Until then, do not expect anything more than a trainee level of competency.
Antonio Smith — B
Smith gave us his usually steady game, and with no penalties this time. His half-sack does not reflect the attention he received from RT tackle Jonathan Martin and sometimes RG John Jerry on most every play. This freed up J.J. Watt to wreak his havoc from the other side.
Shaun Cody — C
It could be his back is not fully healed, but at time the center of the defensive line looked marshmallow soft. Reggie Bush looked like Walter Payton at times in the first half, but had fewer carries once the Dolphins fell behind. It is not all Cody’s fault as Wade Phillips defense is often vulnerable up the middle.
J.J. Watt — A+
Just when you suspect this guy has reached his ceiling, he plays like his job is up for grabs. How many other DEs affect the games in so many ways?
Three tackles do not seem like much, but combine them with 1.5 sacks, a tackle-for-loss, and three tipped passes. “One man wrecking crew” is a tired cliché, but not when applied to this disruptor.
Tim Jamison — B
The first defensive linemen off the bench recorded a sack in some mop up duty. The Texans appreciate his value and announced signing him to an extension after the game. Jamison would be a starter on most teams, and is worth every penny to Houston.
Brooks Reed — B
The entire defense took awhile to warm up, Reed included. Once the turnovers began to pile up, he got to tee off a little even if there were no sacks in his ledger. Listed as questionable before the game, he played anyway and did not embarrass himself.
Brian Cushing — B+
Cushing may have led the defense with seven tackles, but struggled to contain Miami’s running game in the first half. His interception in the second quarter was the second of three that turned the game Houston’s way.
Bradie James — B-
James was saving himself for the regular season after his preseason play raised questions. Like Cushing, he benefited from Miami falling behind in the second quarter after looking a step slow before that. He finished with four total tackles.
Tim Dobbins — C+
Dobbins left the game late in the second half with a neck injury after rotating with Cushing and James for most of the game. His status is unknown at this time.
Mister Alexander and Jesse Nading — C
Both had spot duty while trying to keep the frontline LBs fresh. Each had a single tackle in the game.
Connor Barwin — B+
The Texans’s sack leader from 2011 did not get one in this game, but brought the pressure throughout. His pressure was directly responsible for the first interception by Johnathan Joseph.
Johnathan Joseph — A
The Texans best DB did not disappoint as his interception started a landslide of Miami mistake. The first of three in the second quarter, it may have only led to a field goal but must have affected Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphin’s QB finished with a 39.0 passer rating due no TDs and the three INTs.
Kareem Jackson — B
The Dolphins went after Jackson, as most teams will given Joseph is on the other side. He acquitted himself admirably. The receivers he covered were targeted ten times, but he only gave up one long pass all afternoon.
The deflected pass that ended up in his hands led to Arian Foster’s second touchdown, and the end of Miami’s chances in this game.
Glover Quin — B+
Quin had his hands full with Anthony Fasano, Tannehill’s favorite safety net when all else fails. He was also asked to blitz several times, and backup the run when the LBS freelance in the pass rush. With all he has to handle, including blitzing when needed, his six tackles were a nice bonus.
Danieal Manning — B+
Manning also gets some of the credit for Tannehill’s passer rating, because he is the final line of defense in most formations. Miami completed only one deep pass all game, and his patrolling of the deep zones is one of the reasons why.
Brice McCain — B+
As the Texans’ nickel back, McCain is in on every passing down. He plays the middle zones, and kept the Dolphins from using that area to get back in the game. His five tackles helped the cause as well.
Qunitin Demps — B
Demps was kept over Troy Nolan and many wondered why. But Nolan’s absence went unnoticed and Quintin collected four tackles to boot.
Trindon Holliday — C
The biggest story of the Texans’ preseason had little impact one way or another. The story might have been different if the kickoff he muffed in the end zone had led to a turnover. Instead, the offense had to start on their own four-yard line.
Holliday is a volatile weapon that can both hurt and help the cause. He will continue to be the kick returner as long as he does not backfire on the Texans.
Shayne Graham — B
Graham was three of four on field goals with his only miss coming from 52 yards. The only way your average kicker will earn more than a B from me is to hit from beyond fifty or win a game in the final minute.
Donnie Jones — B-
What can you say about a punter? Jones averaged 43.6 yards on five kicks and only put one inside the twenty.
Gary Kubiak — B
The challenge on the Lestar Jean touchdown added to Kubiak’s poor challenge record. But he had to do it given it was a potential score. I hope the public cuts him a break on this one.
When it comes to the almost total lack of reliability in the running game, I am clueless. Yes, Miami has a couple of Pro Bowlers in their front seven and were third against the run last season.
But this poor showing confirms every fear about the offensive line. And not just on the right side, because the Texans could not get it done in either direction.
They have one gimme game against the Jaguars to get it fixed, as the defense of the Denver Broncos in Week 3 will not be as cooperative as the Dolphins’ offense was today.
Wade Phillips — B+
On this team, the defensive coordinator gets a grade. In fact, without the all the gifts of field position the Texans’ defense gave to the offense we might be talking about the biggest upset of the day. That is what adds the plus to his B grade.
Miami may have only gained 79 rushing yards on the day, but playing from behind made Ryan Tannehill attempt 36 passes and helped keep their ground game in check. The same ground game that tore through Wade’s front seven in the first half.
Maurice Jones-Drew is back with Jacksonville and Rashard Jennings was not half bad in the preseason. Phillips has the same week to stop what Kubiak needs to get going.