Houston Texans: 6 Reasons Team's 1st Real Test Comes vs. Green Bay Packers
The Texans will face the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets before the Packers come to town in Week 6. The team can't overlook these opponents, but with the way the Texans are playing right now, it's hard to imagine the Texans at anything less than 5-0 heading into the Packers game.
Here are six reasons why the team's first real test comes in Week 6 against Green Bay.
Wade Dominates Young Quarterbacks
Wade Phillips has been the difference for the Houston Texans since joining the team as the defensive coordinator.
Wade's defense has been particularly tough on young quarterbacks.
The Texans swarmed Ryan Tannehill in Week 1 with pressure and forced the young quarterback to throw three interceptions.
The Dolphins scored only 10 points, and Tannehill was given a rude awakening by a Texans defense that held the rookie QB to a 39 quarterback rating.
Houston's defense was just as cruel to Blaine Gabbert a week later, when the Texans held him to just 53 yards passing on 19 throws. It resulted in a 62.8 quarterback rating and a blowout 27-7 win for the Texans.
Wade's mastery over young quarterbacks goes back to last season, when Blaine Gabbert, Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman and Andy Dalton all struggled in losses to the Texans.
The Texans will see Jake Locker for the first time as a starting quarterback in Week 4. Wade has shown the ability to stump young quarterbacks, and this trend should continue Sunday against the Titans.
Last Year's Week 7 Trouncing of the Titans
The most convincing victory from the Texans' 2011 season was a 41-7 thumping of the Titans in Tennessee.
It was one of the most surprising performances in franchise history, and it sparked a seven-game winning streak that essentially carried the Texans into the playoffs.
Matt Hasselbeck started the game for the Titans and finished with a 38.8 quarterback rating. Hasselbeck threw the ball 30 times for 104 yards.
Locker has shown the ability to throw the ball downfield more effectively, so a repeat of Hasselbeck's putrid production shouldn't be expected. However, taking more chances downfield will require time in the pocket, which isn't something the Texans are giving quarterbacks these days.
The dominance of the Titans in Week 7 last year was a team effort. The defense was dominant, and the offense had their way with the Titans in every aspect of the game.
After watching last year's win on the road against Tennessee, it's hard to imagine the Titans leaving Reliant with a win. A blowout shouldn't be expected, but the Texans should cruise to a relatively easy win over the Titans.
Jets' Poor Defense
The New York Jets haven't held an opponent under 20 points in any of their three games this year.
They'll now face the tough task of fixing their defense without the NFL's best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, who is out for the year with an ACL injury.
New York's defense lacked talent to begin with, and the loss of Revis could open the floodgates to serious defensive problems going forward.
The Texans will face the Jets in Week 5, which is bad news for Rex Ryan as he tries to keep the Jets afloat.
Houston might be the most difficult offense to prepare for in the NFL. Even if the Jets had Revis, merely gluing the Pro Bowler to Andre Johnson all day wasn't going to be a guarantee of success. Houston managed to blow out the Jaguars in Week 2, a game in which Johnson recorded just three catches for 21 yards.
The Jets have managed only three sacks through three games. They've allowed 446 rushing yards on the year, which ranks them as the fifth-worst rushing defense in the NFL.
New York's defense hasn't seen a great offense yet in 2012. When the Texans visit New York for Monday Night Football in Week 5, the Jets will face their toughest defensive challenge yet.
Jets' Offensive Struggles
As much as the New York Jets have struggled on defense, the offense has seen its fair share of struggles as well.
After shocking the NFL world with a dominant blowout win over the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, New York's offense has returned to its terrible preseason form.
Mark Sanchez followed up his quality Week 1 performance with quarterback ratings of 66.6 and 58.2 in the next two weeks. He's barely completing over 50 percent of his passes on the year, and he has thrown more incompletions than completions in consecutive weeks.
The Jets' offensive ineptitude doesn't end with Sanchez, as running back Shonn Greene has only mustered 2.8 yards per rush this year. The Jets have only one rushing touchdown as a team.
The Texans will see a Jets offense in Week 5 that doesn't seem to have an answer for all of its problems. Houston could be leaving New York in two weeks with a 5-0 record.
Texans Not Satisfied
The Texans beat Peyton Manning on the road for the first time in franchise history last week, and the team didn't see it as a reason to celebrate.
The Texans have raised expectations in the locker room in the past year, and it's to a point where no one regular season victory will satisfy this team.
Gary Kubiak spoke about the team's attitude in his Monday press conference (via the Houston Texans' official website):
I tell you what, this group really impresses me. It’s like yesterday, we come in after the game and it wasn’t like there was a bunch of dancing in the locker room or anything. They were proud of winning the game, but they were disappointed that they didn’t close the game in a type of fashion we had played three quarters and five minutes. The way we had played the game there we’re in great shape with 10 minutes. They’re very focused from that standpoint.
The Texans have tougher games going forward, and Houston's attitude is ideal for a team trying to win a Super Bowl. A hangover from last week's big win on the road in Denver shouldn't be expected.
Aaron Rodgers will be one of the best quarterbacks the Texans have faced under defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips.
Going back to last year, the Texans have had a few issues when facing elite quarterbacks.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints managed to score 40 points in an early-season loss to the Saints. Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens scored 29 in a Week 6 loss to the Ravens. Cam Newton had his way with Houston's defense late in the year, although Wade Phillips was hospitalized for the game and wasn't on the sideline.
The Texans need to prove they can beat the elite signal-callers in the NFL. Last week's win over Peyton Manning and the Broncos was a big first step toward this.
Defeating Rodgers and the Packers in Week 6 would be another major step toward the Texans further establishing themselves as one of the elite teams in the NFL.
Houston can't look past the Titans and Jets, but the Packers appear to be the next major test for the Texans.
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