Houston Texans: The Good, Bad and Ugly of the First 4 Games of the Season
Through the first four games of the regular season, the Houston Texans have simply dominated inferior opponents to the tune of the first 4-0 start in franchise history.
The defense has turned in commanding effort after effort, and they have literally made life hell for opposing quarterbacks.
Aside from having a swarming pass rush, the Texans secondary play has been excellent, for the most part. Opposing quarterbacks have little time to throw with nobody open.
The offense has also been its deadly efficient self, taking huge chunks of playing time off the clock per drive on a consistent basis.
On such a great start to the season, it's tough to find anything wrong with this football team. Any problems the Texans have right now are likely overblown, and it will not be until the team gets into the harder part of the schedule that we get to find out what their true problems are.
Regardless, here is the good, bad and the ugly of the first quarter of the 2012 regular season.
The Good: J.J. Watt
The AFC Defensive Player of the Month might just becoming the Defensive Player of the Year, the way he has been playing.
Maybe MVP? Well, we'll have to wait and see on that.
J.J. Watt has been simply incredible so far this season, and his play so far has Texans' fans forgetting that Mario Williams ever existed.
Watt leads the NFL with 7.5 sacks, and his 20 tackles, 10 of them for a loss, isn't too shabby, either. Watt has also defended five passes, two of which resulted in interceptions for the Texans.
It's rare that a single defensive player, especially a 3-4 defensive end, can ever have such an influence over the results of a game, but Watt is doing just that.
Right now, I don't think any Texans' fans are still upset about the Texans not selecting Prince Amukamara in the 2011 NFL draft.
The Bad: Ben Tate
Last season, Ben Tate showed why the Texans decided to pick him in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft.
When Arian Foster missed the beginning of the season with a pesky hamstring injury, Tate stepped in and proved that he could be a starter of many teams in the NFL.
Tate, a perfect fit in the Texans' zone-blocking scheme, nearly rushed for 1,000 yards as a backup running back, which is extremely impressive. It's uncommon that a backup running back ever gets to make that big of an impact on an offense, but Tate was a consistent force for the Texans whenever Foster needed a break.
This season, however, Tate has been the essence of inconsistency. He rushed for a combined total of 43 yards versus Denver, Miami and Tennessee, but he did rush for 74 yards and two touchdowns against Jacksonville.
Tate needs to step and be more consistent for the offense, for he is actually much more important to its success than some give him credit for.
The Ugly: The Run Game
Ben Tate is struggling? Well, so is the rest of the Texans' rush offense.
The stats are by no means ugly or undesirable. In fact, many teams would be very happy to run the ball the way the Texans are.
The Texans, though, are certainly not very happy.
They are averaging a measly 3.7 yards per carry, but they have amassed a total of 546 yards. The problem is that they are gaining huge chunks of yards on some plays, but then on others they are repeatedly and consistently getting stopped.
If one were to take away the breakout runs, the average yards gained per carry would be much, much worse.
The Texans have built a culture on running the ball down their opponents' throats, but they have simply not done that yet this season. The offensive line is still in flux, and hopefully, the issue will be corrected soon.
The Good: Matt Schaub
What do you think of Matt Schaub's contract extension? Well, if you oppose it, then you're just wrong. Dead, dead wrong.
Schaub has been everything the Texans need and more this season. He runs the offense to perfection, and he steps up and makes the big plays when necessary.
For example, against Tennessee, the Texans had complete control of the game for the majority of it. Instead of attempting to take shots downfield, which would risk turning the ball over, Schaub thrived on the short passing game.
He was still able to move the ball, but he made sure the Texans took care of it.
Against Denver, however, when the the Texans needed to score much faster, Schaub proved that he could make big plays happen.
He threw two beauties to Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter for touchdowns greater than 50 yards, and he took big hits on both. Also, in the same game, Schaub took a monstrous and dirty hit that had all Texans' fans holding their collective breaths.
After agonizing in pain on the ground for a little, Schaub took off one play, but then demanded that he be placed back in the game.
Schaub is tough, and he is ready to lead the Texans to big things.
The Bad: Inconsistnecy on the Right Side of the Line
The right side of the line of scrimmage was the most highly scrutinized positional unit of the Texans' offseason.
Thankfully, they have not lived up to their foreboding predictions, but they have also not been as good as their predecessors.
Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston, well sometimes Winston, were a consistent and dependable unit. They contributed to one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL.
Derek Newton, Antoine Caldwell, Ben Jones, Ryan Harris and whoever else the Texans plug in on the right side of the line have clearly not been consistent.
They will play great for a good portion of the game but then go through stretches of extremely poor play. This is to be expected out of a mostly young, learning unit, and they will likely improve as the season progresses.
The Ugly: Brice McCain
Wait, Kareem Jackson isn't the most highly criticized member of the Texans secondary anymore?
Yes, Jackson has been consistently better than last year, but the opposite is true with Brice McCain. McCain, who was excellent for the Texans last season, is having some serious issues.
He is constantly getting beat by opposing slot receivers, and he was absolutely brutalized by Denver's Brandon Stokley, who caught six passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
In today's pass-happy league, teams love to spread the ball around to all of their receivers.
Teams like Green Bay and New England, both of whom the Texans will play this season, clearly love to utilize slot receivers, and they are essentially starters in their respective offenses.
McCain, therefore, will essentially be a starter for the Texans when they match up against the Packers and the Patriots. It also means that he will have to play a lot better than he has been right now.