Thankfully the Houston Texans came out of week 2 with a hard fought win over the Tennessee Titans. They made some big plays and got some huge breaks that fell their way, but it wasn’t all fun and games. Incredible intensity levels by both teams led to some “interesting” altercations from even the quietest factors like Andre Johnson. A wild 2nd half melee on the Texans sideline resulted in the ejection of Titans Defensive Lineman Jason Jones and a personal foul being given to Texans Wide Receiver David Anderson. The fight quickly escalated, but was ended just as fast.
I’m sure the NFL will be billing a number of players a nominal fine once they review the tapes and see all the punches thrown. Matt Schaub won’t be receiving one though. He tried to stay out of the fight and exchange friendly words with Titans coach Jeff Fisher, while keeping an eye on the Titans bench to make sure no one took a cheap shot at him. Schaub had a huge game passing for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns, which was definitely part of the good that could be taken from the game. He also showed the confidence that the Texans players need from their Leader, but seemed to be lacking in week 1 against the New York Jets. We knew he had it. Now the challenge is to show it every single week!
Andre Johnson also had a big game after stumbling in the early minutes. His two touchdowns were certainly exciting to say the least, one of which was an incredible catch on the side of the endzone. Johnson would have had one more, but the pass was just slightly overthrown and he got trampled by Titans Defensive Back Cortland Finnegan.
Owen Daniels showed why he is such an integral asset to this offense and Jacoby Jones stepped up into the shoes of a starting receiver making some big plays. Despite several great catches including a magnificent touchdown, Jones did get extremely lucky that a bobbled punt was ruled as “Fair Catch Interference”. Although it helped the Texans in this situation, that’s probably a rule that should be re-evaluated at some point in the near future.
Kubiak and Shanahan showed their ability to call something other than a run play at the goal line, which resulted in a quick strike to Owen Daniels for the score. The Offense showed run. The Defense expected it. And the Texans coaches…exploited it. It was a very nice coaching call.
I have mixed emotions about how the Defense played. In the end, they did what needed to be done to win a game. They played with fire in their pants, made some great plays, created turnovers and were able to get some pressure on an immobile Kerry Collins. Also, for the second week in a row Rookie Brian Cushing was all over the field making tackles. Dunta Robinson showed flashes of his innate ability to be a teammate and play for the team. I was happy to see him helping other players up, making plays, giving high fives and showing that his little money issues…may have just been “all talk.”
These were the good aspects of the Defense that have me looking toward next week’s game against the Jaguars.
But…then there was the bad. When Running back Chris Johnson touched the ball, he was able to make the Texans Defense look a little silly. Granted he’s a talented player who will make big plays from time to time, but this game got a little out of hand. The secondary seems to still be unsure of what to do with the cut-back lanes to keep a runner from cutting back to wide open field. Johnson exploited this element to blow up the field on his 91 yard scamper. Then at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, somehow he was left wide open for a 50 yard pass play. It was pretty disgusting to say the least.
Luckily though, that is all that the Titans were able to get going on Offense and after that long pass, the Texans Defense did something I wasn’t sure if they were capable of doing: adjusting. They adjusted to match what the Titans were throwing at them and they had a very strong second half that eventually led to a win. That adjustment could be the turn-around for the Defense in this early season.
Chester Pitts going down is also another bad element of this game. It’s difficult to lose someone who has been an ironman throughout the history of this franchise, but I believe Kasey Studdard will step in and do just fine filling in for the injured Pitts.
While the Texans definitely showed some good and a little bit of bad…there was also some ugly. Steve Slaton’s performance was just not what we know we can expect from him. Something has gotten in his head and limited him to under 2 yards per carry as he tries to make holes out of running into the back of his own linemen. He also had two fumbles, which combined with his fumble last week are becoming a very unwanted trend. Whatever has gotten into his head, he needs to get over it and get back to being the Slaton we all know and love. I had expected him to break out last week against the Titans, but it didn’t happen. I think we should all continue to be patient though. He will come back. I’d bet my house on it.
All signs from this game whether good, bad or ugly were vast improvements over the blunder against the Jets. The win over the Titans have given the rest of us hope once again for the Texans to have a break out year. Expect them to continue this week as they take on the Jags in full Battle Red! Go Texans!