There certainly is a buzz this week among Houston Texans players and fans. I’m as big a fan as there is, but I think fans need to hold their enthusiasm in check just a little to avoid possible let-downs. I’d prefer to see the Texans in the playoffs come January, but its way early to be crying “play offs” again.
While the Texans showed promise and a lot of heart last Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, there are still quite a few elements that they MUST work on before they can truly be called contenders. The obvious is getting both their running game and run defense up to par and out of the basement of the NFL. After the first two weeks of the season, the Texans are dead-last in the league in both categories.
Making the necessary adjustments to improve these two areas is integral in the development of this team being successful this year. While Matt Schaub and the Offense proved they could move the ball for over 400 yards against the Titans despite a lack-luster running game, they are still missing the “ball control/clock management” element that a stable running game provides. If you control the clock, you can win most games. Granted this didn’t work for the Dolphins Monday Night, but they had no defense to stop Payton Manning who did what he had to do to win a game with just 15 minutes of possession.
This is why the Texans must improve their Defense as well as the running game and then…only then…can they truly control games.
Going from Week 2 to Week 3, the Texans are making strides. Although they’re dealing with the fact that ironman Left Guard Chester Pitts sprained his MCL in his right knee Sunday, they seem to be making the necessary improvements and adjustments to give the run game a boost. Sadly breaking a 114 game streak of starting every game since the beginning of the Texans, Coach Kubiak states that he knows Pitts will miss some games. How many is yet to be determined.
Pitts will have arthroscopic surgery today which will help find out the severity of the injury and how much time he’ll miss. In the mean time, ex-Longhorn wild-man Kasey Studdard will be preparing to step into the starting role. Pitts had been struggling with injury all Pre-season and may not have been actually playing at 100% in the first two games. Having a young guy like Studdard who foams at the mouth to pancake defenders step in at 100%, could be one of the boosts the Texans need to spark the run-game. Studdard stepped in when Pitts went down against the Titans and that was just about the time that things got rolling for the Texans offense. He’ll miss assignments, but expect Studdard to really benefit the Texans offense this Sunday against the Jaguars.
In an interview on Houston’s SportsRadio 610, Eric Winston seemed confident in the improvements that are being made and in his Quarterback. He said that last week Schaub was throwing “B.B.’s,” acknowledging that out of his 39 pass attempts, 25 were completions and another 5 to 6 were drops. That kind of accuracy really shows Schaub’s potential. The team knows it and stands behind him as a leader.
When asked about the running game improvements, Winston stated that Tennessee “fits the run” better than any other team in the league; meaning that they are a tried and true run-stopping defense. The one time that the Texans running game was able to break out for a 12 yard gain was the one time that the Texans offense was able to put a blocker on every defender who was playing the run. All other times they over-loaded the box, assignments were missed and the running game was stuffed.
The good thing is now the Texans know what’s been going wrong, but as GI-Joe used to say, “knowing is have the battle.” Now they will have to prepare for the Jaguars smash mouth run defense and be ready to show the fans and the rest of the league that they can run the ball. Chris Brown should see more touches this week, which will hopefully light the fire in Steve Slaton and get him playing the way we all know that he can. The Redskins have signed Running back Anthony Alridge off of the Texans practice squad this week, so Brown, Slaton and the occasional Moats carry should be all that we see this week against the Jags.
Not to go unmentioned is that fact that the Texans Defense will also need to be working this week on making the necessary adjustments to stop the Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jacksonville running game. Jones-Drew is a small, strong runner who reminds me of a bowling ball. He runs over people, spins and runs over the next guy, all the while possessing a good amount of speed to break away when he needs to. Although the Jags running game is limited by two rookie tackles, if the Texans don’t work out the kinks, this could be another embarrassing run defense performance.
Sunday’s game won’t be easy for Schaub and Company. The Jags come into this game 0-2 and will certainly be playing like they have something to prove. The Texans better be ready. If they aren’t, this could be a very upsetting loss to both the players and the fans and a tremendous set-back to the season.
Other Texans news between Week 2 to Week 3 includes Jacoby Jones pleading guilty to DWI charges that he received in a 2008 traffic accident. Thankfully, the Texans won’t lose Jones to any jail-time, but he will have to attend alcohol education classes and have a breathalyzer placed in his vehicle for a year. Although this is a negative stamp off the field for a positive week for Jones on the field, he says that he has realized his mistake and learned from it. Let’s hope so.
Let’s hope next Humpday there are some good things to reflect on about Battle Red Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Have thoughts on how this game will turn out? Let me know in a comment!
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