Houston Texans Vs Indianapolis Colts: How The Texans Can Pull Out a Win
The Houston Texans will square off against their arch nemesis’ the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday morning at Reliant Stadium.
Since the inception of the Texans organization they have played the Colts twice a year for the last 8 years. Over the 16 times these two teams have met the Texans have only come away with the win once.
This should be grounds to qualify as one of the highest levels of frustration points for fans among professional sports in the last decade.
Many believe that this season offers the Texans their best chance to bring that record all the way up to 2 and 15. If that is the case, the best shot they are going to have is at home on opening day.
Here are ten things that are going to have to click in order for the Texans to come away with the big “W” against the Colts this weekend.
1. Pass Rush
First and foremost, the Texans defense is going to have to apply pressure to Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who is rumored to have sold his soul to acquire sickening ball distribution skills.
Teams, like the New Orleans Saints, who have had success against the Colts, have been able to upset the rhythm of Manning by forcing him to continuously pick himself up off the ground. For the Texans to stand a chance they will have to find a way to get Manning on his back.
The Texans are going to need their first overall pick Mario Williams to get up and stay up in the face of Manning for the entire game. Williams was drafted to accomplish this feat, and will need to cash in on the investment opening day.
Super Mario will need support for his pass rush to truly be affective. Other high draft picks on the defensive line will have to contribute.
First round pick Amobi Akoye will need to provide pressure in the front of the pocket, and second round pick Connor Barwin will have to fly in from the edge. This has to be full speed and full bore every snap. Manning is notorious for exploiting defenses when they relax.
All this will have to be done without the natural abilities of 2009’s defensive rookie of the year Brian Cushing, who is not allowed at any team activities for four weeks.
So, look for defensive coordinator Frank Bush to implement some interesting blitz packages to try and confuse Manning, or should I say, meet the devil at the cross roads.
2. Coverage Skills
The second, yet simultaneous, effort that needs to click for the Texans to win against the Colts this weekend is the very young secondary are going to have to cover like veterans.
The Texans are going to be relying on sophomore Glover Quin, and rookie first round pick Kareem Jackson to hold down their islands at the corner positions. Both players are going to be tested early and often by the cunning of Peyton Manning.
They need to cover well enough to give the defensive line the time to capture the ever elusive Manning.
Also, it would be a plus if fourth year safety Bernard Pollard could come away with a pick or two, as he did against Tom Brady in the last game of the season in 2009.
This secondary is going to have to pick up right where they left off last season, without the currently injured Dunta Robinson who left for a bigger pay check.
3. Run Game
Needless to say the best way to stop the Colts from scoring is to keep Manning off the field all together, and the best way to do that is to run the ball down their throats.
The Texans are going to have to utilize their new and improved running attack, and take chunks of time off the clock with each possession. The one time the Texans beat the Colts, it was largely due to Heisman Trophy winning running back Ron Dayne just refusing to go down.
Second year running back Arian Foster should watch that game footage for additional incentive, before this weekend’s game. Foster’s performance so far in 2010 gives hope for this team to control the clock against the Colts once again.
As third year change of pace back Steve Slaton, and free agent recently signed Derrik Ward step in behind Foster they need to protect the ball. Turnovers in the run game have hurt this team as recently as the last time these two teams faced each other.
When running back Ryan Moats fumbled on the one yard line during the second game against the Colts last season hearts sank. Then Manning drove 99 yards for a score, and eventually came back from a 17 point deficit to will the game.
Make sure they have their sticky gloves on when they come out of the tunnel on Sunday afternoon.
4. Red Zone Productivity
If there has been one issue with the Houston Texans that has glared at us all for the last four years during the Kubiak area, it has been poor red zone productivity.
The Texans offence was a subpar 52% scoring in the red zone in 2009, 45% in 2008, and digresses from there.
The same goes for the defense side of the ball. The Texans are going to have to begin to put together some real goal line stances in 2010, and they are going to have to start on opening day.
This change must begin on Sunday afternoon; because Neil Rackers red zone field goals will not drive the Texans score up high enough to compete with the Colts red zone touchdowns.
5. Pass Protection
With all the talk and concerns about the Texans containing the Colts high powered offence this weekend, it is important not to forget they have a fantastic defense to deal with as well.
Last season Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis combined efforts surmounted to 23 sacks. These guys are excellent pass rushers, and major contributors to the Colts successes.
That being said the Texans are going to have to keep Matt Schaub off the turf this weekend. Tackles Eric Winston, and Duane Brown are going to have to provide Schaub the time needed to toss deep balls to wide receivers Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones.
If Shaub should go down, and back up Dan Orlovsky has to step in… Well, we might be chanting the word “Leinart” sooner than any of us are prepared to.
7. Game Management Maturity
The seventh item on the list of things that are going to have to click in order for the Texans to beat the Colts this Sunday is game management maturity.
Coaches are going to have to call the right plays in the red zone, not half back passes, as we did against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Challenge flags are going to need to come out of the deep pocket of head coach Gary Kubiak as controversial calls arise.
The clock needs to be monitored and utilized so we do not leave any opportunities to score left on the table, as we did this preseason against the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the game.
Matt Schaub will have to move up and quickly snap the ball on the one yard line after a potential fumble, and not call time out so the Colts can throw their challenge flag and overturn the call on the field.
The defense will need to get ready quick between plays, and not let Manning catch them celebrating a big hit.
The Texans as a whole have lacked game management maturity in the past, this weekend, and hopefully throughout the 2010 season this needs to be a shortcoming of the past, and this team to grow up to attain the next level.
6. Field Position
The battle for field position is going to have to be won by the Texans for them to come out ahead of the Colts this weekend. Special teams are going to have to be on point.
When the ball is kicked off or punted we need our fresh young players like rookie linebaker Darryl Sharpton to get to the ball as it reaches the Colts returners.
Kicker Neil Rackers is going to need to prove he was the right choice with long high kickoffs, and Punter Matt Turk needs to be perfect on fourth downs.
Now the Texans returners are going to have to fly and, dare I say, even put some points on the board for this team to really give the Texans the best chance to win.
Punt returner Jacoby Jones will have to run after the catch not just sideways but burst towards the end zone. North and South young man.
The most exciting thing about the Texans special teams right now is the possibility that third year running back Steve Slaton will get a chance to run a kick back. This could be the most dynamic use of his ability, and if he is the returner there will be thousands butts on the edge of their seats in Houston and Indianapolis alike.
Heal Slaton’s strained toe…Heal.
8. 4th Quarter Finish
Another area that the Texans have struggled with in past seasons that will need to be addressed in order to beat the Colts this Sunday is finishing games strong.
Have you heard the saying around this team that goes, “the tail of two halves”?
The Colts are the best fourth quarter team in the league, and to date, the Texans are the worst. That is why the season ending win against the Patriots last year was so amazing. The Texans won in the fourth quarter, it was close, but they won.
This team will have to find a way to stay strong, constant, and aggressive the entire game.
Maybe they should consider Red Bull over Gatorade.
9. The 12th Man
On opening day the air around Reliant Stadium will be electric. Buzzing with potential, excitement, and the desire to see the Texans upset the Colts.
Fans will be in all white, the stadium will be full, and for the Texans to have a chance to win, the stadium needs to be loud.
Every third down that Manning steps under center fans need to make it their personal goal to cause Manning to take a time out.
Fans have to make it impossible for Manning to shout out audibles as he is so prone to do, with their voices.
So, Houston make sure you drink your tea with lemon the night before the game, and be ready to shout a difference for your organization.
10. Distract Manning
Finally, when in doubt play the old, “look up there, an airplane” trick on Payton Manning.
What’s the only thing that can distract a man better than an airplane? Remember the 2000 movie with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves…The Replacements?
The Texans cheerleaders need to make their presence known. They need to dance with the intention of distracting Payton Manning from their spots on the sidelines.
The Texans cheer leaders are the hottest in the league, and it is time for them to use that as an advantage.
Let’s see some real effort girls, we know you can do it.
It's worth a shot.