Houston Texans: Arian Foster Shut Down and Brian Cushing Not Enough in Loss
Arian Foster, Brian Cushing, Andre Johnson and the rest of the Texans team were not ready for the all out aerial attack of Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants?
Sounds a bit strange when read back, none the less it is absolutely the truth.
For the second time this season it seemed that the Texans were outmatched, out coached, and out played from the word go.
Now that it is time for this team to regroup and lick their wounds, there needs to be a look at some of the top and bottom efforts from the second loss this season for the Texans in front of fans at Reliant Stadium.
Second year rookie of the year Brian Cushing returned to the field of battle for the first time since the final game of the preseason after missing the first four regular season games due to suspension.
After only practicing for three days Cushing performance was solid. He made four solo tackles and five assists for a total of nine tackles on the day. He also was able to contribute to the pass defense with one pass defended, and several pressures on Eli Manning.
Seeing how he has not suited up against an opponent for over a month he fared well, however he was not the savior this defense so desperately needed to get out of dead last in the league.
In fact his impact so far is not even as significant as the addition of strong safety Bernard Pollard in the fourth game of the 2009 season, where the Texans defense began to rise from 32nd to 13th against the run.
It was good to see him on the field, and his contribution level should rise as the season progresses.
Although the Eli Manning and the Giants, mostly Hakeem Knicks, put up just under 300 yards and 3 touchdowns passing on the Texans secondary, there was one good thing that come of the day.
Both of the Texans rookie cornerbacks came up with their first NFL interceptions in the contest.
First round pick from Alabama Kareem Jackson took one away from Manning, and returned it for 23 yards. Unfortunately the Texans were unable to capitalize with points on the turnover.
The first interception of the game was made by the 5th round pick from Northwestern Sherrick McManis for a one yard return. This was followed by the only touchdown scoring drive the Texans were able to put together.
This is the second game of the season that the young Texans secondary has been able to make plays on the ball. This new found phenomenon will have to grow in order for the Texans defense to improve.
Andre Johnson's 95 Yards
The highest paid receiver in the NFL Andre Johnson was back on the field for the 5th game of the season against the Giants on Sunday.
Johnson seemed to have a slow start, and the timing between him and his quarterback Matt Shcaub was not on point for the first half of the game.
By the second half he started to put his mark on the game. Catching five passes for a total of 95 yards the longest of which was for 48 yards that could have been the spark to start the Texans second half rally that never materialized.
Averaging 19 yards a catch Johnson was one of the only Texans players that did not visibly quit on the game until it was truly over. Once again proving how much fight, and desire to win wells up inside of the veteran receiver.
In the games that this team has walked away with victories, it has been because the rest of the players find a way to match the determination of the only hall of fame caliber receiver in the league yet to make it to the post season…
Kicker Who Hits
When this team cut long time kicker Kris Brown and signed Neil Rackers it was a very tough decision for the coaches to make.
Since that time Rackers has not lost or won the Texans any games, and for now that is because it has not been asked of him. He has made nine of his eleven field goal attempts, and every extra point.
The thing that sets him apart and is worth noting is that he will strait up sacrifice himself and tackle a returner.
On the opening kickoff against the Giants on Sunday he made the opening tackle, and it was a hard hit. This is at least the third special teams tackle he has made this season, and he was all over the place during the preseason.
Next time the Texans line up to kick off the ball, make and effort to track the line of veteran kicker Neil Rackers. You just might be surprised to see where he ends up as the return unfolds.
Leading Rusher Denied
The Texans sophomore running back Arian Foster remains the league’s leading rusher after the 5th game of the 2010 regular season.
This is an amazing statistic since the running back was only able to squeak out 25 yards on 11 carries. Averaging 2.9 yards a carry is by far the lowest productivity the running back has accomplished all season.
The Giants were able to dominate the Texans in the trenches, and this proved to be the undoing of Arian Foster. If the offensive line and fullback Vonta Leach can create a push Foster is outstanding. On the other hand, if they are outmatched as good as Foster is he showed defensive coordinators this weekend that he cannot create yards on his own.
With the game film the Giants put out on how to stop the Texans rushing attack, expect other teams to begin to shut Foster down as well.
Well the Texans offence has been very powerful so far this season despite the loss to the Giants on Sunday. The team leads the league in rushing, and quarterback Matt Schaub is on track for another 4000 yard season.
The concern is that Schaub’s timing seems to be a bit off this season. His deep passes often over shoot the receiver, or the receivers have to slow down in coverage traffic to let the ball catch up to them instead of plucking it out of the air in stride.
As well, he is not his usual cheerful self. He wears a long face all the time, and does not seem to be having any fun on the field.
Maybe he misses Kyle Shanahan and Kubiak should arrange a play date. Or maybe he is jealous of the press the newly charged running game is receiving. It could also be that he has been sacked 14 times in 5 games and thrown 5 interceptions all leading to opposing points.
Whatever it is Schaub needs to take some St. Johns Wart, suck it up, and get back to the Prow-Bowl MVP caliber quarterback this city fell in love with.
Not So Special Teams
During the 2009 season the Texans special teams units were strong contributors to the teams first winning season ever.
In 2009 the Texans’ punt return game yielded an average of 10.9 yards a return, while so far in 2010 it is averaging 10.8 yards a return.
As well in 2009 Texans kick returner Andre Davis averaged 23.7 yards a return while this year’s returner Steve Slaton averages 19.6 yards a return
The averages are not that far apart from season to season, what is killing the Texans special teams productivity is penalties. There was not a Texans return on Sunday’s game against the Giants that the Texans did not pick up a holding or clipping penalty.
This kind of undisciplined play has hurt this team in both loses of the 2010 season. This needs to be an area addressed this week during practice, and cannot continue to plague the Texans offensive starts in games to come.
With Jacoby Jones out with a calf injury, wide receiver David Anderson returned four punts for an average of six yards a punt.
In the game against the New York Giants on Sunday the Texans lost the battle of the trenches, and ultimately the game.
There can be many fingers pointed, and excuses made. Coach Kubiak can stand on the podium and take the blame for his team not being prepared, and he should. But the real issue was this Giants team came to beat the Texans, and the Texans came unprepared for that kind of physical mentality up front.
The defensive line did not show up till the second half, and it was too little too late. The Texans offensive line did not show at all.
Unsure of why this team comes to play every other game, but for the Texans to make it to the playoffs during the 2010 season both offense and defense are going to have to start showing a consistent effort where it really counts…the line.
The good news is the Texans offensive red zone efficiency improved to 100% for the game. They only made it to the red zone once the entire game.
32nd Defense in the League
Really? The Houston Texans have the worst defense in the league coming out of the 5th game of the season. Well that’s just not true. The Washington Redskins are now worse than the Texans.
The Texans have given up an average of 409.2 yards per game, and Redskins are at a whopping 410.2 yards a game. Yes that is just one more yard per game average. Not much to cheer about, but at least there on the rise.
The Texans defense has given up a total of 137 points so far in the 2010 season, and has been on the field for 326 snaps in only five games.
This staggering number has two interesting outcomes:
First, the Texans cannot stay in games if their offence is somehow contained, so every game the Texans have won has been a high scoring game.
Second, the Texans have two players in the top ten leading tacklers list for the entire league due to extensive time on the field. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is number four on the list, and middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans is not far behind at number six.
It will be interesting to see which one of these players comes out on top when all is said and done.
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