Houston Texans Report Card: Why Gary Kubiak's Secondary Is Failing This Team

Philip LombardoCorrespondent INovember 15, 2010

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10:  Wide receiver Steve Smith #12 of the New York Giants  races down the sidelines as cornerback Kareem Jackson #25 pursues at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

A quarter of the way into the season, the Texans stood at 3-1.  Everyone and their mother hopped on the bandwagon hoping this was the year that they finally make the playoffs and maybe even earn their first division title.

I'll be the first one to admit I was driving the bandwagon in the preseason, let alone after they trounced Indy in Week 1 and started hot.

But, teams started adjusting to their offense—who still ranks in the top 10 in passing and rushing yards—and their defense hasn't been able to pick them up since. 

The Texans D is a young and pretty inexperienced unit that has suffered injuries to DeMeco Ryans and was without Brian Cushing for the first four games. So things haven't exactly worked in their favor this season. 

But there is a point in the year when you aren't living up to expectations, that you have to analyze what your glaring problems are and why things aren't working as planned.  You can then make the necessary alterations to your game plan or lineup, giving your team the best chance to weather the storm and win the game.

For Gary Kubiak, it is clear what the weakness is—his secondary. 

The group consisting of Glover Quin Jr., Kareem Jackson, Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson has really struggled to stop anyone this season, even teams with pedestrian passing stats. They rank dead last in passing yards allowed, surrendering over 300 yards a game and have only managed to intercept five passes—two of those coming from backup safety Troy Nolan.

After Ryans went down, the pass defense got even worse—if that's possible—and stopping the run became a chore as well.  Houston ranks 15th in yards against the run, which isn't terrible, but still shows room for improvement.  I guess when you are so bad against the pass, you try to overcompensate, and in turn, it hurts your performance against the opponents rushing attack.

Looking at the secondary a little closer, I think it is pretty easy to determine the players to keep around and who are the weak links. If I were part of Houston's coaching staff, a changing of the guard would probably be in order. 

Bernard Pollard is a good player.  He has great instincts and is a confident leader who makes people pay with his bone-crunching hits, but he has been one-dimensional this year—effective against the run, but not the pass.  He has forced two fumbles and brings a certain attitude and grittiness to the defense that they desperately are looking for in everyone else.

Eugene Wilson is another veteran guy whose strengths lean more against the run than the pass.  He is a guy with a ton of experience and Super Bowl rings to show for it, but he is 30 years old and could be losing a step.  I'd stick with him right now to maintain a veteran group at safety to help these young struggling corners.

Speak of the devils, Kareem Jackson and Glover Quin Jr. have really been the exploited ones in this group.  They are having a lot of trouble letting guys behind them, getting beat deep for big plays almost every week it feels like. 

Jackson was a first round pick last year out of Alabama, so he knows what its like to play with a championship team and one of the best defenses in football, but he hasn't showcased what he had in Bama so far this season.

He has two interceptions this season, and has shown good break on routes, but he gets caught guessing a lot and lacks the physical presence to be a number one corner at this time.  He was a great player in college and Kubiak has said repeatedly that he believes this guy is going to be a star in the league, but he needs to eliminate the big plays against him.

Glover Quin Jr. is a guy who has really been picked on and has not shown much development over the course of this season.  In nine games this season, he has recorded no interceptions, forced fumbles and has only five passes defended.  When teams are throwing on you as much as they do against Houston, its hard to believe that a starting corner can only get his hand on five footballs through nine games, without an interception.

This past week, Quin Jr. had 13 solo tackles.  Normally, you would consider that a great game and by all means, those are pretty good statistics.  But when you couple that with the fact that he was making tackles on receivers who had beat him down or across the field, the numbers don't match the performance.

And to make matters worse, Glover was nice enough to choose batting a Hail Mary pass over catching it when it was thrown to him.  I say nice enough because not only did he not cost David Garrard an interception that was handed to him on a silver platter, he batted that ball into the waiting hands of Jaguars wideout Mike Thomas who stepped into the end zone on the final play of regulation to seal the Texans fate, sending them to the basement of the AFC South.

I know defensive coordinator Frank Bush doesn't really have many options behind Quin Jr., but at this point, the Texans are 4-5 and are currently last in the division once again.  Brice McCain and Sherrick McManis are the backups, and I don't think it would hurt to test them a little bit with some more first team reps during practice to see if they can translate their success there onto the field on gameday.

They both are very speedy and quick to the ball, but also have a lot of holes in their game, making decisions hard for the coaching staff in Houston.

If you couldn't already tell, I am giving the Houston secondary a big fat "F" for their efforts in the first half of the season.  They can possibly turn things around, but with all the repeat mistakes they make each week, things look bleak.

In a 2010 season that started out with promise and excitement, it has quickly turned to pointing fingers and frustration as the division looks farther and farther from the Texans' reach as each game passes.


Phil Lombardo is a Bleacher Report writing intern and a senior journalism/mass communications major at St. Bonaventure University.

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