Jaguars vs. Texans: 5 Things We Learned About Houston in 24-14 Win

Mike KernsCorrespondent IIIOctober 30, 2011

Jaguars vs. Texans: 5 Things We Learned About Houston in 24-14 Win

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    It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but at 5-3, most Texans fans will take it. 

    Equaling the best start through eight games in franchise history, the Texans are right about where most in Houston expected them to be at the halfway point.

    The Texans are in first place in the AFC South by half a game over the Tennessee Titans.

    After a fast start, both defenses dug their heels in for a slow burn that eventually saw the Texans finish with a 24-14 win in probably the ugliest game the Texans have been a part of in a few seasons.

    We still continued to learn things about the Texans today and we'll take a look at a few of them now.

This Is the Best Defense in Franchise History

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    Coming into this game, the Texans were eighth in the NFL in total defense in giving up only 302.9 yards per game.

    They should move up in those ranks today after only allowing the stagnant Jacksonville offense just 174 total yards.

    The Jaguars scored 14 points, but if were not for Texans turnovers, they likely would have been shut out today. QB Blaine Gabbert totaled only 97 yards passing and two interceptions.

    Wade Phillips is a defensive wizard and should be commended for turning this defense around as fast as he has.

Wade Phillips Is Coach of the Year Regardless of Being Defensive Coordinator

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    If the coach of the year award could be given to a defensive coordinator, it should be given to Wade Phillips.

    Everyone thought things would improve under Phillips' tutelage, but if anyone thought the Texans would have a top-10 defense this season, they were either the biggest homer in Houston or terribly jaded.

    The defense is getting turnovers, rarely missing tackles and getting off the field consistently on third down.

    Guys like Antonio Smith and Brian Cushing look like completely different players under this defense and one has to wonder if they're going to continue to improve as the season goes along.

Brian Cushing Is Playing Out of His Mind

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    An argument I had on the last podcast was that I wanted someone to tell me what Clay Matthews was doing that Brian Cushing isn't doing.

    Besides playing for an undefeated Packers team, no one could give me a legitimate answer.

    In a one-on-one matchup, besides being in commercials, there is nothing Matthews is doing to be much more of a game changer than Cushing is right now.

    Sure, Cush is always going to have the veil of suspicion over him for his past transgressions, but the guy is playing at a very high level right now and he should be recognized as such.

    Another solid day with seven tackles, one for a loss, and an interception. Let's not forget about a couple of hits on Blaine Gabbert, one of which knocked him out of the game. 

    This guy is just on another level right now.

DeMeco Ryans Needs To Improve with Darryl Sharpton Out

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    Darryl Sharpton just might be the most underrated player on the Texans' defense.

    You know why that is? Because you don't see him consistently giving up big plays.

    With him going down today in what is likely a season-ending injury, DeMeco Ryans is going to have to return to form real quick or the linebacking core could be in real trouble.

    Ryans' forte isn't in coverage, so I have to wonder if the team is going to scour the free-agent market.

    DeMeco is going to have to have to step up to his pre-2011 level of production to make up for another devastating injury to the Texans' defense.

    Ryans hasn't looked bad, but he sure hasn't looked like a $48 million linebacker so far this season.

Gary Kubiak Should Have the Challenge Flag Taken Away

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    I'm not sure what the exact winning percentage of Gary Kubiak challenges is, but I can say with confidence that it is a pretty poor number. In fact, it's probably close to his winning percentage as a coach.

    Today was another example of how awful the Texans head coach has been in five-and-a-half seasons at the helm. 

    Anyone with a 13-inch black and white television could see that both of his challenges today were futile, yet he wasted two timeouts in this game on worthless challenges.

    I could even understand the first one because it was close, but the Ben Tate fumble was apparent to people in the nosebleed section of Reliant Stadium today.

    It's no secret that I'm not the biggest Kubiak fan and the game today wasn't a big deal because Jacksonville is horrible. But I fear this guy blowing something like this in the playoffs and that just flat out scares me.

    Mike Kerns is a featured columnist for the Houston Texans at Bleacher Report. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @Zepp1978 and catch his latest Texans podcast at State of The Texans.