Monday, September 19, 2011

Heat, Humidity, and Fins no match for Texans

              The Texans beat the Dolphins in week 2 "the old fashioned way", by winning the Time of Possession and Turnover battles. The first of two turnovers the Texans had was caused by the new outside linebacker Mario Williams. Mario hit the arm of Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne on the first play of the second quarter. The ball floated in air for at least five minutes before Jonathon Joseph, the Texans newest cornerback, picked it off and was downed at the Fins seven yard line. That turnover lead to a Matt Schaub to Owen Daniels touchdown, the first in the game, putting the Texans up 13-3.
             The first turnover put a breath of life into an offense that sputtered in the red zone in the first quarter coming away with six points not the fourteen that should have been on the board. The early second quarter score would be all the Texans could muster until Neil Rackers field goal at the end of the half.
              In the second quarter the Dolphins had two drives into the red zone. They ran the ball up the middle with ease on the legs of rookie running back Daniel Thomas. Who finished with 107 yards on 18 carries. If not for touchdown saving tackles by Glover Quinn the out come of the first half would have been a lot different. The Dolphins also had some help from a huge pass interference penalty on Kareem Jackson, (SHOCKER), on their second drive of the quarter.
              Who ever said Dolphins are smart were not referring to the offensive play calls in the red zone. After running the ball, at will, the Fins decided to switch to the pass. Allowing the Texans to swat down a pass, put pressure on Henne, and receiver Brandon Marshall to drop a sure touchdown. The Dolphins play calling lead to two field goal attempts for kicker Dan Carpenter. Attempts you ask, why did you write attempts? Well the first field goal attempt was a line drive shot which defensive end J.J. Watt knocked down with his big bear paw. The second... The second was just a poor kick that found itself wide left. If i was Dan Carpenters agent I would be entertaining offers from the CFL.
                With the last possession of the first half, Schaub threw a bomb to Andre Johnson setting up the field goal which put the Texans ahead 16-3 at the half. Now one would generally be happy with a 16-3 lead at the half, and I think the Texans faithful were. The second quarter did showcase a major weakness of the Texans defense. Running the ball between the tackles. If not for some poor play calling in the red zone the game could have taken a nasty turn. However, I was impressed that the defense did not give up any big plays, ie 20yds. or more. Aside from the one big pass interference penalty on Jackson. Holding teams to field goal attempts and causing turnovers is just what the offense ordered when they signed Wade Philips.
             With their second possession of the third quarter, the Fins gave the Texans defense a different look. Chad Henne and the Fins offense went "no huddle" and ran only two different plays; or at least it seemed that way. The Fins again ran the ball between the tackles with Thomas gashing the Texans defense. They also took advantage of sidelined cornerback Jonathon Joseph's replacement, by throwing to Brandon Marshall for their only touchdown of the game. Jason Allen was well over matched by the Fins #1 receiver. Not the return Allen wanted against his old team.
              The Texans played poor in the third quarter shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and poor blocking from their offensive line. On their second drive of the half, Matt Schaub was sacked twice swinging the momentum in favor of the Fins. On the very next possession the Texans defense answered with a turnover. Thomas was again gashing the defense between the tackles when Kareem Jackson put his helment on the ball knocking it loose. Glover Quinn the Texans safety jumped on it stopping the bleeding.
             On the Dolphins first drive of the fourth quarter they once again found themselves in the red zone and once again tried to take advantage of Jonathon Joseph's absence by throwing to Brandon Marshall. This time the Texans were prepaired doubling Marshall with Allen and Manning. The Texans held them to a field goal which brought the score to a unconfortable 16-13.
             With the game on the line the Texans did somthing Houston fans had not seen in the past. They buckled up their chin straps and tightened their cleets. In five plays the offense went 63yds. and capped it off with a Schaub to Johnson touchdown pass. That touchdown put the Texans ahead 23-13 and in control of the game. In the Dolphins final two drives of the game, the defense had 3 quarterback hurries, one batted ball and one huge sack by Antonio Smith. The defense came through in the end and allowed Ben Tate, who finished with 103 rushing yards, to run out the clock and win the Time of Possession battle 34:06 to 25:54.
             The team showed some grit for the first time in franchise history, and they will need plenty of it next week in New Orleans. They have some things to clean up and will have to worry about communicating due to crowd noise, something Dolphin opponents do not worry about in September. Putting pressure on Drew Breese and keeping Ingram from running inside are the two major worries next week. IN WADE WE TRUST,  is Texan fans new motto. I hope his defense can deliver.

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Peyton No Points

Ind. 7 at Hou 34

         First off, we will talk positives. It is obvious that the "Son of Bum" changed this teams pass rush along with the entire outlook for the Texans season. The Texans had 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Wade Phillips defense only gave up 236 yards from scrimmage, most of those coming in garbage time at the end of the game when the Texans were in a prevent defense and the game was well out of reach. The defense cause the Colts to punt 6 times in the 23 min and 16 sec that they had possession of the football. Collins was only 16 of 31 attempts for 197 and 1 TD late in the game. Compare that to the Texans 384 yards from scrimmage and the fact that against Rusty Smith, we gave up over 300 passing yards last year. Rusty who? Exactly! The main thing to remember here is that the Texans got a win against a division opponent, and if the Texans want to make the playoffs this year they must win most if not all of their division games. All Houston fans know that one win at the beginning of a season does not guaranty anything, not even a 4 and 2 start for that matter. if the Texans want that always evasive playoff birth they must execute in all 3 phases of the game all season and stay healthy. On that note lets talk injuries. Kevin Walters left the game with a shoulder injury. Reports coming out are saying its a broken shoulder and he could be out 10 - 12 weeks. Revision Walters has a bruised collar bone and is day to day. That is bad news to say the least. The Texans have only 4 wide receivers on the 53 man roster and the forth is a player only signed about 2 weeks ago in Bryant Johnson. The team had high hopes for Dorin Dickerson but he failed to make the team, getting cut after the 4th preseason game.
This should force the team to bring up Jeff Maehl the rookie receiver out of Oregon. Jacoby Jones with have to be the 2nd receiver and must replace the 51 receptions and 621 yards Walters gave them last season. Derrick Ward left the game with a right ankle injury but it does not appear to be serious at this time.
        Next week the Texans will face the faceless Miami Dolphins in Miami. The Fins will be playing Monday night against the Pats and we can get a good look at what they bring to the table. The Texans will get a days head start on them, and having the extra day to lick your wounds is always a plus in the "not for long" leauge. Matt Schaub must do a better job in his decision making. The 2 INT's he threw against the Colts may not be so easy to overcome against the Fins, or any team with a so-so defense. Ben Tate, though he ran for 116 against the Colts also put the ball on the ground and is all he will hear about this week from the coaches. The linebackers did not do a great job ,against the run, filling in the gaps behind the defensive line. Cushing and Ryans did a poor job sheading blockers and Connor Barwin, the favorite son of many a Texans fan this preseason, did not make a play all game, against the run or the pass. When Collins had time to pass the Texans secondary did little to keep the Colts receivers from getting open, however I will say that their form tackling was much better then in previous years. Antonio Smith is a man, and should get close to 10 sacks this year. JJ Watt will have to learn to break down at the point of attack. He over pursued many times against the run and pass in his first NFL start. If Smith see's the double teams throughout the season like he did in the first game JJ can be a force up the middle. Mario Willams got two sacks in game one and 2 forced fumbles. Not a bad start, but both of those sacks can when the Colts only blocked him with a tight end. Mind you that teams will not do this often, but this defense will make those mismatches for him. He must take advantage of them when they arise. 34 to 7 not bad Gary not bad.

NFL Week 1 Summary

Week 1 Games                         Spread

NO 34     @    GB 42                N/A
PIT 7      @    BAL 35              BAL 1.5
ATL 12   @    CHI 30              ATL 2.5
CIN 27   @    CLE 17              CLE 6.5 
IND 7     @    HOU 34             HOU 8.5
TEN 14   @    JAC 16             JAC 2
BUF 41   @    KC 7                 KC 5.5
PHI 31    @    STL 13             PHI 4
DET 27   @    TB 20                TB 1.5
CAR 21   @    ARI 28             ARI 7
MIN 17   @    SD 24               SD 9
SEA 17    @    SF 33               SF 5.5
NYG 14   @    WAS 28           NYG 3
DAL 24   @     NYJ 27            NYJ 5.5
NE          @     MIA                NE 7
OAK       @     DEN                DEN 3