As passionate as I am about your Houston Texans, I generally try not to overreact to a single game. Admittedly, I sometimes fail. This is one of those times. With that warning in mind, go ahead and skip the rest of this post if you're looking for pick-me-ups or they'll-get-'em-next-times. After yesterday's latest kick to the collective groin of the Texans fan base, those commodities are in relatively short supply. Not totally absent, but scarce. Let's get to it. We'll even start with the good:
1. One horrendous early pick aside (and it was a horrible throw/decision in every sense of the word), Matt Schaub played very well. He hit seven (7) different receivers, and it would've been eight if Joel Dreessen's TD catch hadn't been nullified by Kevin Walter's alleged offensive pass interference. As we saw in Tennessee, Schaub will put points on the board for this team if he's given time to throw. His greatest flaw is not his durability. It's his inability to play defensive back.
2. Kevin Walter makes this offense so much better that it's not even funny. He did a tremendous job adjusting his routes whenever Schaub got in trouble, and he works the middle of the field better than any receiver the Texans have ever had. Most importantly, he showed no signs of that tweaked hamstring.
3. As I texted BFD during the game, how is it that Jacoby Jones' hands can be so sure at WR yet such a liability in the return game? I know he didn't put the ball on the ground yesterday, but what does it say about your return man when every fan in the stands is praying that the ball will go over his head on every kick?
4. What was the general consensus on Kasey Studdard's first start? Overall, I thought the offensive line did a solid job in pass protection and a decent (as in, it got better as the game progressed) job run blocking. Although I was nervous about Studdard's debut, Schaub stayed upright for the overwhelming majority of the game and didn't appear to take many hits, so does Studdard get a passing grade?
5. I remain as perplexed as ever about Steve Slaton. While he looked better than he has all season, had a couple of 10+ yard runs, and a made monstrous 22 yard catch on third down late in the third quarter in what was easily his best game of the young season, Slaton still appears to be bracing for first contact whenever he takes a hand-off, which is something I don't recall him doing last year. Whatever the cause of his struggles, said problem(s) render Slaton, and to a large extent the running game, a total afterthought in the red zone. If the Texans were inside Jacksonville's 20, Slaton wasn't getting the ball.
6. Was it just me, or did Andre Johnson once again seem to go way too long between targets?
7. Owen Daniels already has the same number of TDs in 2009 that he had in all of 2008. He and his agent have to be rather pleased with that. Quick...someone check his Facebook to see if he's expressed that glee in print.
8. Helluva call by Kyle Shanahan to run K-Dub on 4th and 1. No one saw that coming.
And that's enough praise. On to the other side of the ball...BFD already did yeoman work pointing out the myriad inadequacies of the defense, so I'm going to do my best not to repeat him. Bear with me.
9. Words cannot describe how much the Houston secondary sucks. They do not cover, and they do not tackle. Fred Bennett might as well have a bullseye on his back, and I'd be even more down on him if not for this FanPost making such a convincing case that Bennett is merely the unfortunate whipping boy of a doomed scheme. Right or wrong, however, watching him get attacked did bring back memories of how Petey Faggins virtually sported a neon flashing "THROW HERE!" in place of a number during his tenure with the Texans.
10. The safety play simply cannot get any worse. I now wonder whether Eugene Wilson and his appallingly deficient counterpart should just line up a few steps inside the pylons before every snap.
11. Dunta Robinson made two (2) big-time plays on Sunday--he had a great deflection, and he had that strip of Sims-Walker late in the fourth. He still prefers diving at ankles to wrapping up, and his overall play continues to make me think that he'll never get anywhere close to the deal he turned down from the Texans from any other team this off-season. In that regard: Good news, Dunta. Keep it up and there's no way the Texans will franchise you again.
12. Brian Cushing continues to show he has a real nose for the ball. Unless David Garrard has the ball, in which case he freezes and lets Garrard waltz into the end zone untouched. Lest anyone think I'm being unfair in that assessment, I'll readily admit that Garrard was almost certainly in regardless of how Cushing reacted, due to the wide swath of open field and the complete absence of any help on that side of the field. But Cushing did freeze, and he didn't lay a finger on Garrard as he crossed the goal line despite appearing to be in position to pop him.
13. Staying on Garrard--his stats were totally pedestrian, but watching the game, I would've sworn he had much better numbers. It seemed like he made a play every time one needed to be made.
14. The numbers make a pretty damning case for Frank Bush being a bad defensive coordinator with a bad scheme. After being subjected to Richard Smith's virulent opposition to the concept of blitzing for three (3) years, I love that Bush seems committed to sending more than his four linemen after the QB. What I don't love is that bringing that additional pressure leaves the middle of the field wide open and further exploits a terrible secondary. Whereas I once thought that blitzing would buttress a crappy secondary (e.g., the QB has less time to throw and thus the DBs don't have to cover as long), I'm now forced to question that stance. Then again, if you don't blitz, you're asking a pathetic secondary to cover their assignments even longer, and you know that isn't going to work. Bush seems damned if he does and damned if he doesn't in that respect, doesn't he?
15. No matter how much you might blame Frank Bush for the atrocities his defense has visited upon us the last three weeks, you cannot blame him for the lack of talent, especially in the secondary. There's not a DB on the roster who would start for a good NFL team.
16. There will be a separate post concerning what happened during the last four minutes and twenty-five seconds of the game, and I should have it up sometime tomorrow (Tuesday). Here's a teaser: I found Gary Kubiak's strategy so amazingly poor that I lost my mind during the end and immediately after the game. Now, more than 24 hours later, that emotion has crystallized into the first real, sustaining doubt I've ever had about whether Gary Kubiak should be coaching your Houston Texans.