Luckily, yesterday's game was only 1 of 16. It was only one game, folks. The Houston Texans are still 3-2, still unbeaten in the division and conference, and one bad Sunday does not mean the season's over. It was a bad game, but now it's on these professionals to respond like professionals who just got embarrassed on their home turf. However, next week's expectations are for later this week. Take a deep breath, and let's take a look at what went wrong yesterday.
Yesterday's post-game comments mostly seemed directed at Frank Bush and his defense. It appears that the blame for yesterday's loss is going toward the Cover-2 Zone. I understand that the defense has not played too well this season, but let's look at some stats.
Defensively, the stats are actually not that bad. The Texans held the Giants to 36% on 3rd down conversions. The defense forced two turnovers and held Eli Manning under 300 passing yards. The defense even limited the New York rushing attack to under four yards per carry. The big problem? Eli Manning rarely saw any pressure and wasn't sacked at all. When the pass rush can't generate consistent pressure then we know our defense is going to have its hands full.
However, I don't (totally) blame Frank Bush's defense for the loss. People tend to gloss over the offense because it has a more proven track record, but they deserve to feel some heat for yesterday's loss. In fact, I believe the torches and pitchforks should be pointed at Rick Dennison's squad for yesterday's debacle.
New York was coming off a performance where they knocked Chicago quarterbacks to the trainer's room. You would think the Texans would come out ready to slow the pressure down with a lot of screen passes, draw plays, and quick throws. Apparently, the coaches tried to out-think themselves. At a glance, the Houston gameplan appeared to be pass early since no one would be expecting that. Unfortunately for them, the Texans did as New York wanted since the New York pass rush would prove to be a problem.
Justin Tuck and company were able to harass Schaub and force him to get happy feet. The Giant defensive line also knew that the Texans like to hit the middle of the field, so they attacked with hands up to deflect passes. The result? Matt Schaub was hit seven times, sacked three times, and only completed 47.1% of his passes which killed drives.
What's that? You wanted more runs and Arian Foster? New York was ready for that, too. The Giants took away the edges and maintained backside discipline to take away the cut-back run. Yet, the Texans thought they could hit the edge against a fast and prepared New York defense. Eventually, the offense moved away from running altogether due to lack of early success and getting down by 21.
To summarize, the New York defense was prepared and knew exactly what Houston wanted to do. The sad part? The Texans continued to try what wasn't working. It's the same square peg into a circle hole mentality that we've seen from Dennison's offense this season.
Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison should have counter-punched with misdirection bootlegs, runs up the middle, and quick outs. Where were the screen passes? Heck, where have the screen passes been all season? How about a draw play? Where was the quick out to Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen? Heck, Owen was the best weapon yesterday, but he, nor Dreessen, saw only seven targets. Where was max protection? Gary and Rick, where were any of these adjustments? You hung your defense out to dry with a bad offensive performance.
In the first quarter, the Texans offense had four drives - all of which had fewer than four plays. The defense could never get on the sideline long enough for a breather or to make any sort of adjustments. We don't know whether that extra time to adjust would have made a difference or not, but I wish we had a chance to see if it would have.
Instead, the defense was trotted out to defend bad field position. The Giants started two of their four 1st quarter drives at their own 45 or better. New York took advantage of the field position and had three touchdowns before anyone knew it - including a touchdown after Matt Schaub forced
In the 3rd quarter, the Texans defense delivered three straight three-and-outs - two of those on Sherrick McManis and Kareem Jackson interceptions. How did the Houston offense respond? Matt Schaub was strip-sacked near mid-field, and Matt Turk came out to punt at his own 38 yard line. The Texans did score a touchdown on the third drive, but the offense had already blown a great chance to climb back into the game and gain momentum.
The defense is not a perfect unit, but, pass rush aside, they actually performed better than I had expected going into Sunday's game. It's too bad the offense couldn't give them a hand yesterday.
That's where I lay the blame for yesterday's loss, but what about you BRB-faithful? After a night to think about it, what went wrong yesterday? Who has something to prove on Sunday? An even bigger question: How do you feel about Rick Dennison's play-calling after five real weeks of it?