This weekend the Texans are going to be facing a team in transition. A team that is learning to adapt to a new coach and philosophy on both sides of the ball. On offense, the key will be how our o-line handles a 3-4 front, something that has troubled the team in the past (although usually because of a stud NT; who knows how Fat Albert is going to play).
On defense, however, I'm guessing we're going to use a lot less nickel and therefore we're going to see three linebackers on the field most of the time. That means that Xavier Adibi is going to be on the field a lot. Does this fill you with dread? I have to admit that it kinda makes me a bit nervous.
Let's talk about how I think the Texans should handle Adibi after David Lee Roth makes us jump.
The way I see it, the Redskins' offense has two or three threats the Texans will have to focus on (which is nice in comparison to the four or five threats the Colts have). One of them is Donovan McNabb, who can make plays with his arm and his legs. Another one is Clinton Portis, hero of free speech. And the third is tight end and amateur nude model Chris Cooley. Cooley, who averages 11 yards per catch over his career, may not be Dallas Clark, but he's a pretty good imitation. I expect Cooley is going to line up as an h-back a lot, meaning both the Sam and the Will are going to see him on their side of the field.
Adibi, as we all know, hasn't really been injury-free and/or in the coaches' good graces since he was drafted. He saw significant playing time in the preseason (though not as much as Cushing, for some unknown reason) and - despite what the announcers seemed to think - was pretty inconsistent. The book on Adibi was that he was undersized but had good speed. He's put on a little bit of weight this season, but he doesn't have a lot of playing time under his belt.
Considering the strengths of the Redskins' offense, I expect our linebackers are going to be tested in this game more than any other defensive unit. Obviously Ryans is going to continue to be a beast and Diles is going to go on being the BEST. SEVENTH. ROUND. PICK. IN. TEXANS. HISTORY. But Adibi is clearly the big question mark.
So, if you're Frank Bush, what do you do? Now that you've discovered that you're not allergic to ketchup, how about a little relish? I'm a big believer that controlled aggression can hide a team's weaknesses long enough to keep the other team from exploiting them. I'd like to see more of that. As has been documented many times over, Bush's defense did a good job confusing Manning at certain key times. Jesse Nading standing up and hovering in the A-gap? Let's do it. Dropping a lineman back into coverage and having Amoeba (or EMFM if Amoeba pulls up lame) rush from the end position? Now we're talking. Anything to confuse McNabb and keep him off balance. If we can do it to Peyton Manning, we can do it to Donovan McNabb.
Additionally, our pass rush needs to be on its game. It may not be as dominant as it was against the patchwork Colts o-line, but we need to get good pressure on McNabb while keeping him from beating us with his legs. The 'Skins are starting a rookie at left tackle who seemed to play well against DeMarcus Ware last time out, but as TexansDC pointed out, he's going to be facing a different test entirely against Mario Williams. Furthermore, I believe Williams is a better pass rusher at left defensive end, and I expect to see him take quite a few snaps at that position.
In the secondary, I fully expect our unit to play the same: Keep everything in front of you and don't get beat deep. However, since the 'Skins don't have the receiving corps that the Colts do, I'd like to see us sneak in more than a few corner and/or safety blitzes. I mean, we have Bernard Pollard on our team. Let's put him to use.
Ultimately I think we're going to win this game. But to do so, we're going to need to make sure that Adibi isn't hung out to dry. So for me, Adibi is the key player in this game.
What do you think, BRB? Do you think Frank Bush is going to throw some relish on that hot dog?