To get us ready for this weekends game with the Texans we have 5 questions with Battle Red Blog:
MCM- It seems in situations like the one the Texans have faced this week teams either come back with a great performance or they fall apart. Which one do you think it will be for the Texans on Sunday?
Battle Red Blog- The optimist in me says that they bounce back and put up a good fight. They were manhandled in the season opener at Pittsburgh. In the days immediately following the loss, the team was focused entirely on proving to the fans, and more importantly, to themselves that they were better than the team that got beat down in week one. Then came Ike, and their entire focus changed.
To be honest, this team doesn't have years of cohesion to fall back on, so it is going to be tough. The offensive line has been overhauled and features a rookie left tackle in Duane Brown, and Steve Slaton, our starting running back, is also a rookie. Mix in a revamped blocking scheme, and you can see where the team may be doing a little more thinking and a little less reacting during the course of the game.
With all that said, I have faith in Matt Schaub and the wide receiving corps. They have always shown the ability to move the chains, and I expect them to step up big this weekend.
Defensively, there are questions to be answered. Hines Ward took second year cornerback Fred Bennett to school, and our safeties looked out of position during Steelers' key plays. But then again, Mario Williams showed why he is quickly becoming the best defensive end in the game with his outstanding performance (six tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble). They should have an easier time than they had with the Steelers, so I expect the defense to rise to occasion.
The Texans will be fired up and looking to give their fans something to feel good about. They have all the motivation they need, but the question is, have they prepared well enough to take on a team as physical as the Titans? We'll find out on Sunday.
MCM- Matt Schaub was knocked out of both games against the Titans last season. Is the Texans offensive line going to be ready for the Titans pass rush this time?
BRB- The Texans gave the reigns of the offensive line to legendary line coach Alex Gibbs. The zone blocking system is simple, but the practice proved to be a little more difficult at Pittsburgh. The Steelers run an attacking 3-4 defense that is predicated on blitzing, so that had something to do with the lines poor performance. Couple that with the team falling behind so quickly, and it makes a little more sense as to why the team struggled to keep Schaub upright.
Last year the Texans gave up a franchise low 22 sacks with four coming at the hands of the Titans (two in each game). The line held up fairly well in those two games; however it's hard to defense a player like Albert Haynesworth whose intentions are to injure the opposition. You gotta admit, that helmet to helmet hit on Schaub was pretty cheap. Nevertheless, the Odom sack in the second game was monstrous - and clean. There's no doubt that our newly formed line is going to have their work cut out for them.
I don't expect to see Schaub on the ground any more than usual. If the game remains close, Schaub stays pretty clean.
MCM- Do you think the Texans are glad to see Kerry Collins at quarterback, or would they rather Vince Young back there?
BRB- It would have to be Vince.
When the game is close, Vince Young is at his most dangerous. He's always a threat to scramble and make a play with his legs. The problem with Vince is his inability to beat a team with his arm. I don't know if he doesn't do well reading defenses, but he's not going to pick a team a part from the pocket.
Interestingly, Kerry Collins seems to be the polar opposite. He's a veteran with limited mobility, but has enough experience playing quarterback to take what the defense gives him. He can still play pro quarterback in this league, and even if he isn't the same guy he was back when he was throwing for 250 yards a game, he can still make decent decisions in the pocket.
With the Titans' potent rushing attack, and his ability to be a "game manager", Collins seems to be the tougher matchup. Besides, beating the Vince Young led Titans would probably feel more satisfying.
MCM- This Texans defense has a couple of young studs on it in Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans Are they ready to take a step forward and become an elite NFL defense?
BRB- In short, no. Don't get me wrong - Mario and DeMeco have both proven themselves to be two of the league's best at their positions. Amobi Okoye is coming along, but he has a long way to go before he is held in that regard.
What's keeping this team from taking that next step from mediocre to good is the inability to pressure the quarterback. Outside of Mario Williams (12 sacks over his last eight games), the Texans haven't been able to produce a consistent pass rush. They desperately need to find a bookend to compliment Mario. If they do, I think you'll start to see this defense really take off.
The Texans made a last ditch effort to solve their pass rush problems when they brought in Rosevelt Colvin, but that train was derailed before it ever left the station. While I was a fan of the incentive laden contract, I went on record early and often criticizing the move to sign him in the first place. And sure enough, he ended up getting cut when the rosters were trimmed to 53.
The lack of a pass rush makes it hard on our secondary. They just don't have the skills to cover a talent group of receivers for very long, especially if the quarterback is being given seven seconds to find the open man. And with CB Dunta Robinson on the PUP list until the seventh week, the pressure falls on free agent acquisition Jacques Reeves and 2nd year man Fred Bennett to step up and keep the secondary from being the unit that sinks the season.
The Texans are just now starting to free themselves from the dead money deals left over from the Casserly era. My hope is that they are able to bring in a couple of impact players this offseason to mesh with this burgeoning defense.
MCM- Standard fifth question: What will the headline for this game be in Monday's Tennessean?
BRB- "Vince Young Leaves House without Cell Phone... Again!" Just kidding. The headline will read: "Titans fall to Tenacious Texans".
As always, go over to BRB and check out his 6 question VY bashing for me.