Texans Look to Get Back on Track vs. Ravens
Consistency remains a key
By Barrett Walton, 2:12PM, Sat. Oct. 20, 2012
“Consistency will define the Houston Texans in 2012," some writer for The Austin Chronicle keeps preaching. So what was that abomination that we witnessed Sunday night versus the “down and out” Green Bay Packers? What happened to the “dominant” Houston Texans, the “best team in the NFL” Texans?
The NFLʼs 2011 MVP happened. Aaron Rodgers played an incredible game. The Packers are a better team than their record suggests and the Texans didnʼt play their brand of football. They made too many mistakes and didnʼt make enough plays to get back into the game.
Rodgers looked as good as heʼs looked all year. Two of his six touchdowns came on incredibly tight coverage. James Jones made possibly the catch of the year in the endzone. Rogers threw a team record six touchdowns. While the Texans made plenty of mistakes, I donʼt think that they played as poorly as the final score suggests. Take a look at each of Rogersʼ six touchdowns:
TD No. 1: Jonathan Joseph struggled for the second straight week with a sore groin that clearly limited his ability to provide effective coverage on the stop-and-go route to Jordy Nelson.
TDNo. 2: James Jones makes his first of two spectacular touchdown catches in the game against good coverage.
TD No. 3: A perfect pass from Rodgers to Nelson in the endzone.
TD No. 4: Same two guys, great coverage by Glover Quin, perfect pass, great catch, touchdown Green Bay.
TD No. 5: Blown coverage. This one is actually on the Texans defense. Rodgers hits Crabtree who is running free in the flat for a 48-yard score.
TD No. 6: James Jones is blanketed by Kareem Jackson but Rodgers throws yet another perfect pass and Jones makes a remarkable one-handed grab for the final of six touchdowns for Rodgers on the night.
These arenʼt excuses. The Texans didnʼt play well across the board. They got beat. They didnʼt play well in any aspect of the game. But they got beat by a team that hasnʼt played up to its potential until last Sunday night.
I told you last week that the team that pressured the quarterback well would win the game and that was the case. The Texans pass rush was ineffective, especially on the outside where Conner Barwin and Brooks Reed failed to register enough pressure to make Rodgers uncomfortable.
￼￼￼￼￼￼ ￼Schaub was sacked only three times through the first five games and had only committed two interceptions. On Sunday night, he doubled both of those numbers. Schaub was protected fairly well, but the sacks all came on breakdowns or missed assingments by the offensive line. The turnovers were a product of being behind in the game and forcing throws to try and catch up.
I donʼt fault Schaub for his performance on Sunday. I believe that the offense failed to effectively run the ball due to the lineʼs performance as well as the game plan of the Packerʼs defensive coordinator, Dom Capers. No Time To Dwell
Itʼs easy to say that Houston isnʼt ready for prime time. They didnʼt rise to the occasion on Sunday night and this Sunday they will be playing for the potential tiebreaker against the Baltimore Ravens. The Texans won't be going undefeated, but a bigger question will be are they able to put that game behind them and move on?
This game on Sunday will be more about January than it is about mid-October. Are the Texans going to rise to the occasion and re-stake their claim as the best team in the AFC? Or will they crumble under the pressure?
To be perfectly honest, I donʼt know. They should rise to the occasion. They handled adversity with great success a season ago and the loss to the Packers dropped them from 5-0 to an AFC best 5-1, hardly a crushing defeat. Mentally the Texans need to show that consistency that will end up being the defining factor in their success, or failure.
Good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The Ravens are banged-up on defense. Last week they lost Ray Lewis, their emotional leader and LaDarius Webb, their best corner, to season ending injuries.
It came out this week that future hall of fame safety Ed Reed has an injured shoulder and Baltimore is still without Terrell Suggs, their best linebacker, who is recovering from an Achille's injury suffered in the offseason.
The Texans should win this game on talent alone. If they donʼt, then it is safe to say that they are not the dominant team that we saw in the first five weeks. However, if the Texans donʼt win this game, it doesnʼt mean the sky is falling. It means the jury is still out on just how successful they are capable of being. The Texans offensive line has got to establish themselves as the best unit on the field on Sunday.
If the Texans can run the ball to the tune of 150 yards and if the front seven can pressure Joe Flacco in the way that they failed to pressure Rodgers, then Houston wins this game and order is restored in the land of the Bulls on Parade. If not, their next test of actual consequence wonʼt come until the playoffs.
Texans 27 - Ravens 13