The Houston Texans have managed to blow some games in recent years, but after a 17-point come from behind win on Sunday they find themselves alone atop the AFC South. Although it is early in the season, it seems the Texans are beginning to turn the corner as an elite NFL team. There are certainly telling reasons for this.
Running Game to Open up the Passing Game
Arian Foster followed up his standout week one performance with 69 yards both on the ground and in the air, respectively. He did not manufacture a TD, but his presence enforces an awareness on the defense that prevents them from leaning pass.
The Texans exploited the Colts’ shambled run D with ease in week one, but it was the ‘Skins secondary that they picked on in week two. QB Matt Schaub posted a career-high 497 yards with three TD’s. Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter both caught over 10 passes and both had over 140 yards(158 and 144). Moreover, eight Texans had a catch or more.
The accelerating talent of Jacoby Jones has added depth to the receiving core. With six catches for 53 yards and a TD in week two his stock is only apt to rise. His quickness and athletic ability is forcing defenses to spread out and disables them from putting maximum focus on Johnson and Walter. Jones’ impressive surge may also have Walter playing at a higher, more competitive level.
Johnson’s capabilities go without saying, he is arguably the best receiver in the game today.
Increasingly Dangerous and Youthful Defense
The youth of the D is something that has plagued Houston in the past, but it now may be their biggest asset.
The oldest player on the first team of the depth chart is Eugene Wilson at age 30. The rest includes seven players 25 and under averaging around 3.3 years of NFL experience. This youth is a distinct factor in the quickness they exhibit. SS Bernard Pollard is assisting with the inexperience as a leader and certainly has the make of a Pro Bowler this year.
At only 25, Mario Williams is making a case for the league’s top defensive end. I discussed the likelihood of Williams logging over 10 sacks this year, and after three sacks against Washington he is now on pace for 32. Williams probably won’t even approach Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5, but as his career progresses it seems more and more apparent that he has the skills to accomplish such a feat.
The Winner’s Intangibility
I must once again assert the fact that we are only an eighth of the way through the season. It is easy to get caught up in a couple games or even just one(Jets after week one). However, I still cannot help but notice a different aura surrounding the Texans this year.
The Texans’ comeback against Washington featured some inconsistent defense, but down the stretch the entire team did their part to overcome the deficit.
After Andre Johnson elevated for an impressive game-tying TD that pushed the game to overtime and the Texans won the toss, I was certain they were about to put the ‘Skins away. That is, until Coach Gary Kubiak decided to punt rather than send out Neil Rackers to attempt a 52-yard field goal to win on a fourth and four on the Redskins 34 OR go for it on fourth down(prompting thoughts of throwing my remote through the T.V.).
Kubiak redeemed himself slightly by calling a timeout on the Redskins following field goal attempt, a would be make turned miss on ‘Skins kicker Graham Gano’s second try, eventually culminating with Rackers’ winning field goal on the next possession.
Regardless, the Texans found a way to win. This sometimes seemingly magical/intangible component seems to finally exist in Houston, and it is one of many pieces that should have Texan fans dreaming of the playoffs and beyond.
About the Author
Written by Zachary Stanley
By the end of the fall I will have obtained a Bachelor's degree from Ithaca College. I have been blogging for quite some time and am greatly enjoying my various responsibilities in this field. I am currently a Feature Celtics Columnist and a Featured Sports Contributor for two different sites. I am also a couple weeks from opening up my new blog site, CelticsNotes.com.