While warning fans to beware last week, I still failed to hide the supreme confidence I had in the Texans. I couldn’t. They just looked too good in the first two weeks of the season, too rounded, too ready for the next level.
As I watched some analysts predict a Dallas victory, I snickered. There was no way a team that in the first two weeks looked offensively dumbfounded could keep up with the high-powered Texan offense. But there was something specifically different about the Cowboys that I did not think their coaching staff was truly capable of.
Is it really possible that Wade Phillips, an overgrown marshmallow that looks like a befuddled little kid when losing and jubilant school boy during victories, engineered a perfect game plan against the Texans? I remain skeptical and unwilling to accept that Phillips’ suddenly manufactured such a thing, but I cannot deny what I saw.
The Cowboys diagnosed some pointed problems that the Texans will need to fix.
For the first time in his tenure with the Cowboys, Roy Williams was properly utilized. Williams’ inability to play like the gritty wide-out we once saw in Detroit has led to much criticism and speculation that his career might be over, but Sunday he showed signs of that player, leaving hope for the future.
Williams used his size and strength to gain huge yards and take advantage of a weak secondary. He finished with five catches for 117 yards. He victimized inexperienced rookie Kareem Jackson early in the 4th quarter for a 63-yard TD(one of his two). Cowboys QB Tony Romo made a veteran adjustment on the play instead of running the ball, exposing the weakness on the right side.
The Cowboys running attack balanced out for the first time in quite awhile, serving as a reliable mix with the pass against a Texans secondary that simply could not get many stops. The Texans were unable to log a sack or create a turnover, unlike the Cowboys defense.
Matt Schaub threw two interceptions(one with the game out of reach), and Arian Foster had a lost fumble. More importantly, the Cowboys had four sacks, three of which belonged to DeMarcus Ware. The Texans struggles to protect Schaub are a weakness that must be addresses. Head Coach Gary Kubiak made it his a point of emphasis on Monday:
“We’ve got 11 sacks,” he said. “That’s way too damned many. And I don’t care whose fault it is – mine, Matt’s, the O-line’s – we’ve got to fix it. OK? So we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got way too many.”
Matt Schaub has been know to hold the ball too long which has even helped contribute to some injuries, but he is still lacking adequate time to throw the ball. Not allowing Schaub this time disables the Texans talented group of receivers from gaining separation on the opposition(which they couldn’t do anyways).
Time will tell if the Cowboys have been reignited with their menacing defense against Houston being a spark for success, or whether the Texans are not as good as some might have thought. I am vehemently leaning towards the former.
There are issues that need to be addressed here and the Texans are now tied atop the division again with Indianapolis, just two weeks after they dominated Indy in week one. Still, Texans fans should not fret.
Even with a young line and a young defense, the learning curve of the inexperienced players has been impressive thus far but the secondary is truly struggling. Their problems are fixable(hopefully) and they still have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. That is not likely to change any time soon.
Note: According to HoustonTexans.com, Andre Johnson may be given the week off in week four to rest his ankle. Houston should still be able to get it done without him against Oakland. Regardless, it is better to be safe than sorry. Risking the loss of Johnson is not an option.
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.