As most would have hoped and expected, the Texans were able to rebound from their week three loss to the Cowboys with a win in Oakland 31-24, but it wasn’t a cakewalk.
The game was in some ways, a summary of the current state of the Texans. The positive aspects of the 2010 season were apparent, along with the defensive issues that have already been evident (particularly last week).
The game broke out with a surprise Sunday when rising running back Arian Foster did not come out on the field. Coach Gary Kubiak admitted Monday that Foster had been disciplined/fined for missing a meeting and being late for another:
“I talked to him briefly on the plane, but he responded with his play,” Kubiak said. “He got his opportunity to go back out there and show his teammates that he can do his job and be accountable. He did that. It’s over; move on. He did his job.”
“Did his job,” seems a little modest, but that’s a coach’s reaction. Just one week after Jets receiver Braylon Edwards was held out of the first quarter against the Dolphins as punishment for a DWI, Foster was reprimanded in the same manner, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his stats.
Foster had 131 yards on the ground with a TD, and 56 in the air with a TD. Granted the Raiders run defense is the second worst in the league, but 131 yards on only 16 carries in three quarters is no joke. Foster is quickly leaving little doubt that he won’t be amongst the top five backs in the NFL at year’s end.
Three straight scores had the Texans up 31-14 early in the fourth quarter, and it looked as though the Raiders were all but done. However, the Texans team of years past that always managed to keep things exciting by leaving the door open reminded us they are still around. The Raiders squandered a chance to tie the game with Gradkowski throwing an interception on their final drive.
With four team sacks and three turnovers, the Texans defense had their most opportune game thus far. Still, turnovers have been one of the Raiders main issues for years now. The blatant problem that exists with the Texans D is that they are constantly giving up yards in huge chunks.
Credit must be given to a Raiders offense that looks much improved under QB Bruce Gradkowski, but that is no excuse for the Texans at this point. They are last in the league, allowing 337.8 passing YPG (over 30 more YPG than the second worst – Washington).
It has been ten years since a team that finished last in passing yards allowed made the playoffs (Denver Broncos, 2000).
Another concern is the health of Andre Johnson, who missed Sunday’s game and is day-to-day with a high-ankle sprain. Coach Kubiak undoubtedly made the right decision by holding him out. The Texans cannot afford to lose Johnson and proceeding with caution is the smartest choice. Kubiak said Johnson is feeling better, but don’t interpret that as a guarantee he will play this week.
WR Jacoby Jones, whose skills I have touted in past weeks, took a serious step back Sunday. With an opportunity to step up and pick up slack in place of Johnson, Jones dropped catches and looked poor on routes, finishing with 12 yards on one catch. Hopefully he can offset these inconsistencies, but a reported slight calf strain certainly cannot help.
Even with a more rounded offense that will keep them in games, the Texans will not be able to get over the hump if their defense does not drastically improve.
The return of OLB Brian Cushing (suspension) could provide the spark that the Texans’ defense needs. Cushing’s 86 tackles were second on the team last year (in only 13 games), and he is part of what gives this defense backbone. Hopefully Cushing’s presence will make for an immediate impact in week five against the Giants. The Texans could certainly use the spark.
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.