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Overcoming adversity – First off, this was a win the Texans absolutely needed to get. With the upcoming schedule (@Saints, Steelers) getting much tougher, a 2-0 start was crucial for this football team.
Up 16-13 early in the 4th quarter, Houston put together a 5 play, 63 yard drive that gave the team a commanding 23-13 lead. It was capped off by a Matt Schaub TD strike to Andre Johnson, who destroyed Nolan Carroll to the end zone. Without Arian Foster, with Johnathan Joseph coming in an out of the game, that was a huge drive on the road.
Ben Tate – Another week of Tate stepping in capably for the banged up Foster. He carried the ball 23 times for 103 yards, wearing down the Miami defense in the 4th quarter. It seems the Texans are going to have to play for a little while with Foster, who says that he took himself out of the game after he felt his hamstring tighten up.
I’m not sure if Tate is quite as explosive, but he’s a tough runner who goes north-south and has the ability to break tackles. He’s also shown to be a capable pass receiver out of the backfield.
Run defense – This is an area of concern right now for DC Wade Phillips. Miami’s offensive had 153 yards on the ground at 5.5 yards a pop, which is way too many. Rookie Daniel Thomas torched the D for 107 yards in his first game.
The way the D is set up, I expect the run D to be a sore spot all season. The front 7 is built to be more aggressive, which leaves them susceptible to draws and screens (I think the Dolphins just gained 10 more yards on a shotgun draw…). DeMeco Ryans had 1 tackle on the day; that’s a huge problem for the defense.
Mario Williams – I don’t think Mario played a great game, because he was basically invisible for the last three quarters. However, his tipped pass off Chad Henne in the first half led directly to a Joseph INT, and the Texans cashed in a touchdown two plays later. That play was basically worth 7 points, so we have to give Mario a lot of credit on that.
Pass defense – Aside from Joseph, there are holes in the secondary. Jason Allen was consistently lost defending Brandon Marshall, playing way off the ball and allowing an embarrassing TD where he was just muscled into the end zone. I think Kareem Jackson played okay overall, but he gave up a lot of yardage with a pass interference, and was targeted on a couple of successful first down plays.
Against the Saints next week, expect Drew Brees to test this defense all over the field. They need Joseph healthy, and Jackson/Allen need to be on point.
Overall, I’m happy to see that the Texans could respond when they were punched in the mouth a bit in the 3rd quarter. However, we’re a long way from making reservations for a parade down Richmond Avenue. Arian Foster’s injury saga continues, the run defense is struggling, and the offense’s execution in the red zone hasn’t been great. The next two weeks will teach us a lot about this team.