After sailing through five games with a perfect record, the first setback for the Houston Texans came in stunning fashion.
The Green Bay Packers controlled every aspect of a 42-24 blowout win that exposed a bevy of problems Houston has to fix quickly before Sunday’s game against Baltimore, a team that has beaten the Texans three times in the past two seasons.
Coach Gary Kubiak said the Texans have to be better if they expect to beat the Ravens, who improved to 6-0 against Houston with a win in the second round of the playoffs last season.
“Some undisciplined things that we did, that’s our biggest concern today,” he said. “But I think across the board all three phases wasn’t good enough. Today we’ve got a lot of corrections to make and lots of soul searching to do, especially with this team we’ve got coming in here this week. It wasn’t one thing. It was a bunch of things.”
Though Kubiak has challenged every member of the team to improve this week, his biggest concerns are special teams, the running game and protecting quarterback Matt Schaub.
He’s been disappointed with the play of the special teams for a while and Sunday night’s performance was no different. The unit gave the Packers a first down twice because of penalties on fourth down plays, which both eventually led to touchdowns.
“We gave them two possessions with a couple of penalties, lack of discipline type penalties,” Kubiak said. “Something’s got to get better. If our football team is going to get better, (special teams are) going to have to get a (whole) a lot better.”
The Texans weren’t able to establish their running game on Sunday and Arian Foster and Ben Tate combined for just 76 yards on 20 carries. Kubiak acknowledged that those numbers were partly because Houston got down early and had to throw more, but didn’t want to use that as an excuse.
“The end result is we’re not running the ball very good at all,” he said. “It’s not going to change how we believe and what we think we have to do to win … we’ve just got to look really hard at it and hopefully change it this week.”
The Ravens are also 5-1, but their defense has struggled this season and is giving up more than 136 yards rushing a game. Things could be even more difficult for Baltimore this week with star linebacker Ray Lewis out for the season with an arm injury.
Kubiak’s other big concern on offense is the protection of Schaub. He had been sacked just three times through the first five games, but was taken down three times on Sunday night, and hurried and harassed many other times.
Kubiak wouldn’t blame any one person for the problems, but said everyone from the running backs to each lineman needs to protect better.
Houston’s first bad game of the season coincided with its first one without playmaking linebacker Brian Cushing, who was placed on injured reserve after tearing a knee ligament in last week’s 23-17 win over the New York Jets.
Kubiak didn’t want to undervalue the importance of Cushing, who had 114 tackles last season. But said he doesn’t believe his absence was the reason for his team’s poor performance Sunday.
“That was our first week out without him, and it wasn’t successful but it wasn’t not successful just because Cush wasn’t there,” Kubiak said. “We had problems in a lot of other areas so it goes back to what I talked about last week, us playing better as a team and we didn’t do that.”
Despite all the problems, Kubiak thinks his team has the right attitude and is confident that the Texans will bounce back on Sunday.
“It’s a humbling game,” he said. “You play a lot of football and you’re going to have some highs and lows. That’s the first big low of the year. We’ve got other challenges coming our way, so how we handle those type of things will have a lot to do with what we are when it’s all said and done. It’s a big disappointment, but we’ve got to move on.”
Also on Monday, the Texans announced that reserve defensive end Tim Jamison has a torn right Achilles and will miss the rest of the season. Right guard Antoine Caldwell, who sustained a concussion on Sunday night, is following the league’s protocol for concussion management and Kubiak isn’t sure how long he’ll be out.
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