It certainly isn’t getting any easier for the Texans. After a 30-9 loss to the Ravens (a team they SHOULD have beaten), the Texans host the Seattle Seahawks Sunday. A team that has won 9 of their last 10 games dating back to last season.
There’s a reason the Texans are 2.5 point dogs at home. Here’s why:
The Legion Of Boom
I love trash talkers. And right now, cornerback Richard Sherman is the undisputed king of that realm. He backs his jawing up too, as part of the self proclaimed “Legion of Boom”. A good nickname for a secondary. An outstanding name for a renegade wrestling posse.
Sherman is a great lockdown corner. He’s tall (6’3), and one of the most physical corners in the NFL. His partner in crime, Brandon Browner, is practically a clone. Except taller (6’4). Their height and length make it tough for possession receivers to get the necessary separation. That’s bad news for the Texans, as Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins aren’t exactly the fleetest of foot.
Oh…I’m only halfway done with the secondary. Safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas complete the NFL’s best defensive backfield…a title that is not arguable. I’m far from a fan of Pete Carroll as a head coach, but he deserves all the credit in the world for putting this unit together (coaching secondaries has been his strength for ages). Thomas was a first round pick. The rest?
Kam Chancellor – Drafted in 5th round 2010
Richard Sherman – Drafted in 5th round 2011
Brandon Browner – Undrafted in 2005, played 4 seasons in CFL before signing with Seahawks
The Seahawks get so much bang for their buck, it’s miraculous. And we haven’t even gotten to the guy who’s made this franchise a Super Bowl contender.
You thought those defenders were good…
The depth on the Seahawks’ defensive line is beyond absurd. 8 players have played 45 + snaps in three games. That’s not including pass rushing specialist Chris Clemons, who played for the first time this season Sunday after tearing his ACL last season. Or Bruce Irvin, who was suspended the first 4 games of the league (they have so much depth, they moved him from the defensive line – where he had 8 sacks as a rookie – to strong side linebacker this offseason).
They have a solid 10 guys who can clog up the middle of the field. Here are the ones that Pro Football Focus gave positive ratings for
Michael Bennett – 9th among 4-3 DEs, 5.1
Red Bryant – 13th among 4-3 DEs, 3.8
Cliff Avril – 19th among 4-3 DEs, 1.8
O’Brien Schofield – 22nd among 4-3 DEs, 1.2
Brandon Mebane – 7th among all DTs, 6.8
Tony McDaniel – 32nd among all DTs, .9
Seattle isn’t as deep at linebacker as on the line or in the secondary. But they have playmakers there too, led by middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (12th among all MLB, 1.3 rating). Outside, strong side backer Malcolm Smith is the 2nd ranked 4-3 OLB (3.0, though in just 60 snaps). Their one weakness? K.J. Wright, who is the 31st 4-3 OLB out of 34 (-3.2 rating) against the run. If the Texans want to win this game, running right down Wright’s throat might be the key. See what I did there?
Imagine this guy…except he’s getting a fair chance in the NFL/is faster/better.
Russell Wilson is the complete package. Pocket presence. Speed. Arm strength. Accuracy. A guy who is always looking to make that throw downfield, and can buy the time to do so himself.
And then you remember that Russell Wilson was a third round pick last year. Also, Russell Wilson was a third round pick. Did you know Russell Wilson was a third round pick?
Let that sink in. Also, read this scouting report that explains his only weakness: height.
…In case you couldn’t tell, this is the part where you smash your face into the keyboard three times and cry.
Wilson doesn’t have the best receiving corps in the world, but his ability to extend plays elevates their game. In three games, Wilson has completed 13 passes of 20+ yards, most of which to receivers Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate (both 5’10) and Sidney Rice (6’4).
As far as I’m concerned, this is still the most amazing run I’ve ever seen.
Lynch is arguably the most physical running back in the league. But he isn’t a one-trick pony like Jerome Bettis was. Lynch has deceptive speed and shiftiness, and that combination makes him a top 5 back.
As good as Marshawn Lynch is, the Seahawks O-Line has been that bad. At least this season. It may be a result of their last two blowout wins (teams often load the box down big and to counter a clock-killing running attack), but the O Line has done a terrible job of paving Lynch the way:
RT Breno Giacomini (-2.6 in run block, 54 out of 72 tackles)
C Max Unger (-3.4 in run block, 31st out of 34 centers)
LG James Carpenter (-4.0 in run block, 60th out of 71 guards)
LT Paul McQuistan (-3.8 in run block, 65 out of 72 tackles – subbing for Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung who is on I.R.)
I doubt that will change Sunday, especially with the way the Texans handled the Ravens running attack last week.
It Could Be Tougher
The Seahawks have been on a roll for quite some time. But they aren’t at 100%:
– DE Bruce Irvin – Suspended, PED usage
– WR Percy Harvin – Reserve PUP List/Hip Surgery
– LT Russell Okung – IR (designated to return)/Torn Ligament Big Toe
– And RT Breno Giacomini (who isn’t very good) missed two practices this week
The Texans are in a similar situation with a lengthy list of players missing practice – most notably Andre Johnson and Duane Brown. That can’t be an excuse when Seattle has key players missing themselves.
Going into the season, I thought the Texans matched up pretty well with the Seahawks. Seattle loves to ground it out with Marshawn Lynch, something that isn’t easy against Houston’s front seven.
But Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays scares me – especially after Christian Freaking Ponder ran circles around the Texans D last season. The read option is even more terrifying – because the Texans haven’t seen it yet – and are preparing for it using T.J. Yates and Case Keenum at practice. That’s like practicing with a golf cart to get ready for a drag race.
As for the Texans offense? They can succeed if they run the ball…which they did very well before falling into a big hole against the Ravens. If they can’t…watch out. We all know that Schaub hates throwing into coverage, and I have a hard time seeing possession receivers like DeAndre Hopkins or a hobbled Andre Johnson getting separation from the likes of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. I have a feeling Matt will hold onto the ball and get sacked often behind an O-Line that has been shaky.
Press the panic button:
Seahawks win 16-7.
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