[Editor’s Note: Rich Lord runs the sidelines for our broadcasts of Houston Texans games on Sports Radio 610. The first day after every Texans Game he’ll bring you his five biggest things he saw from the field. Catch Rich on the J&R Show from 2p-6p Monday – Friday on Sports Radio 610.]
1.) Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is in the biggest slump of his career. At the quarter-pole of the season, Schaub is on pace for career highs in interceptions (24) and sacks (44). He’s also on pace for a ridiculous 12 interceptions returned for touchdowns after throwing a pick-6 for the third straight game. He won’t be benched after this one but he is definitely heading in that direction.
2.) The Texans lack discipline, focus and game awareness. Last week they set a franchise record with 14 penalties resulting in 133 negative yards. They weren’t much better against Seattle. 6 yellow flags cost them 86 yards but it was a matter of quality (or lack thereof) versus quantity this time. On Seattle’s first play of the game, Jonathan Joseph committed pass interference, costing his team 33 yards on a drive that would result in a Seahawks’ field goal. Later, personal fouls for a head butt (Eddie Pleasant), horse collar tackle (Daryl Sharpton), and a body slam (Kareem Jackson) proved costly in the defeat.
3.) Houston’s offensive line is a big part of the problem. The run blocking has improved, but pass protection has not. When your quarterback can easily be mistaken for a statue DEPICTING a quarterback, you must protect. Schaub was knocked around like a pinball en route to a 5-sack afternoon that saw him get hit a total of 12 times. All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown has been sorely missed, second-year right tackle Derek Newton is a disaster and even Pro Bowl left guard Wade Smith has been struggling.
4.) Linebacker Brian Cushing is the best player on this team. The Texans are loaded with Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, including reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, but Cushing is the straw that stirs the drink. We learned last year how much he means to this team when his season ended in Week 5. We got a reminder Sunday when he left the game in the 3rd quarter with concussion symptoms and did not return. Immediately upon his departure, things got a lot easier for both runningback Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson. The middle of the field, in particular, suddenly parted like the Red Sea for Seattle ballcarriers.
5.) Losing the turnover battle is almost always a recipe for defeat. The biggest free agency signing in franchise history is so far a bust. For the 4th straight game, the Texans were on the wrong side of the giveaway/takeaway stat with 3 gives and 2 takes. For the season, they are now minus 4 in a category in which they excelled (+12) last season. Momentum-changing takeaways have got to be part of the mix and so far the Texans have just 1, Cushing’s pick-6 in San Diego. Ed Reed is one of the greatest ball hawks in league history but has so far shown no signs that he can still be that type of impact player. He’s got 5 tackles and 1 assist in 2 games.