Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At Tennessee Titans
- QuarterbackAnd so it ends for the Texans. A season that began with Super Bowl aspirations ends with the Texans having the worst record in the league. They are merely playing out the string and waiting for management to find a new coach – perhaps Lovie Smith? – who can turn things around next year. In any event, it appears to be Matt Schaub’s star and it could be his last in a Houston uniform.The Titans have had more downs than ups this season, but they have been more competitive than the Texans. The Titans are undecided about what they will do at the quarterback position next year, but Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the call again in the season finale. While Fitzpatrick has decent arm strength, accuracy, intelligence and athletic ability, he simply makes too many mistakes.
- OffenseThe Texans don’t have a lot to feel good about this season, but don’t overlook the way Ben Tate has prepared and played this season. Tate has had to endure painful broken ribs since midseason and he has continued to gut it out. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is still one of the most reliable pass catchers in the league. DeAndre Hopkins is a viable complementary receiver.The Titans are going to have to make some tough choices about their running game in the offseason. Despite his gamebreaking speed, Chris Johnson is much too inconsistent. The Titans have a fine receiving crew and this unit should get better. Kendall Wright runs sharp patterns and has reliable hands. Nate Washington can stretch the field, while tight end Delanie Walker is a fine red-zone target.
- DefenseThe Texans have had one of the stronger defenses in the NFL, at least according to the statistical rankings. While they have been a top-five defense this year, they give up too many big plays. Defensive end J.J. Watt remains the cornerstone as he can rush the passer and bat down passes. Inside linebacker Daryl Sharpton is one of the team’s most reliable tacklers.The Titans are a middle-of-the-pack defensive team and they have some shortcomings against the run, but they tend to be a very hard-hitting group. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is smart and tough, and that’s a great combination for head coach Mike Munchak. Pollard is an excellent tackler and solid in pass defense. Cornerback Alterraun Verner is one of the game’s most unsung players.
- Special TeamsThe Titans might have been able to win a few more games if they had gotten decent play from their special teams, but that area has let the team down once again. Punter Shane Lechler has a strong leg but the punt coverage team is below average and placekicker Randy Bullock is ordinary.The Titans have not gotten the kind of production from their special teams that they expected at the start of the season and their punt and kickoff coverage has been ordinary. Placekicker Rob Bironas has had a solid year, but he may no longer be viable on longer FG attempts.
The Titans have played with a much more consistent effort this season than the Texans, and it’s difficult to see Houston challenging Tennessee in this game. The key for Houston is avoiding injuries, and not coming through with a winning effort. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor