Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At Indianapolis Colts
- QuarterbackThe Texans' season continues to spiral out of control and after they lost their 11th straight game to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14, head coach Gary Kubiak was fired. The final straw was Kubiak’s decision to return Matt Schaub to the lineup. Ownership wants Case Keenum to play quarterback the rest of the way. Keenum has shown some accuracy in his passing, but he can’t make key plays in the clutch.Something is wrong in Indianapolis. Even though the Colts are in first place and clinched the AFC South when the Tennessee Titans lost to Denver, the offense is not playing consistently and much of that may be due to the constraints that offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton have put on quarterback Andrew Luck. The quarterback has lacked the fluidity and ease he showed during his rookie year.
- OffenseThe Texans seem to be a much more talented team than their record indicates, but that’s cold comfort for the most disappointing team in the league. The Texans are depending on Ben Tate to give them a running game and he has 699 yards and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Wide receiver Andre Johnson is a big-play maker while tight end Garrett Graham has been productive with 49-545-5.The Colts’ running game was awful in the Week 14 loss to Cincinnati as Trent Richardson had 20 yards while Donald Brown had 11. Richardson has been a disaster since being traded from Cleveland, while Brown has played with effort. T.Y. Hilton has speed and can be explosive, but he lacks consistency. Tight end Coby Fleener has become one of Luck’s most dependable receivers.
- DefenseThe Texans have been an anomaly this season because their defense has a high statistical ranking, but they can’t seal the deal in close games. Defensive end J.J. Watt remains one of the best players in the league and he leads the team with 64 tackles and 9.5 sacks. Inside linebacker Daryl Sharpton has good range and he has 62 tackles.The Colts' defense struggled against the accurate passing of Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, and they gave up three TD passes as well as three more rushing TDs. The Colts play a fairly physical brand of defense, but they had far too many lapses against the Bengals. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman is one of the Colts’ hardest hitters, while Robert Mathis has 15.5 sacks and can dominate any game.
- Special TeamsThe Texans regularly play poorly on special teams and that area has been a problem for them again this season. While Keshawn Martin can be a dangerous return specialist, the Texans’ coverage teams are too soft. Placekicker Randy Bullock has made 22-of-31 FG attempts and is not dependable.The Colts have given up one punt return for a score this year, but they regularly do a fine job in covering kickoffs and punts. Adam Vinatieri has ice water in his veins and he is not going to get nervous when asked to make a game-winning kick. Pat McAfee is dependable and is a good directional punter.
It’s not just a cliché because most teams do get a lift when they bring in a new coach. However, Wade Phillips has a lot of work to do if he wants to turn around the Texans. It appears that Phillips’ team is just playing out the string. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor