March 17, 2018

3 Questions About the Texans

It is hard to imagine from a casual look that anything could be an issue with the Houston Texans, who are sitting at 6-1 and atop the AFC Conference and the AFC South. Watching the Texans, it is easy to see the team is still searching for that perfect game where they can be left satisfied.  Despite 6 wins, there is room for improvement.

Like all NFL teams, the Texans have some issues that need to be corrected to calm some wondering minds. With a few injuries and issues on the team, we look at three questions that have come to the forefront in our minds.




 3 Questions About the Texans


Can the Texans be the defense they need to be with Tim Dobbins and Bradie James?

The trial period without Brian Cushing happened against the Green Bay Packers and the Texans’ defense had a wake up call in the form of Aaron Rodgers. Now that the initial shock period without their defensive leader has passed, the weight falls upon the inside of the defense, Bradie James and Tim Dobbins. To start, both are smart players but in the NFL playing fast on the field is what matters and with 17 years of NFL experience between the two there is some wear and tear on them. James has been average at best this season and has improved since week one, but this is probably as good as James will be for the defense. Dobbins, on the other hand, is the “key” for the defense and he showed what he could do against the Baltimore Ravens.  He attacked on run plays, covered well in space and looked like what the defense needs in the middle. Throw in Brooks Reed helping on the inside in nickel packages, the three have the task of replacing what Cushing did for this defense.

James and Dobbins are good when they are in their base 3-4 defense and the offense wants to keep it in between the tackles. When the opponent wants to take to the air is when issues start to happen for the defense, and Wade Phillips learned from the Packers’ game he is going to have to get creative with coverage and personnel.

With two games without Cushing, the verdict is still out on how the Texans will look but getting Dobbins more involved is the best option the Texans have. Dobbins should get more defensive snaps as the season continues, and with James and Reed helping in spots the defense might be able to manage for the remainder of the season.


Bryan Braman #50, Pregame vs. the Baltimore Ravens

Will anyone besides Bryan Braman or Alan Ball step up and correct the special teams issue?

Key stat: NFL Rank in Kick returns (31st), NFL Rank in Punt returns (14th)

Check where the Texans special teams rank on the Football Outsiders

There are serious issues within the special teams units. If it is not sub par coverage, it is a penalty, and they are having real issues making any type of impact. Bryan Braman has been a special teams animal since coming back from his early hamstring injury with great coverage and a blocked punt this season. As for Alan Ball, he has been pretty good on punt coverage causing fumbles and being a sure tackler.  Trindon Holliday was the early scapegoat of the season for his poor returns and decisions but now two weeks later not much has changed in the return game with Keshawn Martin. Throw in a “decent” kicking game when it comes to field goals and punting, but Shayne Graham has struggled getting the ball to the end zone on kickoffs and has only forced 11 touch backs (44 kickoffs). Less touch backs means more returns and the personnel on coverage is a concern, DeVier Posey, Justin Forsett and Lestar Jean all have been on kickoff coverage at one point this season. Those three don’t look like real tacklers in the coverage game, and it will be up to special teams coach Joe Marciano to do some serious work during the bye week to get it straight.


Can the Texans stay the course to the playoffs?

I really hate talking about anything but regular season, but after the Ravens win things are falling into place for the Texans. The Texans have gotten through their toughest three game stretch of the season in the Jets, Packers and Ravens and came out with two wins. Now they are going to enter the second half of their schedule with teams that are still struggling to find an identity for the 2012 season, and it is all there for the taking. With veteran leadership, the Texans looked back on track and more focused than ever and with the bye week happening at a good time to freshen up the team.

It is hard to believe that if the Texans can hold up their end for the remainder of the regular season, they WILL have a first round bye and home field advantage in the playoffs. Most importantly, the road for the AFC’s route to the Super Bowl WILL be going through Reliant Stadium. It is all there and this should be in the back of the minds of the coaches as they take this one game at a time and push towards week 17.

The first seven weeks have been exciting, but it is going to get even more interesting when the team starts the next part of their schedule when they host the Buffalo Bills in two weeks.


You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.




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