March 22, 2018

The Rundown: Tale of Two Halves, Chargers Edition

The Houston Texans looked like the 2012 team in one half and turned into the 2013 version the last 30 minutes of the game. The little work for the starters during the preseason was evident when the game started but the Texans woke up in a big way for a big 31-28 comeback win.

Down by 21 points in the 3rd quarter, the Texans roared back to score 24 unanswered points for the biggest comeback win in franchise history.


The Rundown

– Coach Gary Kubiak proved that he has evolved as a coach and the fake punt conversion and 3rd down play calls made this evident. He finally coached to win and it was infectious to his team during the game. He played outside of the box and ended up giving the team the confidence they needed to finish the game off.

– The Texans’ coaching staff was outcoached in the first half and the players were not executing according to plan. The team said there were no adjustments made at half time, but it was more of the lack of production from the team on the field. It was a tale of two halves and it was a sinking feeling early in the game.  It looked like the same team but after being hit in the mouth by the Chargers early in the game, it took the Texans nearly 35 minutes to respond. They responded in a big way.

– The Texans defense gave up 263 yards for the game (1st half: 173, 2nd half: 90)

– Texans offensive targets: Andre Johnson (16), Arian Foster (8), Owen Daniels (7), DeAndre Hopkins (6), Garrett Graham (5), Ben Tate (2)

– The struggle still continued for Brice McCain in coverage and he gave up some key catches against the Chargers. He let Eddie Royal work him in the slot, which put him in chase mode the majority of the night. He gave up two touchdowns and was handed a gift on a key drop by Royal on a third down play. He will have to get better in the slot because teams will target him more and more as the season carries on. It looks like he doesn’t have the acceleration he once had prior to a foot injury that landed him on the injured reserve in 2012.

 Andre Johnson did what he was supposed to and he did it in a big way. He is still Matt Schaub’s favorite target and he came up big when it counted. His sheer size was too much for the Chargers’ cornerbacks and he had 16 targets on the night and finished with 12 receptions for 146 yards. As long as Johnson is on the team, Johnson will have the passing game ran through him.

– Duane Brown probably had his worst game in a long time for the Texans. His long time nemesis Dwight Freeney was all over Brown and working him with spin moves and bull rushes. Brown had no answer and was putting Schaub under some duress throughout the game. He tightened up late in the game but the early start for Brown would be something we would like not to see again anytime soon.

 Danieal Manning was better than expected. He played inside the box with some speed, made a nice coverage play down the field and finished a nice sack on Phillip Rivers. It was a down season for the veteran in 2012 but he started his 2013 campaign with a strong showing.

– The Texans’ kicking game has gotten much stronger this year. Randy Bullock hit a big time field goal from 41 yards out to win the game, and this was after zero time last season due to a groin injury. Bullock also had four touchbacks in five kickoffs, which helps a special teams unit that struggled in coverage. As for Shane Lechler, he averaged 45 yards a punt and all three of his punts were inside the 20 yard line. The three punts were downed at the 6, 8 and the 16 yard lines and created more field for the Chargers to drive. Field position is big and the two former Aggies look like they will be able to flip it when needed.

– It is early but Matt Schaub looked impressive versus the Chargers. Schaub was 34/45 for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns and one unfortunate interception. He stood tall in the pocket despite some issues with pass protection and he even side stepped the rush to make some plays outside of the pocket. He looked early and often to his two favorite receivers in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels. When he started looking DeAndre Hopkins’ way, things started to open up some more for the offense. He hit six different targets and used his tight ends inside the red zone for big plays.

– One issue for the Texans was the red zone issue last year, but against the Chargers they were 3 for 3. They scored touchdowns on all three trips to the red zone and no kicker was used. This is a good sign for an offense that struggled in the past with the red zone and, despite being early, it is a good sign.

– When the Texans defense was struggling, Brian Cushing made the play to crush the Chargers hope. The diving interception and return for a touchdown was a play that will go down in Texans folklore. With five total tackles, Cushing started slow, like the rest of the defense, but when it counted he made the play that the leader of the defense should make. Having Cushing back is good for the Texans’ mentality and it was evident what he means to the team after that play.

– Whitney Mercilus, despite having no preseason work, registered the first sack of the season for the Texans. He also held up well against the run and caused Phillip Rivers to get rid of the ball in a hurry on the Cushing interception. We had some doubts on what Mercilus would bring on his first game back but he did not disappoint in week one.

– The tight end combination of Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham combined for all three receiver touchdowns. Most impressive was the spry and elusive Daniels with the football. He made defenders miss in open field and even had a one handed catch across the middle that ended up as a 28 yard reception by the time it was done. The position group is a strength and it was used well against the Chargers.

– Ben Tate played like a new man and looked like his 2011 version. He ran the ball with power and moved piles when he hit the hole. He was the best running back option for the Texans on the evening and had 9 carries for 55 yards and looked in midseason form. The preseason helped Tate and using him early in the season to get Arian Foster in playing shape would be a good thing for the offense.

– Inside linebacker Joe Mays is going to be a nice piece next to Cushing in the middle. He was a strong tackler and showed why he is the “thumper” the Texans need for the defense. He was one of the few defensive players who had a solid first half of the game. 

– Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had 5 catches for 66 yards and made a big time catch on a broken play in a 3rd and 13 in the 3rd quarter for a 30 yard gain. That drive ended up with a touchdown which brought the Texans within seven. Hopkins made his five catches much more exciting and he has the ability to catch and run. He was even given a fade route but could not haul it in despite it hitting him in his right hand. The offense will bring him along slowly but he will help this offense in a big way.

– There was plenty of criticism headed the way of safety Shiloh Keo and he breathed some life into a Texans team that looked dead in the water. He had a big hit to break up a 3rd down play that would have been a first down and he had an eight yard carry on a fake punt. Keo did not hurt the Texans and he made some impact plays to make a difference in the game.

– Arian Foster’s average day was overshadowed by a late in the 4th quarter camera shot of him. Replaced by Tate, Kubiak wanted to stick with him late in the game. Foster was not very happy about the situation and reading his lips was evident of what he said. Dropped passes and not too impressive running, led to an unimpressive week one for Foster.

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

3 Responses to “The Rundown: Tale of Two Halves, Chargers Edition”
  1. Jeff_S says:

    I’m not going to bust Foster’s chops too much for that. If it becomes a habit it’ll be a different story. Those guys are unbelievably competitive and I think it was a heat of the moment thing. If after six games there’s still a 2 ypc difference between Tate and Foster, then we’ll have a different conversation. Right now I’m going to chalk it up to speed-of-the-game adjustment issues since Foster had no carries in the preseason.

    • PDS says:

      More I think about, we should want a mad Foster. He wanted to be in the game. Just want to see how this plays out in the coming weeks.

  2. Juan Grande says:

    Nice analysis on your first point. I think this was the primary reason we won this game, out of many things to point at.

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