This might cap off one of the most surprising turnarounds in the NFL this season, especially after things were looking bleak after a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens in week 6. The Houston Texans have rattled off 4 straight wins and taken control of their season with a 7-3 record. The Texans control their own future and things could not be looking any better for the city of Houston regarding this "new look" football team.
Once again the Texans dominated their opponent and made the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quit, that is what we saw, and take a embarrassing loss at home. The Texans defense and offense played like a team on a mission and go into their much-needed bye week with a good taste in their mouth.
Here are 10 thoughts about Sunday's lop sided victory.
1. Jesse Nading who has been bounced around the Texans active and practice roster showed his importance develpoing a complete roster in the NFL. On special teams he has 3 tackles and recovered a key onside kick after a Buccaneers touchdown. It takes every player on the roster to make NFL teams good and Nading is one example.
2. How good is the Texans defense, good enough to hold the Buccaneers to 1 TOTAL YARD of offense in the 3rd quarter. The Texans defense also had 4 sacks on the day (Connor Barwin 1.5, Brooks Reed 1, Brian Cushing 1 and J.J. Watt .5) and the Buccaneers had only allowed 11 sacks on the season coming into this game. The defense also got a gift when Bryan Braman jumped on a loose ball late in the game. Also, the Texans picked of 3 passes with Brice McCain, Quintin Demps and Brian Cushing being the beneficiaries.
The best thing about this is all the different players contributing to what the Texans are doing defensively. This is collection of players who look like they are on the same page and look like they are getting better each week.
3. It is easy to see Neil Rackers has been struggling to put away some easy kicks. I know he has only missed three kicks this season, but for a veteran kicker who will be leaned on heavily in tight games, it would be good to see him fix his issues. It is not that big of an issue with all of the scoring happening, but the missed kick and a blocked extra point, that he lost his footing, can lead to disaster when it truly counts.
4. Matt Schaub was the definition of efficient on Sunday, he was 11-15 for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns. Being an NFL quarterback comes with some added pressure, but the way the Texans are running the ball, Schaub is benefitting and being able to sit back and make passes to wide open receivers. He had two passes that went for 80 and 78, but that's how it goes. His strike to Jacoby Jones to open the game, the Texans could not have asked a better start to a game on the road. Schaub has been solid this season with 15 TDs and only 6 interceptions.
5. Johnathan Joseph has to be one of the best defensive backs in the league and has come to Houston with a chip on his shoulder. Considered the second best free agent on the market, he is turning into the best off season signing in 2011. Joseph has made the defense and most importantly the secondary a top unit in the NFL. His ability to cover and lay the big hit is what makes him special, and his attitude has been contagious on the defensive side of the ball. He may give up some completions, but he has backed down from nobody and found himself a home in Houston. His stat sheet might not be filled, but his presence on the field proves he is the most important piece in the Texans defensive scheme in 2011.
6. We have touched on this before, but enough can not be said about the growth of Jacoby Jones since his bad game against the Oakland Raiders. Jones only had 2 catches against the Buccaneers, but had 87 yards and a 80 yard touchdown reception to open the game. We have been hard on Jones and we even asked when he was going to step up. He is not making many catches during the game, but the impact of his catches has been huge. His emergence could prove big down the stretch and especially when Andre Johnson returns to the lineup.
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7. It will be up for debate but the Texans might have the best defensive rookie combination from the 2011 draft with J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed. Watt and Reed have been just as important to the defense's success in their rookie season. The two rookies have combined for 62 total tackles, 8 sacks, 2 Fumble Recoveries and 2 pass deflections. Watt started the season off great and hit the apparent rookie wall, but he has turned it up these recent weeks. Reed is filling in for the injured Mario Williams, but if Williams was not lost for the season there would be no sight of Reed. The impact they have brought for being rookies can't be overlooked and it looks like they are just getting started
8. 1st half dominance The Houston Texans as a "team" have done their part to put their opponents out of their comfort zone. Look at their dominance in the first half of the football game in point differential.
1st quarter +64 points
2nd quarter +52 points
1st half + 116 points
Net Points for the season: +107 (currently first, Packers still play on Monday, should fall to second)
There is a reason for the Texans success in the first 10 weeks, and they have started fast during games. This is a reason for excitement for Texans fans and have the team on the verge of its first post season appearance.
9. The thought of having Ben Tate as the backup is a great luxury, but Arian Foster is the cream of the crop. He has made the game look easy and accounted for 186 total yards and two touchdowns offensively on Sunday. Don't fool yourself and say that Tate can be the man, he could but what Foster brings to the offense it unmatched by any running back in Texans history to put on a uniform. His ability to run and catch added to his deceiving speed and vision make Foster a top running back in this league. Even with missing 2 games Foster has 740 yards rushing and 445 receiving with 8 total touchdowns. It will be close but he could be closing in on the 1,000 yard mark and a contract extension to go along with it.
10. The injury to Owen Daniels was called a left knee hyper extension and Lawrence Vickers (hamstring) and Mister Alexander (shoulder) also were added to the injury list. Daniels came back in the game after his injury, but this is still something to watch. Vickers looks a little more serious which came close to the end of the game, and it's a shame because he has been playing some great football of late. Thank goodness for the bye week because the Texans are at a good point of the season to heal and get ready for the home stretch to try to close out the AFC South and put some key pieces back into the Texans gameplan.
*Bonus*Brian Cushing's stat line, 8 tackles, 1 interception and 1 sack. Plus his sack dance, the "USC Trojan", Enough said.