10 Thoughts: Texans vs. Ravens
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans lost their 3rd game of the year and 3rd in 4 games, to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 29-14. It was a tough game, but the Ravens out lasted the Texans and came up with the clutch plays when needed. The Texans need to lick their wounds and move on quickly because the Texans control their own destiny with the last 10 games of the season, because they are all winnable games.
Here are 10 thoughts from Sunday's loss.
1. Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed had a good showing against the Ravens, and put some hits on Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco. They were relentless to the quarterback and most importantly showed they can get into the backfield. The only real concern is that there was no other outside linebacker besides Reed and Barwin getting snaps, which was probably a big reason pressure stopped late in the game. It is good to see Barwin and Reed capable of doing things right off the edge.
2. When three important pieces are out for the Texans, Mario Williams, James Casey and Andre Johnson it is hard to compete with out all of your weapons. The Texans offense is stagnant without Johnson and Casey because they pull people out of the box and open room in the running game. It is apparent what those two mean to the offense, Matt Schaub and the passing game. The Texans offense is trying to compete without all of their weapons and it has slowed them the last two games.
3. I might be wrong but Arian Foster does not look healthy. He lacks the burst and one cut running style that he had last season, and he looked lethargic at times between the tackles. Ben Tate looked decisive when he hit the hole and looked better than Foster in the run game. Foster had 15 carries for 49 yards and Tate had 9 carries for 41 yards, and Tate averaged 4.6 yards to Foster's 3.3 yards a carry. To compound the problem Foster dropped 3 passes that were potential big gains. Foster said after the game, "I played terrible. It was obvious. That will never happen again. I didn't bring my A game." Let's hope he can get back on track, soon.
4. Tim Jamison showed up big today with two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Jamison is proving that the defensive ends in this 3-4 scheme can succeed and create a good pass rush. Also, Shaun Cody played another good game and when he went out late in the 4th quarter the Ravens capitalized and ran the ball up the middle when Earl Mitchell was in the game. On the last touchdown run by Ricky Williams, Mitchell was double teamed all the way to the endzone, Cody is an important piece in the Texans defense, especially against the run.
5. One of the big turning points of the game had to be in the 1st quarter when Antonio Smith picked up 2 personal foul penalties, after the Texans were putting up a GREAT goal line stand. The Ravens got extra snaps because of the penalties and scored on a Joe Flacco quarterback sneak. Smith needs to control his emotions and play football, because when you don't it comes back to haunt you.
6. The Texans secondary game up too many big plays to put the Ravens in scoring position. Kareem Jackson gave up a deep ball to Torrey Smith for 51 yards and Johnathan Joseph gave up a big one to Anquan Boldin for 56 yards, both resulted in field goals. I know they were only field goals, but the Texans let the Ravens out deep in their own territory. Field position played vital in this game, and allowing the Ravens to get into Texans territory with one play is not a winning formula.
7. Billy Cundiff, Ravens kicker, had 7 touchbacks on the day. That meant the Texans had to drive 80 yards against a tough Ravens defense. The Texans had the short field once and scored with a touchdown, but when they had to sustain a drive it was not a good outcome. The Texans worst enemies have been the opposing kickers the past two weeks, they just need to find a way to overcome these issues.
8. The lack of a running game is killing the Texans and putting the offense in bad spots during the game. Arian Foster and Ben Tate rushed for a combined 90 yards, but this rests on the offensive line. The whole offense looks out of sync and the once high-powered offense is making Matt Schaub and company look lost offensively. They played a great defense in Baltimore, but it would be good to see the Texans get back to their old way on offense. Expect the Texans to get back to their roots in the upcoming game against the Tennessee Titans.
9. The Texans were +2 in the turnover battle against the Ravens, but could not take advantage of the Ravens miscues. The Texans are creating opportunities, but so many things are not bouncing their way it seem like the Texans are snake bitten. If it is a missed facemask call on a fourth down run, a picked up flag, or a missed foot down on a crucial 4th down play. The Texans are playing against more than their opponent and I am not putting it all on the referees, but things are not coming easy for the Texans.
10. The Texans are 3-3 through their first 6 games of the season, which is a good spot for them. It was not an easy six game stretch, especially with the Steelers, Ravens and Saints in those first contests. It would be great to be 4-2, but we are not. The Texans are entering their most crucial part of their schedule and have 10 games to make it happen, and the Texans hold their own destiny. With games against the Titans (2), Jaguars (2), Colts, Browns, Panthers, Falcons, Bengals and Buccaneers, the Texans are in good shape to make their playoff run a reality.