Life Without Andre
Patrick D. Starr
Even though there is no definite time-table on Andre Johnson's return, the Houston Texans will be faced with a few games without Johnson. As we all know Johnson makes the Texans a better offense and team with him on the field, and after his scary injury on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers all should be elated the injury wasn't a season finisher.
The Texans are going to have to earn their respect without Johnson in their upcoming game with the Oakland Raiders, but with Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, Bryant Johnson and David Anderson lining up at wide receiver. There is no true number one receiver on the roster besides Johnson, and no big play ability that can produce like Johnson can do. As of now the four (Walter, Jones, B.Johnson, Anderson) have 12 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown, the touchdown was a miracle in its self. Andre has 25 catches for 352 yards and two touchdowns which is easily more production than the "other" four receivers.
It looks like the primary target for Matt Schaub will be tight end Owen Daniels who has come to life the past two weeks, on the season Daniels has 14 catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Daniels proves he is a viable option in the passing game, but he has little speed to threaten the secondary vertically. With Arian Foster coming back also, his pass catching ability out of the backfield can be an added weapon to the passing attack, but once again he poses no threat to opposing secondaries out of the backfield.
Johnson can catch the ball like no other and is in constant discussion of being the league's best receiver, but his true value is the fact he can pull safeties out of the box with his presence lined up on the outside and open lanes in the running game. Johnson is hardly covered one on one and is usually spied by a safety helping a cornerback from him going deep. Without Johnson, teams will be able to single the Texans' receivers and leave safeties in the box to help with stopping the run. There is going to be a necessity for the Texans to establish the pass to the wide receivers, to make Oakland hesitant of putting safeties in the box.
Johnson is more important to the Texans than people realize, especially when it comes to the running game. I don't doubt Head Coach Gary Kubiak has something up his sleeve for the Raiders, but it will be another tough game for the Texans. Especially without their top playmaker on the field, let's hope that the quartet of wide receivers that will be active will decide to step it up and help the Texans with another win.