The Rundown: Ravens Edition
Patrick D. Starr
A 30-9 loss is not what the Houston Texans ordered when they traveled to Baltimore to face the Ravens. If anything could go wrong, it did and the Texans took an unfortunate loss to an injury depleted Ravens team. The Texans had one of the worst quarters in recent memory and it proved to be too much to overcome. A special teams and defensive touchdown turned the tide for the Ravens and once again it turned into an upwards climb for the Texans.
- This game can be summed up in the 4th quarter when Head Coach Gary Kubiak called a time out on a 4th and 2 play and came up with a designed quick screen to Arian Foster that fell incomplete. Play calling that is always short of the first down marker is running its course and is only setting this team up for more failure down the road. It seems like the same issues keep arising and Kubiak has a heavy hand on what is happening on the field. If it is preparation, play calling or other factors not seen, there is going to have to be some change within the thinking of this team. The team is a direct reflection of the head coach and the conservative style to open the game offensively set the tone for the game. Even if Duane Brown is out of the game, it should not alter your confidence in your other players on the field.
If anything, Kubiak needs to find that streak that he had in San Diego to call that fake punt and push the ball down field on third downs. The talent is there to produce plays like this, it is now up to Kubiak to get up to speed with what his team is capable of doing.
- This was the most active Whitney Mercilus has been since suiting up for the Texans. He pushed the pocket, put some hits on Flacco and caused penalties on offensive tackles trying to block him. One thing that should not be overlooked is how well Mercilus is setting the edge in the run game and how he is using his long frame to get under offensive tackles and move them. He is slowly becoming what teams want in a 3-4 outside linebacker and he showed some of that against the Ravens.
- For the issues he had the previous two weeks, Randy Bullock was the only scoring option for the Texans. He hit field goals from 27, 29 and 47 yards and was perfect in that department. He also added a touchback on a kickoff, which he has been doing well this season.
- The defense was the lone unit that put together something worth being proud of on Sunday. They held the Ravens to 236 yards (161 passing/75 rushing) and still did not do enough to come away with a win. J.J. Watt dominated the line of scrimmage, was all over the field for the Texans' defense and registered another sack with 9 total tackles and 3 TFLs.
- Joe Mays made his presence felt and once again was a downhill player for the defense. He gave Vonta Leach all he wanted during the game and made some nice plays to cut down ball carriers. His sure tackling is a good thing to watch and he has been another reason why the Texans run defense has been getting better.
- Ryan Harris performed well for filling in for the injured Duane Brown. He gave up zero sacks and, for the most part, he kept rushers off of Schaub the entire day. It was a good sign for Harris who might be playing some more with Brown's status in doubt.
- Run Game Version of D.J. Swearinger is getting better week to week. His speed inside the box and next to Brian Cushing will only get better as the season goes on. He is a violent tackler and he showed that he can play on the line of scrimmage. He showed his speed when he tracked down a Ravens ball carrier from the backside of the formation. The young rookie safety is getting all he can handle during this early part of the season.
- Matt Schaub threw another infamous pick six interception, the second in as many games. It seems like his interceptions end up coming at the worst times, and Sunday's was no different. Only 194 yards through the air, Schaub was struggling to make good reads and throws against a Ravens defense that had the Texans' number the entire game. Play calling did not help Schaub's cause but the need for him to make a clutch play was non-existent, once again.
- Andre Johnson's shin injury did not help the cause either and put another wrench in the Texans' offensive plan. He is such an important piece of the offense and the team depends on him being on the field. His presence gives that comfort zone to Schaub so things only went downhill without him in the huddle.
- Wade Smith once again struggled in pass protection and gave up two more sacks on the day and looked over matched. Smith has been underachieving since week one of the season and things have not improved for the veteran up to this point. The Texans are really going to give some thought on how to fix this current issue because Smith's erratic play has not helped the offense one bit.
- The run game is nowhere to be found and this is after running it with some success early in the game. Arian Foster averaged 4.5 yards a carry while Ben Tate was at 4 yards a carry. The Texans have to find a way to run the ball consistently, and they have not shown this in the early part of the season. With two talented running backs like Foster and Tate, it should be easy but the up and down play of the entire offensive line is preventing this from happening.
- Fullback Greg Jones has been struggling to catch on to the offense and consistently provide that lead blocking ability. This is the second week in a row where he has been met in the hole by the opposing linebacker and he has not moved them out of the hole. It might be Jones still trying to learn the offense on the run and thinking too much, but he has been a slight disappointment to start the season.
- Johnathan Joseph did not help his cause with an unnecessary taunting penalty that kept a Ravens drive alive after they came up a yard short. Then he gave up a deep ball to Torrey Smith for 48 yards which set up another score for the Ravens. The Joseph that the Texans signed as a free agent in 2011 is no longer here and the speed is the first thing that has really left Joseph. He is going to have to change his game some to control faster wide receivers that can stretch the field. His struggles are real and finding a way to correct Joseph's coverage issues on the deep ball is necessary for this defense.
- The Texans tight ends, Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham, were taken away from Schaub in the passing game. Only 5 catches by Daniels that averaged 5.8 yards a catch proved to be another big piece taken out of the Texans offense. They could not get the two involved in the game plan, but credit is due to the Ravens' defense that prevented this from happening.
- The Pass Version of D.J. Swearinger is still a work in progress and he will have to get better in man to man coverage. He is taking bad angles and has covered two of the best to do it in the first three weeks of the season in Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark. Swearinger giving up a reception is reasonable, but missing tackles after the completion can lead to bad things. He has to become a better tackler in coverage and prevent the catch and runs that he has been giving up.
- Ravens only ran 6 plays in the 1st quarter and the Texans only came away with three points. The Texans were 7 of 7 in the red zone coming into this game and left the game 0 for 2 and no touchdowns on the day. This was a poor performance by the offense that has had little trouble moving the ball the previous two weeks.
- One thing is for sure, the Texans pass defense is not as bad as everyone thinks (161 yards passing) but they just give up big catches or a pass interference at the wrong time. Jackson didn't give up a big catch, just two crucial pass interference calls. Joseph gave up the deep ball to Smith and McCain gave up a critical 24 yard catch also to Smith on 3rd down to set up a touchdown run by Bernard Pierce. It is not the amount of yards, but how devastating the plays are during that certain time of the game.
- Offsides, taunting, an illegal formation, holding and pass interference were responsible for 14 penalties and 114 yards on the day for the Texans. The Texans have never drawn that many flags in recent memory and proved the Texans were not ready to play. Four of the penalties resulted in first downs for the Ravens.
- 3 for 12 on third down offensive efficiency. The Texans cannot keep drives alive if they cannot covert on 3rd downs.
2nd Quarter Meltdown Worth 17 Points for the Ravens
10:13, 3rd and 7, On Hou 31
A first down catch to Keshawn Martin for eight yards negated by a Derek Newton hold against Elvis Dumervil.
6:36, 3rd and 10, On Bal 50
Joe Flacco pulls J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed offsides with a hard count; next play on 3rd and 5 hits Brandon Stokley for a 9 yard gain to keep the drive alive.
5:18, 2nd and 10, On Hou 36
Kareem Jackson gets called for a pass interference call against Marlon Brown. Call could have gone either way, 21 yard penalty.
5:11, 1st and 10, On Hou 15
Brian Cushing is called for a phantom offsides penalty.
5:06, 1st and 5, On Hou 10
Danieal Manning drops a sure interception on a ball that hits him in the face mask. Would have ended the threat for the Ravens.
4:11, 1st and 10, On Hou 20
Andre Johnson is hurt when Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes knees Johnson in the shin on the tackle.
2:49, 1st and 10, On Hou 35
Matt Schaub throws an interception that Ravens linebacker Darryl Smith returns 37 yards for a touchdown.
1:55, 2nd and 7, On Hou 35
Wade Smith gives up a sack to Haloti Ngata. Schaub has zero time to complete his drop.
1:50, 4th and 18, On Hou 24
Tandon Doss returns a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.