The Texans’ defense did the job today, pummeling poor, hopeless Blaine “I wish I had half the poise that TJ Yates has in the pocket” Gabbert for seven sacks. Connor Barwin continued his breakout season, notching four of those sacks.
Of course, the big news of the day is that Matt Leinart may be out for the season. Right now, the Texans are playing the “we aren’t sure yet” game, just as they did with Matt Schaub. Multiple reports suggest Leinart suffered a broken collarbone. TJ Yates relieved Leinart, and led the Texans down the field for a field goal late in the first half – after that, it’s as you’d expect… multiple three-and-outs.
The Texans were still going to make the playoffs with Leinart, but in my opinion – they had very little chance to actually advance in the playoffs. So really, nothing has changed. The division is terrible, and though the Titans are “hanging around,” there’s no way they can win enough games to get the AFC South title – unless the Texans just completely collapse now.
I didn’t think an 8-3 record, a five-game winning streak, and a big division lead could feel this awful, but it does. Sure, I’m all in with whoever is the QB for the Houston Texans – I’m a fan, that’s what I do… but I also have these things called “thoughts.”
The Texans running game is great, yes. At times it has been dominant – but without the threat of some kind of passing attack, teams will load up on the run and force TJ Yates, Kellen Clemens, Sage Rosenfels, Bradlee Van Pelt, Alex Brink, Tony Banks, Brett Favre, Jeff Garcia, or Brodie Croyle to beat them.
If the Texans didn’t have an incredible defense, I’d just go ahead and proclaim them completely and utterly screwed… and truthfully – as far as advancing deep into playoffs, they already were before Leinart went down – but maaaan, that defense.
The Titans aren’t going to go on a huge winning streak, but how many games can TJ Yates (or whoever) win in the next five weeks? As long as he doesn’t lose four or five of them, the Texans will win the division barring some totally unexpected craziness… but then what?
In fairness, Yates obviously has not gotten any snaps with the first team. The team was crash-coursing with Leinart, and Yates has not had a chance to prepare himself as a starting QB. He’ll get that chance now (presumably), and his first test as a starter will be against a hot Atlanta team who desperately needs to keep pace with New Orleans in the NFC South. Atlanta is currently a top-10 NFL defense, but getting tons of pressure on the QB isn’t one of their strengths.
It’s going to be a long week. There’s going to be a lot of Brett Favre talk, and I even expect to hear Sage Rosenfels’ name a few times. But I suspect that the man who will start the rest of the year (if Leinart is in fact out) is TJ Yates. Perhaps Kellen Clemens will work his way into the starting lineup if things don’t go well, but either way – this season will only go as far as Wade Phillips’ defense will carry it.
Finally we get to see this defense against a formidable opponent next week. I have a feeling the defense will hold up well. I wish I was even one-tenth as confident about the offense going forward.