This wasn’t the blowout we all wanted, but it’s the blowout we got.
The Texans allowed no touchdowns on defense, yet did manage to raise my ire by making Reggie Bush look like an NFL running back in the first half. That is just plain unacceptable!
More importantly, when this game looked like it might be close, the defense took things into their own hands. With the Texans running game struggling, JJ Watt pretty much decided he would put the whole team on his back. He logged 2 tackles and 1.5 sacks, but more importantly, once again Watt was swatting the ball all over the place. Two of those defensed passes resulted in two HUGE momentum-changing interceptions, first by Brian Cushing, then Kareem Jackson. On top that, Glover Quin leveled Dolphins’ running back Daniel Thomas, causing a fumble recovered by Danieal Manning.
The result of all these impact plays by the defense? With just under two minutes left in the first half, the Texans and Dolphins were tied 3-3. With seven seconds left in the first half, the Texans were up 24-3. That right there is what having an elite defense will do for you.
That said, there are some issues that need to be dealt with. Brian Cushing got banged up again on his interception, and ILB Tim Dobbins went to the hospital with a neck issue, for which he has now been released. The inside linebacker play after Cushing is NOT good, and if Dobbins misses any time with his neck, the Texans have gone from already thin depth at the position to alarmingly thin.
Up the middle, the Texans defense looked vulnerable in the first half. Reggie Bush (yes THAT Reggie Bush) was ripping off large chunks of yardage, which is ALWAYS a result of the defense doing something wrong. Depending on Dobbins’ health, I expect the Texans to make a move this week at ILB. Bobby Carpenter anyone? (Please, no.)
On the other side of the ball, as expected the Texans’ passing game looked sharp. I say it every year, but it never ceases to amaze me just how good Kubiak is at getting guys WIDE open.
The running game left something to be desired. Arian Foster was a little up and down, but the Texans have run-blocking problems. I’m gonna have to hit the NFL Rewind this week to get a better idea of how Derek Newton looked. But the Texans did have problems running left and right. There were also a lot more pitch outs to Foster than I recall. I guess the Texans figure they have a playmaker in Foster, and if the blocking isn’t necessarily going to be there, let Foster make a play.
Oh, and speaking of Foster – so much for my recent post where I hypothesize the Texans will put the ball in Ben Tate’s hands a lot more often this year. Clearly that is not the plan, through game one.
Matt Schaub looked pretty sharp out there, especially in the aforementioned wide open intermediate routes. We found out after the game that he and DE Tim Jamison both signed contract extensions. It’s four additional years for Schaub, plus the current season. We’ll save the contract talk for another entry, but the Texans clearly thought the deal they struck was good enough to bypass the need to be assured Schaub will stay healthy. Dangerous game, that. Again, I’ll save it for another entry.
Player of the Game is obviously Watt.
Play of the Game for me is the second Watt swat, which led to Kareem Jackson’s interception, which led to Foster’s second rushing touchdown to put the score at 17-3. The Texans would go on to add another TD on a pretty pass TD from Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson after Quin caused a Daniel Thomas fumble.
More during the week, including a “spotlight” using my fancy new NFL Rewind package. I’ll take a look at a player or a play – haven’t decided yet. It’ll be a work in progress, but I think it will add something new and interesting to the site.