I made a comment over at Steph’s blog regarding the “rematch” coming up on Monday night. Long story short – I’m concerned that Jared Allen will be frothing at the mouth, since he missed last week’s game due to an injury.
She replied, saying that teams can’t play scared… and I couldn’t agree more. There’s no “but” or “however” coming up here. It’s not really so much that I’m afraid Allen will be looking to deliver another cheap shot… it’s just the law of averages. For whatever reason, it seems to be set in stone that Matt Schaub has to play about three quarters on Monday night. That means there are going to be a lot of snaps between Brown and Allen… and, you know – one of them is arguably THE elite pass-rusher in the NFL, and one of them is about to start his second season.
Of all the players on the Texans, Brown might be the one most puzzling to me. If you look at them alone, Brown’s sack numbers make him one of the worst LT’s in the NFL, but we know the numbers rarely tell the entire story, or more accurately – they don’t tell the most important part of it.
Sure, Brown faced an unprecedented gauntlet of pass-rushers as a rookie last season. Yes, he plays in a division with tough defensive ends. These are all valid points that I agree with wholeheartedly – but the fact is he wasn’t good enough to stay on the field for every series last year. Was that just due to conditioning? I don’t know, but there was never any sort of rotation for any of the other offensive linemen.
If a guy isn’t good enough to play every down for Texans offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, then a guy isn’t good enough to play for Alex Gibbs, period. Clearly, Gibbs made an exception for Brown, and his patience might have paid off. From most accounts – he’s had an excellent training camp.
Media reports suggest that Gibbs is simply in love with Brown, and he feels like he can be a pro-bowl caliber tackle. Maybe, but a tough no-nonsense guy like Alex Gibbs couldn’t have been happy when Brown showed up for his rookie training camp a little out of shape, and played over his optimal weight all season last year (if you believe the reports that we’ve all read).
Both Brown and the Texans organization seemed to sort of “recommit” to each other in his second offseason. The team cut Brown’s backup (and every-third series replacement) Ephraim Salaam, despite him being quite capable, quality depth, and fairly cheap for what he does. For his part, Brown showed up to camp 10-15 pounds lighter, and has shown improvement, as mentioned before.
Still, how much can a 10-15 pounds-lighter second-year guy improve in just one offseason? The NFL cliche is that players make their biggest jumps from year one to year two… but it can’t be a big enough jump to keep Allen out of the backfield for three quarters. So, I wouldn’t say I was scared – just concerned… but who’s not? It’s only our playoff chances riding on every snap!