Yes, I’m purposely avoiding the use of the phrase “quarter pole.”
After what seemed like an eternity from the final game of 2009 leading up to the opening tail-kicking the Texans laid on the Colts, the first quarter of the 2010 season has breezed by in the blink of an eye.
Let’s take a look at some interesting (or not) numbers through the first four games:
688 team rushing yards
In 2009 through four games, the Texans had 332 yards rushing (only 101 through the first two games). For 2010, Arian Foster (537 of those yards) has made all the difference in the world, and of course the offensive line has been absolutely dominant in two of the first four games. Steve Slaton’s phenomenal rookie performance in 2008 is sadly a distant memory now, and after Derrick Ward somehow plodded his way to 80 yards against Oakland, Gary Kubiak has already said we will be seeing a lot more of Ward.
415.5 offensive yards per game
This number is good for 2nd in the league behind only the San Diego Chargers who are averaging 450.8 (wow). The Texans have shown their offensive prowess on the ground (Indianapolis and Oakland) and in the air (Washington). In truth, the Texans were running the ball pretty well against the Redskins as well, but were playing from behind almost from the start. The Dallas game never happened. Don’t look it up – it just never happened.
The Texans’ nine sacks have them in the top ten in the league (9th place), despite the loss of Connor Barwin who most thought would cruise to being number two in sacks on the team behind Mario Williams. Still, the pass rush needs to be more consistent. Through four games, it’s been consistently disruptive twice (Indianapolis and Oakland), inconsistent once (Washington), and completely non-existent once (Dallas – if that game had actually happened. Which it didn’t!). Going forward, I can think of two big bright spots for the Texans’ pass rush. 1) Brian Cushing is back, and that will absolutely be a boost. 2) It’s not just the Mario Williams (5 sacks) show so far. Antonio Smith has been better than expected in the pass-rushing department (2.5 sacks) to this point. When the pass rush has clicked, he’s been getting consistent pressure. Having 7.5 sacks between your starting defensive ends through four games – I’ll take it.
41 4th quarter points
The Texans are finishing strong in 2010. They’ve scored 41 of their 108 points in the 4th quarter, and 71 of their 108 points in the second half plus overtime combined. This is due to many reasons, some of them I’m sure are random and of no significance – but it could also be because the Texans are wearing teams down with the run game in the second half. Gary Kubiak gave strength and conditioning coach Cedric Smith a game ball after the overtime win over Washington. Maybe it’s because the Texans are making great 2nd half adjustments, something you couldn’t often say about them in the past.
4 turnovers on defense
Ugh. Every year, Gary Kubiak beats the living hell out of the same drum. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. Protecting against them on offense, and getting after them on defense. While the pass rush seems to be on the rise, the defense is doing next to nothing in the way of turnovers. The Texans have two fumble recoveries and two interceptions – both of which were hauled in by Troy Nolan against the Raiders. The Texans also got their second fumble recovery of the year against Oakland, meaning three of their four turnovers in 2010 have come in one game. Thinking about the season so far, I can’t think of a case where the Texans have even come CLOSE to making interceptions other than the two that Eugene Wilson blew in consecutive weeks against Washington and Dallas.
36 catches, 410 yards, 3 touchdowns given up to the TE position
I don’t think any of us are surprised that the Texans are having a hard time covering tight ends – it’s been a weakness on this team for a while, but those numbers are beyond ridiculous. Lots of talk on the radio this week about how the return of Brian Cushing will help turn this trend around… did I miss that Cushing is good at covering tight ends? Was it only Dallas Clark who turned him inside-out last year? Sure, his pass-rushing can help the problem, but his coverage skills? Not sure about that one. One thing’s for sure – they can’t get any worse in that regard.
7-3 record in their last 10 road games
After turning a 2-6 road record in 2008 into a 5-3 road record in 2009, it’s extremely encouraging to see that the team has thus far been able to continue their winning ways on the road. Two major things that true playoff contenders need to do well if they’re going to do some real damage in the playoffs are winning division games, and winning on the road. So far, the Texans are perfect in both areas. Their next test in both departments will come in a huge rematch against the Colts on Monday night, November 1.
Perhaps my favorite number of all, right now. Brian Cushing is back, and there’s going to be hell to pay for some poor sap on the Giants roster – and probably for poor Chris Ogbonnaya, an innocent RB on the Texans’ practice squad. Lace’em up tight this week, Oggy.
What has pleasantly surprised or disappointed you to this point in the season?