Texans Jacked Up

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October 16, 2007
Texans Jacked Up

by Mike Kerns

A statement that has been made plenty this year has been “These aren’t your father’s Texans!” Well, today that statement could have been vastly contested. Today, everything that could have went wrong, did. The end result, a 37-17 drumming from division rivals Jacksonville, led to familiar territory: Last place in the AFC South.

It began so promising, though. With Ahman Green healthy and lining up in the backfield for the first time in weeks, he took his inaugural rush of the game up the middle for a gain of 9 yards. Just like that, the play action was back to being effective. It showed, as Matt Schaub found Kevin Walter for a completion of 46 yards. Just like that, the Texans were moving the ball easily into the Jacksonville red zone. This is where the story begins to have a more recurring theme.

Whatever it is that is keeping the Texans from being able to capitalize on goal downs is really beginning to affect this team. After three straight running plays up the middle, the team settled for a Kris Brown field goal. Haven’t we heard this somewhere before?

Jacksonville followed with a field goal from veteran John Carney to knot the score at 3-3. However, a facemask penalty nullified the score and forced Carney to retry from fifteen more yards out. He missed wide right, and the Houston defense seemed to be charged up even more. The offense too, as Ahman Green ran twice for a quick first down. Showing tremendous pocket presence, Matt Schaub connected with TE Owen Daniels for completions of 21 and 23 yards to set up a first-and-goal on the Jacksonville 10-yard line.

This was where the game completely changed. Thinking that the red zone ineffectiveness had ended, Schaub found Andre Davis for a touchdown in the right corner of the field. But, in a play reminiscent of Jabar Gaffney back in 2004 against the Jags, the ball was fumbled before he broke the plane for a touchdown. As the football rolled out of bounds and changed possession to Jacksonville, you just knew it was going to be one of those days.

The Houston defense, looking much more inspired in the first half today, forced two Jacksonville turnovers that tallied another Kris Brown field goal and led to a 6-0 Texans lead with just under ten minutes left to play in the half. This was when the referee’s game calling got a little questionable.

After a 13-play drive, Jacksonville had a third-and-one to go on the Houston 1-yard line. The next play, David Garrard found TE Greg Wrightster for the touchdown. But a penalty for an illegal block on Jaguars TE Greg Estandia brought the score back. The call, as seconded by the broadcast team, appeared to be correct. However, the flag was picked up and the touchdown stood after some griping from Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio. Gary Kubiak was less than pleased and he let the officiating team know it with some colorful language from the sidelines. Regardless, griping from Kubiak didn’t seem to hold as much weight as it did for Del Rio, as the score stood at 7-6 Jags.

With plenty of time left to get down the field and try to regain the lead going into overtime, Del Rio made an unexpected call and elected to try a surprise onside kick on the frustrated and distraught Texans. It wasn’t even close, as Carney looked as if he had practiced this several times. With the recovery at their own 41-yard line and 3:51 left to play, Jacksonville went up 10-6 on a Carney field goal heading into the half.

Jacksonville opened up the second half and made it look easy, as Garrad led a 14-play scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown and a 16-6 lead. The extra point attempt was blocked by Michael Boulware. Still within reach, the Houston offense looked shaky, at best. But after some luck on a punt, Houston got the ball back and eventually got yet another Kris Brown score. Trailing only 16-9 leading into the fourth, it appeared to be anyone’s game.

Yet, this fourth quarter belonged to Jacksonville RB Maurice Jones-Drew. With the Texans seemingly inability to defend against a screen pass, he seemed to be at the end of every big gain. Eventually, his touchdown ran the score up to 23-9 Jags with under fourteen minutes to play.

Matt Schaub, who has dominated fourth quarters this year, went to work. He hit Kevin Walter for 21 yards and again for 10 yards on a fourth-and-7. Just when it seemed like there was still hope, Schaub was sacked from behind by Paul Spicer and the ball jarred loose. It was scooped up by Daryl Smith and returned 77 yards for a touchdown and a commanding 30-9 fourth quarter lead. By this point, even Schaub looked defeated and confused.

On the next series – Schaub’s last – his complete pass to Davis was ripped away by Brian Williams for an interception and led to a 57-yard touchdown run by the aforementioned Jones-Drew. By this point, with the game as good as a rout, Schaub was relieved and handed over the reins to backup QB Sage Rosenfels.

On a positive note, Rosenfels was able to actually get Houston into the end zone in garbage time. But it didn’t make this one sting any less. Games between these two franchises are always competitive and exciting. But this was the ugliest Texans game I have seen personally since the victory against the Raiders last season. The defense just couldn’t seem to get off the field and they suffered for it. In turn, so did the offense, which looked absolutely out of sync from standing on the sidelines so long.

The team couldn’t have been pleased with their performance, nor with losing for the third time in four games. Long gone is the 2-0 love fest that was going around Houston a few short weeks ago. It doesn’t get any easier either, with another division rival Tennessee and prodigal son Vince Young returning to Reliant for another showdown. With sole possession of last place at hand, I wouldn’t expect either of these teams to be content with not giving a complete effort next Sunday.

At 3-3, the season is not lost. Calm down with all of the gloom and doom. We have ten games left to go. Also, the first person that starts the “Bench Schaub, Play Rosenfels!” rant is going to get a personal slap from yours truly. What Went Right?

Ed McCaffrey II
I was as guilty as anyone who thought Kevin Walter had about as much in common with Broncos stalwart Ed McCaffrey as I did. But he has really proved himself to me with Andre Johnson out as a legitimate #2 option as a WR. He ended the day with 160 yards on 12 receptions, making some fantasy football GM very happy.

No Methodist Visit Today
For a change, there was no serious injury to a Texans player. While Ahman Green was back, we still saw no glimpse of Jacoby Jones. Hopefully, Andre Johnson can make it back next week and we will have most everyone back.

Ummmm…. I Can’t Really Think Of a Third Thing…
You know it was a bad day when I’m listing no significant injuries as the second best thing that went right today…

What Went Wrong?

Where’s Six?
Honestly, maybe this not being able to capitalize in the red zone is a mental thing. For the love of the football gods, try a different play call than running a first and goal straight up the middle three consecutive plays. My girlfriend doesn’t even watch football much and even she saw it coming…

Can We Defend A Screen Pass?
Ronnie Brown last week, Maurice Jones-Drew & Fred Taylor this week. Again, the rush defense is looking like a joke. Missed tackles are giving up ridiculously long plays. Fred Taylor ran one for 77 yards that could have been prevented. Same with Jones-Drew’s 57-yarder late in the fourth. Please, practice how to defend a screen pass in practice this week.

Penalties, Penalties, Penalties!!!
While I do think that most of the calls in this game were questionable (i.e. Officials completely missing a delay of game call that was about three seconds past zero), the drive killing penalties have to stop. Especially with the defense on third downs. I know the team that loses is going to complain about the officiating more than the team that wins, but today it felt like there were two opponents facing Houston.

Key Play Of The Game

Threatening to take a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, Andre Davis caught a Matt Schaub pass for what appeared to be an easy touchdown. However, the ball was slapped out of his hand at the goal line and rolled out of bounds giving the Jags the ball on the 20. It was a play that the Houston offense never seemed to recover from.

Week 6 Jags HC Jack Del Rio rubs the head of RB Maurice Jones-Drew for good luck. Final Score Houston Texans 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 37 Texans Leaders Matt Schaub
19/31, 259 yds, 0/1 Ahman Green
16/44, 2.8 YPC, 0 TD Kevin Walter
12/160, 13.3 YPC, 0 TD Jaguars Leaders David Garrard
22/34, 221 yds, 2/0 Maurice Jones-Drew
12/125, 10.4 YPC, 2 TD

Maurice Jones-Drew
4/59, 14.8 YPC, 0 TD

Lookin’ Good

Offensive Powerhouse
Kris Brown continues to be automatic, and the only high point of a struggling Houston offense.

Oh, my eyes!

Can You Tackle, Honestly?
The Houston defense looked terrible today, giving up 457 yards, 244 of them on the ground.

2007 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.11 Chicago 19-20 08.18 at Arizona 33-20 08.25 Dallas 28-16 08.30 at Tampa Bay 24-31 Regular Season 09.09 Kansas City 20-3 09.16 at Carolina 34-21 09.23 Indianapolis 24-30 09.30 at Atlanta 16-26 10.07 Miami 22-19  10.14 at Jacksonville 17-37 10.21 Tennessee  36-38 10.28 at San Diego   11.04 at Oakland   11.11 BYE  — 11.18 New Orleans   11.25 at Cleveland   12.02 at Tennessee   12.09 Tampa Bay   12.13 Denver   12.23 at Indianapolis   12.30 Jacksonville     Overall Record 3-4