2002 Record: (2-1) 09.29.02 | 12pm
September 26, 2002
Looking for Love in Philly
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans face their biggest challenge of their young season this Sunday when they travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles. The Texans are coming off arguably their worst performance to date, losing 23-3 to the Colts last week. Meanwhile, the Eagles throttled the Cowboys, 44-13, in perhaps their best performance of the year.
The Eagles feature a well rounded attack, with an offense and defense ranked fifth in the league. The Texans’ defense ranks a respectable 15th, but what a shock — the offense ranks dead last in nearly every category. With this in mind, the line setters opened with the Texans as 20-point underdogs.
The Eagles’ offense features a prolific quarterback in Donovan McNabb. He can single-handedly win games for this team. McNabb has a superb 99.3 QB rating with eight TD’s and only two INT’s and also leads his team in rushing with an 8.4 average per carry. His supporting cast is more than adequate. He has a decent trio of running backs (Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and Dorsey Levens) and a veteran receiving corps led by James Thrash and Antonio Freeman. There is no significant weakness on this team on either side of the ball.
But enough about the Eagles; back in Houston, the Texans’ pathetic offense continued its downward spiral last week by scoring a measly field goal for the second straight game. Yep, three points last week against a Colts defense that had allowed 46 in its first two games combined — real impressive. This week, they face an Eagle defense that has not allowed a touchdown since week 1 and allow their opponents an average of only 3.6 yards on first down, tops in the league.
The Texans problems are clear: sacks, penalties and dropped balls continue to hamstring a young offense trying to find something — anything — to build on. One bright spot was the emergence of rookie RB Jonathan Wells out of Ohio State. Wells ran like a madman in the second half against the Colts, ending the day just shy of the 100 yard rushing mark. He may have played his way into the starting line-up, which would give the offense a total of six rookie starters.
When Houston has the ball…
Expect David Carr on his ass; after that, who the hell knows? Week 1, the Texans come out guns a blazing; since then they haven’t even sniffed the end zone. Offensive coordinator Chris Palmer has showed no ingenuity whatsoever and he was lucky that Jonathan Wells ran as well as he did last week, otherwise the offensive numbers would have been much worse. Expect Palmer to use Wells heavily to try and control the ball. The Texans best defense this week will be to keep McNabb off the field. Palmer also needs to come up with plays to combat the blitz, because you can bet the farm that the Eagles will blitz everyone but Andy Reid.
When Philadelphia has the ball…
Get ready for Donovan McNabb, because you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.
The Eagles have scored 105 points in three games and look to double that total this week. They come at you from every angle, if McNabb isn’t completing passes, he’s running for first downs. If he isn’t running for first downs, someone else is. There is no simple way to stop this offense. Freeman and Thrash are veterans who rarely drop the ball, and Staley is a double threat on the ground and in the air. The Texans best bet is to try and contain McNabb and let someone else beat them. Chances are, Freman will be that man. Head Coach Andy Reid has said he plans to involve him more with the offense.
1. Protect David Carr
Carr has been sacked 19 times in three weeks, but only four last week, all in the last four minutes of the game. Tony Boselli, Ryan Young and Ryan Schau are still out, and fill-in Jimmy Herndon is hampered by an injury, too, but the excuses have to stop. Everyone on the offensive line is a professional, it’s time they start playing like it. The O-line accounted for six penalties last week, an inexcusable amount. They will have to limit penalties and give Carr at least a few seconds to get a pass off. Chris Palmer needs to call plays with short quick routes to help the line do its job.
2. Keep the Eagles’ offense off the field
The best defense is a good offense, too bad there will be only one on Sunday. If there is any inkling of a chance for the Texans to win, they will have to control the clock. The Eagles are masters at wearing down opposing defenses with their multitude of offensive weapons. Jonathan Wells and James Allen will need to combine for at least 150 yards to allow the Texans defense to have a chance to stop the Eagles offense.
3. Contain the Nabster
Can it be done? Yes, but it won’t be easy. McNabb has completed over 60% of his passes so far and is averaging 260 yards passing per game. Thrash and Freeman force opposing defenses to respect both the run and pass, opening up lanes for McNabb to run wild. The Texans best chance is for the Eagles to not show up on Sunday, thinking this was their bye week.
Marcus Coleman vs. Thrash/Freeman
Coleman has given up long touchdown passes in each of the last two games. Don’t think for a second that the Eagles won’t be picking on him. Aaron Glenn has proven himself as a solid corner on the other side, forcing defenses to look Coleman’s direction. Look for Thrash and Freeman to test him early. This battle could be the deciding factor.
Jamie Sharper vs. Donavan McNabb
Sharper will have to keep his eye on McNabb at all times. As the leader of the defense, he needs to be the one to step up and make McNabb seem human. If the Texans defense can gain confidence early, and the offense can help keep McNabb off the field, the game can be kept close.
The Texans vs. The Spread
Twenty point underdogs with a 36 over/under. The Texans may not have much of a shot to win, but they should take this lack of respect personally. A solid effort is all that matters this week; this will be a true test of the fortitude of this team. If they get killed, they may not win more than one or two more games this year. On the other hand, a respectable showing would go a long way to help the confidence level of the team.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Eagles poop on Carr. We have a Tony Banks sighting. Eagles 37, Texans 3
Dave: It’s gonna be ugly. REAL ugly. Eagles 31 Texans 6
Jimmy: The Texans score a meaningless TD late against the Eagles’ spares. Eagles 37, Texans 10
Keith: Texans begin bye one week early. Philly decalres themselves Texas state champs. Eagles 30, Texans 0
Ric: I picked Houston to beat Indy… once bitten, twice shy. Eagles 27, Texans 10
Warren: The Eagles sport the best QB and possibly the best defense that the Texans will face this year. Eagles 38, Texans 10
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 2-1; Dave 2-1; Jimmy 3-0; Keith 3-0;
Ric 1-2; Warren 2-1
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 69 28 331 2/4 TEAM 69 28 331 2/4 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 43 134 3.1 0 TEAM 90 302 3.4 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 6 129 21.5 1 TEAM 28 331 11.8 2 EAGLES PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT McNabb 111 68 791 8/2 TEAM 114 70 813 9/2 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD McNabb 14 118 8.4 2 TEAM 76 401 5.3 3 REC NO YDS AVG TD Thrash 14 219 15.6 3 TEAM 70 813 11.6 9 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review