2002 Record: (2-3) 10.13.02 | 12pm
October 10, 2002
Old Nemesis, New Team
by Jimmy Mohr
The Houston Texans get back to action this Sunday when the new and improved Buffalo Bills rumble into town. The Bills are coming off a horrendous 3-13 campaign in 2001 but have shown improvement this season by winning two of their first five games. The biggest reason for this resurgence is the acquisition of Patriots castoff, Drew Bledsoe. He was plugged in as the new starting QB after an ineffective Rob Johnson left for Tampa Bay.
The change has paid off immensely so far; Bledsoe’s 1,762 passing yards is the most ever for a Bill after five games and he has 12 touchdown passes, tied for the league lead. His outstanding performance has allowed wide receiver’s Peerless Price and Eric Moulds to emerge as arguably the most lethal 1-2 receiving tandem in the league. Moulds and Price are both on pace to surpass 100 receptions for the year and should easily eclipse 1,000 yards by the end of the season.
The Bills offense ranks fourth in the league overall which should equate to a better record than 2-3. The problem is their defense, which ranks near the bottom in all categories. It’s tough to win when the defense allows an average of 358 yards and 36 points per game. In fact, the fewest points they’ve allowed was 27 against the Bears, Chicago’s best scoring output of the season. The defense not only allows a ton of yards and points, they create very few turnovers. It’s a gambling unit that has yet to intercept a pass this season, resulting in a -4 turnover ratio.
What does all of this futility mean? It means the Texans have a chance this week to have a breakout game offensively. In the Texans’ last game against the Eagles, the offense began to show signs of life against a great defense. This week, the opportunity is there to establish a running game and strike with the deep pass. The Bills allowed ten plays of 20+ yards last week against the Raiders. This Sunday, the game will come down to how well the Texans offense performs against a Bills defense that can stop no one.
What to expect when Houston has the ball…
If there was ever a week to score, this is it. Buffalo ranks 26th in overall defense and has allowed an average of 36 points per game. The Texans should have success on the ground; in fact if Jonathan Wells or James Allen can get enough touches, we could see our first 100-yard rusher. If the running game does get going, David Carr will have the opportunity to show why he was the first pick in last year’s draft. Look for Corey Bradford, or maybe even Jabar Gaffney, to have a big game against Buffalo’s suspect corners.
What to expect when Buffalo has the ball…
Drew Bledsoe’s had to do it with his arm all year so there’s no reason to think otherwise for this week’s game. The Bills’ confidence in RB Travis Henry is wavering after he has fumbled the ball four times in his first four games this year. This, coupled with the fact they have had to try and compensate for their porous defense, has resulted in twice as many pass plays as rushes (218 to 103). Peerless Price and Eric Moulds will give Marcus Coleman and Aaron Glenn all that they can handle. If the Texans can pressure Bledsoe out of the pocket, they can force him into poor throws and hopefully interceptions.
1. Establish the running game
The Bills allows more yards on the ground than almost every other defense in the league. The front seven’s lack of stopping power exposes a weak secondary and allows opposing teams to hit the big plays. If the Texans get going on the ground early, Carr will be given the opportunity to light up the Texas sky. The question is: can he do it?
2. Pressure Bledsoe
Most of Drew Bledsoe’s mistakes occur when he is outside the pocket. If the Texans can successfully disguise their blitz packages and keep Bledsoe guessing, they may be able to cool him off. And he’ll put the ball on the turf, too.
3. Win the turnover battle
The quickest way to slow a run-and-gun offense is to take the ball away from them; fortunately, the secondary should have plenty of chances to pick one off, considering how many times Bledsoe drops back and throws. On the Texans’ side of the ball, the Bills have yet to intercept a pass this season. David Carr has thrown six in four games; something will have to give.
Peerless Price & Eric Moulds vs. Aaron Glenn & Marcus Coleman
Glenn and Coleman had better be limbered up by game time. Either Price or Moulds has totaled at least 100 receiving yards in every game this season. Coleman is weaker on the corner than Glenn; expect him to get picked on early. If Coleman and Glenn can somehow slow these guys down, the Texans can win this game.
Drew Bledsoe vs. Texans’ front seven
The Texans defensive front will try and put as much pressure on Bledsoe as possible. Expect Jamie Sharper and former Bills LB Jay Foreman to blitz up the middle in an attempt to flush Bledsoe from the pocket. Look for Foreman, in particula,r since he has something to prove to his former team. Foreman led the Bills with 102 tackles last year, only to be traded to the Texans in the off-season. He has had this game circled on his calendar ever since. I’m guessing.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: Texans keep it close and nearly pull off the upset. Running clock on offense a key. Bills 33, Texans 27
Dave: Bledsoe is brought back to earth while Carr soars. Texans 24 Bills 23
Jimmy: Carr and Gaffney have breakout games. Texans 34, Bills 31
Keith: With the bye week to prepare, the Texans will take this down to the wire. Bills 27, Texans 23
Ric: Texans slow down Bledsoe and have a legit shot if they can win turnover battle. Bills 27, Texans 17
Warren: Off week + offense coming together + home field + manageable opponent = win #2. Texans 24, Bills 20
2002 Regular Season Records Bob 3-1; Dave 3-1; Jimmy 4-0; Keith 4-0;
Ric 2-2; Warren 3-1
TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 98 44 519 4/6 TEAM 98 44 519 4/6 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Allen 57 175 3.1 0 TEAM 114 393 3.4 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 13 226 17.4 3 TEAM 44 519 11.9 4 BILLS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT Bledsoe 218 148 1762 12/5 TEAM 218 148 1762 12/5 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Henry 82 340 4.1 5 TEAM 103 395 3.8 6 REC NO YDS AVG TD Moulds 41 525 12.8 3 TEAM 148 1762 11.9 12 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