Banking on the Pats

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November 20, 2003
Banking on the Pats
by Sylvester Frazier, Jr.

Tony Banks gets his second start of the season. The first start of the season went fairly well for the Texans, as Banks helped Houston to a 14-10 victory over the NFC South front-running Carolina Panthers. Banks led the Texans on two long second half drives which not only ended in touchdowns, but consumed much of the clock, keeping the Texans defense off the field. With David Carr out due to a shoulder injury, Houston again is relying on its back up quarterback to come through against a division leader.

The New England Patriots’ journey to Houston after posting six consecutive wins, including last Sunday night’s "Bill Bowl" shut out of the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots are not spectacular in any phase of the game, but they have not played poorly this year, save for an opening day loss to Buffalo Bills, whom the Texans beat 12-10 last Sunday. The Patriots are a disciplined team that does not beat itself, and they do a great job of taking advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses.

While the Pats have strung together a series of good football games, the Texans are attempting (again) to win back-to-back games for the first time in franchise history. The Texans will need the defense to continue last week’s improved pass rush. Banks and the rest of Houston’s offense will need to do their parts by controlling the clock and taking advantage of the few opportunities that New England will provide during this Sunday’s tussle. If inclined, a person could believe that the Patriots are “due” for a bad game, especially with their long run of quality performances. The Texans game comes between the Bill Bowl and a road game against the Colts. Pats Head Coach Bill Belichick is good at keeping a team focused, but there is always hope for “look ahead”. What to Expect When the Texans have the ball…
Look for the New England defense to use a variety of fronts and coverages in an attempt to confuse the Texans’ blocking efforts. Officially the Patriots run a 3-4, but because of the versatility of their players, especially the linebacking core made up of Teddy Bruschi, Roman Phifer, Mike Vrabel, Ted Johnson and Dan Klecko, New England will line up in a variety of fronts without massive changes in personnel. Look for the Texans to keep the offensive gameplan simple. They’ll run Domanick Davis to control the clock but look deep in order to attempt to hit the big play will the talented trio of Andre Johnson, Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford.

When the Patriots have the ball…
The Patriots are chameleons on offense. Brady and company tend to take what a defense gives them. Since the Texans have been giving in both the run and pass, it’s difficult to predict what the Patriots will do. Neither Kevin Faulk nor Antowain Smith are special at the running back position, and the wide receiver core has suffered some injuries. Despite that, the Patriots still have been able to make plays down the field with Deion Branch and Troy Brown. The Texans were good at the “bend but don’t break” method against the Bills, and a similar effort will be needed against the opportunistic Pats.

Match-Ups to Watch Bill Belichick vs. Dom Capers
This is a battle of two of the best defensive schemers in the NFL. The game will most likely go to the coach who is most able to cause confusion to the opposing offense.

Ted Washington vs. Steve McKinney
McKinney is effective at pass protection and position blocking, but he can be overpowered by a stronger player. Unfortunately, Washington fits into the power mold. The key here will be getting McKinney help in beating Washington. Also, McKinney has to be good at recognizing defenses and making the proper calls, so his task against Washington will be all the more difficult.

Patriot Wide Receivers vs Texan Corners
If Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman are able to cover Deion Branch and Troy Brown, who is expected to return from injury, then Capers and Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio can still use the variety of run and pass formations and blitzes that were successful against the Bills. The Texans should be able to stuff a mediocre Patriots running game, especially if they corners do a good job of one-on-one coverage. New England has shown an ability to get deep on occasion, so the veteran corners of the Texans need to hold their ground.

Three Keys to Victory 1. Make the big play
The skill position players of the Texans need to make the plays when the opportunity arrises, because those chances will be few and far between.

2. Remember the fundamentals on defense The Texan defense needs to tackle well and make few mistakes. New England does not have special skill position players. The Patriots should not be able to consistently move the ball on long drives if the Texans do not help the process.

3. Make in-game adjustments on offense
Banks and the offensive line need to successfully read New England’s defense. The Patriots will attempt to beat the Texans with confusion and solid tackling, not with superior athleticism.

Views on the Game Saints   Bob says: Another Brady Bunch re-run? What’s on Fox? Patriots 27, Texans
Saints   Dave says: Tom Brady will do just enough to let their defense win it. Patriots 21 Texans 17 Saints   Keith says: Only because Patriot fans still love me for being a wicked frickin’ pissa. Texans 17, Patriots 16 Saints   Ric says: The clock strikes midnight for Tony Banks. Patriots 27, Texans 14 Saints   Warren says: The Texans are coming of age, but Belichick has the Pats rolling. Patriots 17, Texans 13

2003 Regular Season Records
Bob 7-3; Dave 5-5; Keith 5-5;
Ric 4-6; Warren 5-5

If you’d like to volunteer to write an upcoming GameDay Preview, let us know. Week 11 Preview New England Patriots
2003 Record: (8-2)
11.23.03 | 12pm
Houston, TX Texan Leaders David Carr
135/233, 1,641 yds., 8/9 Domanick Davis
140/655, 4.7 YPC, 3TD Andre Johnson
46/711, 15.5 YPC, 3 TD Patriot Leaders Tom Brady
188/323, 2,283 yds, 11/8 Kevin Faulk
112/428, 3.8 YPC, 0 TD

Deion Branch
31/496, 16.0 YPC, 2 TD

2003 Schedule Date Opponent Result 08.09 Denver 12-20 08.15 at Dallas 6-34 08.23 San Diego 17-19 08.28 at Tampa Bay 3-34 Regular Season 09.07 at Miami 21-20 09.14 at New Orleans 10-31 09.21 Kansas City 14-42 09.28 Jacksonville 24-20 10.05 Bye 10.12 at Tennessee 17-38 10.19 New York Jets 14-19 10.26 at Indianapolis 21-30 11.02 Carolina 14-10 11.09 at Cincinnati 27-34 11.16 at Buffalo 12-10 11.23 New England 20-23 11.30 Atlanta 17-13 12.07 at Jacksonville 0-27 12.14 at Tampa Bay 3-16 12.21 Tennessee 24-27 12.28 Indianapolis 17-20   Overall Record 5-11