It’s time for this week’s 5 Questions. With the Texans on the menu, I asked Tim and Scott over at Battle Red Blog, SB Nation’s Texans blog, to answer five questions about Houston. Their answers are informative and funny. Of course, when you blog for the Texans, sense of humor is key.
And away we go...
Blogging The Boys: The big story for the Texans - out with David Carr, in with Matt Schaub. What's the analysis so far...is Schaub the man for the job? Does anything look different on offense?
Battle Red Blog: It’s still early, but three things are clear: (1) Schaub has not called a press conference concerning his hair; (2) Schaub’s dad does not hang out in the locker room, yelling at the coaches when they’re "mean" to his son; and (3) Schaub has yet to run frantically for the sideline or curl up into the fetal position upon seeing a defender cross the line of scrimmage. Instead, Schaub has made precise throws after making multiple reads under pressure and has looked every bit of the poised professional in the pocket. Since the day he was traded to Houston, Schaub’s teammates have raved about his leadership and work ethic, two things that were not high on the list of David Carr’s attributes. At the risk of gushing, Schaub has been everything we hoped for (and more). Needless to say, we’re rather bullish on our new QB.
BTB: Wade Phillips was talking about the Texans' receivers as being a challenge for our defense and specifically mentioned their speed. Does Andre Johnson finally have some help?
BRB: God, we hope so. The Texans’ receiving corps is still very unproven, but it’s safe to say that the group oozes more potential from top to bottom than any previous set of wideouts in the team’s five-year history. Kevin Walter is considered the No. 2 right now; Kubiak has likened him to Ed McCaffrey for his route-running and sure hands. Despite that praise, rookie Jacoby Jones has recently been declared to be the "No. 2 ½" WR, and it seems to be a mere matter of time before he becomes the permanent No. 2 opposite Andre. The kid is phenomenally fast and has shown flashes of absolute brilliance at WR and in the return game. If he keeps this up, Houston fans will one day name children after him. Jerome Mathis, a Pro Bowl kick return man two years ago, is another track star. Mathis was drafted in the hope that he could become a big-time WR, but a combination of poor health and stupid off-field decisions have hindered that dream. That said, he’s been healthy and effective thus far in the preseason. The last few roster spots at WR will be a fight between Andre Davis (likely in), Charlie Adams (on the bubble), Bethel Johnson (likely out), and Keenan McCardell (on the bubble due to his inability to stay healthy this preseason). And hey—if things don’t work out with these guys, we hear that Corey Bradford is still available.
BTB: We have to talk about it...how has Mario Williams progressed? Will he be able to make the comments about passing on Bush and Young go away?
BRB: Mario Williams had 4.5 sacks last season and endured consistent double teams from opposing offenses. What’s more, he basically played the second half of last season on one leg. As you can probably tell, we’re a bit sensitive when it comes to Super Mario; our latest spirited defense of him can be found here. The two keys to Mario’s success this year will be (a) staying healthy (just like anyone else) and (b) his cohorts on the defensive line. If guys like Amobi Okoye, Jason Babin, N.D. Kalu, Anthony Weaver, and Travis Johnson (fat chance) emerge as run-stoppers and/or threats, Mario will have more of a chance to pile up sacks. If they continue to struggle, Mario’s learning curve will remain rather steep. Despite coming into a situation where nearly every Texans fan was predisposed to question his place on the team (which, we should note, nearly NEVER happens with the No. 1 overall pick), Mario’s handled himself with exceptional class and humility. He’s easy to root for, and we’re confident the rest of the country will see him begin to become the player the Texans thought he’d be as the season progresses. That said, the digs for passing on Bush and VY will never go away unless Mario averages 10 sacks per year and wins a Super Bowl in Houston.
BTB: How has preseason gone for Houston? Any major injuries we should be aware of? How long will the starters go in this game?
BRB: Starting SS Glenn Earl was lost for the season with a foot injury during the preseason opener against Chicago, and Charles Spencer (starting left tackle) has been placed on the PUP list as a result of a leg injury that he suffered in Week Two of last season. All other hands should be on deck this week. Kubiak has indicated that he expects his starters to play into the third quarter against Dallas. [ed. note – BRB emailed me later to note DE Anthony Weaver will be held out of the game and may not be ready for the opener.]
BTB: I love DeMeco Ryans. Talk about him and who else on defense should be a major player this year?
BRB: DeMeco Ryans is already the leader of the defense. He’s fast, quick, strong, smart and ridiculously poised. What’s more, he’s constantly around the ball. We also have heard he’s figured out the cures to the common cold and leprosy. We couldn’t ask for anything more at MLB, and DeMeco should be captaining the defense for the next ten years. With regard to his teammates, Dunta Robinson should be someone to watch this year. He’s a complete stud against the run, but his coverage skills have left something to be desired at various points throughout his tenure in Houston. God have mercy on NFL wide receivers if Dunta improves in coverage and becomes the CB he can be. And that’s entirely necessary, because Petey Faggins (the other starting CB) is getting lit up like a Parliament cigarette on a disturbingly regular basis. The secondary is undoubtedly the weakest unit on the entire team, which only increases the pressure on the defensive line and linebackers. The secondary simply cannot be left on an island, or the Texans are going to be on the receiving end of several beatings from opposing QBs.
Thanks to Tim and Scott for the knowledge. You can see my answers over there.