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Five Questions: The Houston Texans and Battle Red Blog!

Friday Five Questions:

Each week I'm going to do some sort of interview with an "enemy" blogger/journalist in order to enlighten our understanding of what's coming at us on Sunday.  This week we are blessed with Tim of Battle Red Blog who's a fantastic writer, if you don't mind it being about the Texans and all.  Anyhow, ere are the questions...

River City Rage: 1. Okay...this might not be hard for you, but I'd like you to imagine that I know nothing about the Texans.  Now explain to me what is going on at Running Back.  Will we get a Samkon Gado sighting anytime soon?  Even though he's a Texan now, I fell for his "put myself through Medical School" story.

Battle Red Blog::  The RB situation is actually pretty simple.  Depth chart goes (1) A. Green; (2) R. Dayne; (3) S. Gado.  Green has missed the last two (2) games (and most of the Indy game before that) with a knee injury that was allegedly suffered in Week One.  The Texans expect him back on Sunday, which will be a HUGE boost to a running game that has been positively abysmal in his absence (161 total rushing yards in the last two games).  Ahman isn't 100%, but he should be a marked improvement over the two-headed "monster" that is Dayne and Gado.

Don't get me wrong--Samkon Gado is a great story.  But he hasn't duplicated the success he had in Green Bay thus far.  He's very easy to root for, and I'd love nothing more than for him to break off a long run or two against Jacksonville.  But I doubt he sees the field.

RCR: 2. I remember not long ago watching the Texans and seeing the development of the "Triplets", that being Domanick Davis, David Carr and Andre Johnson.  With two out of the three out of Houston, who's stepped in to be your offensive studs?

BRB:  I loathe the Cowboys with every fiber of my being.  But even I have to take exception with you mentioning Carr, Davis, and Johnson in the same sentence as "Triplets."  One of those three (3) is an unadulterated stud and may be bound for Canton one day.  The only way the other two will be seen in Canton is if they buy a ticket like the rest of us.

With that out of the way, I'll point you to the following players as guys who have stepped up on offense at the skill positions--Owen Daniels (tremendous receiving threat at TE); Andre' Davis (has become the primary deep threat at WR in 'Dre's absence), and Jacoby Jones (rookie PR/WR who has shown flashes of brilliance at both positions).  Coincidentally, Jones is expected back on Sunday after missing the last two (2) weeks with a separated shoulder.  Watch out for him.

RCR: 3. I've been saying for two years now that Houston is building a Jaguars-style defense, at least in how you address your front seven.  You've got a Mike Peterson in DeMeco Ryans, a nasty DE like one of ours in Mario Williams, and a huge potential talent on the inside Amobi Okoye.  Who's the next rising star? I say "Jaguars-style", but you could define it as "you better have 7 guys who can stop the run if you want any chance in hell of stopping Indy" defense. Clearly, in our division, if you want to stop or beat the Colts, you need the ability to stop the run with as few bodies as possible, therefore freeing safeties to cover the multitude of receivers that Indy can throw at you. That being said, could you tell us about your secondary?

BRB:  The strength of the Houston defense is definitely in the front seven.  Okoye already looks like a Pro Bowler, showing a rare ability to rush the passer and stop the run at DT.  Super Mario already has three (3) sacks, and teams run away from his side more often than not.  And DeMeco--what can I even say?  He's the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year and the captain of the defense for a reason.

As good as the front seven is, the secondary is very vulnerable.  Dunta Robinson has been playing at an All-Pro level this season, and opposing teams have been reluctant to throw at him.  That's both a testament to his ability and to how easy it has been to throw at the other CB (Petey Faggins).  Faggins looked atrocious against Indy and Atlanta; there was talk of him being benched, but Kubes stuck with him against Miami, and he played well.  Despite that show of faith, the staff also began rotating rookie CB Fred Bennett in and shifting Faggins to nickelback (his natural position); Bennett looked fairly good too, so expect to see him on the field a good deal on Sunday, particularly in obvious passing situations.

At the safety spots, Von Hutchins has performed admirably at FS after two (2) season-ending injuries at SS forced him into a starting role from his backup role at CB.  C.C. Brown lights people up at SS, but his coverage skills leave much to be desired; for that reason, the team traded for Michael Boulware and signed Will Demps in the hopes that either or both could shore up the position.  Those two guys are still learning the playbook, however, so their contributions have been limited.

Make no mistake--the defense can be attacked through the air.  Although the Jags run the ball extremely well, I'd be shocked if Del Rio & Co. didn't take several shots down the field.

RCR: 4. Why oh why is it that the Texans always seem to play the Jaguars so tough and close?  I was ridiculed by a Texans fan on a message board because I was too "cautiously optimisitc" about the Jaguars' chances.  Clearly, I'm shellshocked.  In fact, I think this week's game is making it so I can't sleep.  So while you're pondering why the Texans are scary to the Jaguars, give me the Texans biggest weakness so I've got something to be excited about.

BRB :  I can't explain why the Texans play the Jags so tough; it's not exactly a natural rivalry.  I do know, however, that the Carr Era featured several accusations that your boys played dirtier than most; perhaps that's why the Texans seem to bring their "A" game every time our squads meet.  Frankly, I don't care what their motivation long as it produces wins, I'm in total support of it.

As discussed in my responses to Questions 1 and 3, the two biggest weaknesses are the running game and the secondary.  The former should get better with the return of Ahman Green.  Unfortunately, the latter isn't likely to be as quick of a fix.  Houston fans pretty much just cross their fingers and reach for the whiskey every time a pass is thrown anywhere not in Dunta's vicinity.

RCR : 5. Finally, and I'm completely borrowing this from your questions, so please don't hate me. Put your name on it:  Sunday's final score will be Houston _, Jacksonville __.  And at the end of the regular season, the AFC South will read as follows:  __ (record), ___ (record), ___ (record), and ____ (record).  Feel free to torment Stampede Blue by putting the Colts in last place.

BRB :  As I said here, I'm calling Texans 24, Jags 23 in the latest barn-burner.

With regard to the final regular season standings, I'll preface this by saying that the Nashville Oilers are playing far better than I thought they would; I originally had them penciled in for no more than six (6) wins, so I'm revising accordingly:

  1.  Indy (11-5)
  2.  Jacksonville (9-7)
  3.  Houston (8-8)
  4.  Vince Young (7-9)
Best of luck on Sunday.

River City Rage: You too!

So there you have it, five insights into the workings of the Texans.  Good infomation there, especially about the condition of the secondary.  I'm hoping that we exploit that with a little Dennis Northcutt/ John Broussard deep routes, if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, I did a very similar interview over at Battle Red Blog, so jump over there and check it out!