Saturday, August 20, 2011

Was the Houston Texans' Defense the Key in Their 27-14 over the New Orleans Saints?

(Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loco Photography, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.)

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2011 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 20, 2011) Was the defense in the key in the Houston Texans' 27-14 drumming of the New Orleans Saints, taking their 2011 preseason record to 2-0 or did the offense just put more points on the scoreboard than the Saints?

Much has been written about Wade Phillips and 3-4 defense he has installed as defensive coordinator of the Texans.

In the post game interview, head coach Gary Kubiak was quoted on the Texans' defense:

I know they gave up a lot of yards but they made some big plays. The first drive of the game they (New Orleans Saints) go right down the field on them. You can get the ball moved on you defensively but if you step up and make a big play that's what it's all about and that's what they did. Antonio (Smith) made that big play early in the game that kind of flipped their emotions of the the game and got everybody going but I know we gave up too many yards and we got a lot of things to fix so we've got a long way to go.

That about says it all.

The defense was not a clean and concise as everyone would like to see, but remember this is just preseason.

When New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was sacked by Smith, ending the Saints drive, that was one of the big plays Kubiak was talking about.

That sack was the Texans' eighth of the season, which matched the team's total from the 2010 preseason.

Mario Williams, who was playing in his new outside linebacker position, recovered the fumble.

These are the things that can turn around a team and take them onward throughout the season.

Xavier Adibi had the unassisted and three assisted tackles from the inside linebacker position, while cornerback Brice McCain had four unassisted tackles.

In fact, 21 defensive players contributed to the Texans' 43 tackles with nine players assisting on tackles.

The Texans' also had four sack, with outside linebacker Brooks Reed accounting for two of them.

It was obvious from the press box, at least to me, that the defense line needed to buckle down and do a better job of shutting down the run.

The Saints rushed for 113 yards and although that was less that the Texans (208 yards), they were not getting the job done on the run.

The same could be said about the secondary, as the Saints threw for 218 yards which was pretty even to the Texans (228 yards).

However I think defensive, the Texans need to build their confidence and continue to embrace the defense scheme that Phillips whats to develop.

I also believe the Texans concentrated too much on defending against the pass, knowing Brees was going to go to the air.

As a result, the Saints were able to gain yardage on some big runs.

As I see it, the Texans' need to play better against the run and let the passes happen. If they can become a team that shuts down the run, then their opponents will be forced to go to the air.

I saw good things out of outside linebacker Brooks Reed against the Saints. He had two solo and one assisted tackle and seemed to be learning the defense better.

Coming out of college, he was used to playing a 4-3 defense and now he has to make a complete switch to the 3-4.

I think he will continue to mature and will make a good addition to the Texans.

Defense end J.J. Watt also stepped up and played better this week than he did against the New York Jets.

He had a single tackle, but did seem to get into the game a bit better.

In addition, he needs to stay at the line a bit more and work against the block. He is improving, and with three more weeks until the regular seasons starts, he will get better and better.

I think this win over the Saints was a needed victory, but the true test will come when the regular season starts.

When the Texans take to the field on Sept. 11 against the Indianapolis Colts, things will be different.

Their two (and possibly two more) preseason wins will just be a memory.

Overall, the Texans' defense is coming along, but they still have a long way to go.

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