The Texans week-one disappointment was layered in the various questions that surrounded the, 34-20 loss. Were they prepared? A resounding No. Were they a better team this year? A similar answer. The choice of no tackling in training camp proved detrimental when defending the run. As Kansas City moved the ball with ease, sustaining long drives, they asserted their dominance in the second and third quarters, which effectively ended the contest.
The Ravens, who pose that exact threat this week, due to their unrivalled running game, that in 2019 saw them reach a 14-2 record fuelled by their 3,296 rushing yards. An offence which displayed that with aplomb in Houston’s 41-7 loss, in week 11. The Texans now face a distinct possibility of starting 0-2 against team who have improved for a year ago. Houston’s last win against the Ravens was the injury-forced return of Case Keenum, in the penultimate game of DeAndre Johnson’s Texans career, in 2014.
Though the Ravens have show a formula for defeat in the play offs, as fellow AFC South foes defeated them in their own back yard, in the divisional round. That formula was capitalising on turnovers, taking the lead and forcing a running team to chase the game, that resulting in 4th down stops and fundamentally sound defence, whilst running the ball in the trenches.
There are many questions in need of answers, if the Texans are to have a chance of making something of their treacherous start, handed out by the schedule makers. Though the many reservations that existed in the tie last year, still hold validity, the variance being the Texans depleted defensive talent.
Clean football – O’Brien noted in his press conference that teams not beating themselves was a key factor in week 1. A long held belief by Bill but even a hint of self-destruction in penalties and turnovers then the void between the two teams will only be greater than we saw in week 1.
The Run defence – If the defensive unit cannot show substantial improvement against the run, then this tie is over before it starts. Being Fundamentally sound in gap assignment was something the unit, mostly a four man front, were unable to do against the Chiefs. Setting the edge, ensuring contain will be vital, so not to undo any good work instantaneously if a reverse or QB-keeper leaks to the outside.
Jacksons Improvement as a Passer – It appears from Anthony Weaver’s press conference he plans to stack the box and to stop the run. That in theory is the obvious inclination but they will have to be prepared when the Raven set up in Trips/Bunch formations as they use to scheme open easy completions for Lamar and aid his offences rhythm. Greg Roman does a sterling job, based on the run strength at creating wide-open passes for Jackson, so getting creative with rush will be important as delayed rushes can provide more effective that a spy would against a player so elusive in space.
Play With Pace – O’Brien seemed dismissive of the question that his teams week one offence was slow. It lacked urgency and conviction, but its clear that Watsons rhythm is positively correlated to the up-tempo offence.
If there is to be a Devine interventions today, running the ball to set up Play-Action passes against an aggressive defence is an avenue to attack, in a week where play-calls and creativity will be closely scrutinised and will need to show improvements, versus a week ago.
Dealing with Pressure and Hot Routes – something that the Texans have struggled with in the Deshaun Watson Era. The simple concept of breaking off their routes in to the space left by the blitzer or the zone for an easy completion. The only way to stop the relentless pressure, is to show the savy Matrindale that Watson and the offence can’t handle it and pick up easy gains.
Can they bounce back – Losing games back to back isn’t something that Watson has made a habit of in his career to this point, in Houston. This game, following the Chiefs, was likely to be their worst match up of the season. It’s a game that can change the completion of a season instantaneously, however unlikely on paper it would seem.
Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, 4:25 p.m. NRG Stadium