For this week's FGQ, I spoke with, Brett Kollmann, who, along with enjoying coupling letters in his name, writes for Battle Red Blog, covering all things Houston Texans. He gave me some insight into the Texans as only someone who writes about them on a daily basis could.
Me: For a while there it seemed like Matt Schaub was the answer in Houston. Is Case Keenum the answer? And what does he bring that Schaub didn't?
Brett: The jury is still out on Keenum, but he's certainly been fun to watch these last few weeks. Keenum is the kind of quarterback who will throw a slowly arcing rainbow across his body into double coverage while running backwards and STILL have it be completed, but as of yet that extraordinary luck has only been with him for about one half of every game. I expect Keenum to start fast this Sunday against the Raiders (and probably have some insanely lucky throws to boot), but what I'm really interested in is to see him perform at a high level in the second half. If he can do that, then we may be a bit closer to our answer.
How much of a loss to the offense is Arian Foster? What can we expect in his absence?
Honestly, Ben Tate was running better than Foster even before his season ending back injury. I don't know if it's age, poor blocking, extra attention, physical ailments, diet, or something else, but Foster simply has not produced explosive plays in the last two seasons like he did early on in his career. I would expect that Tate, who is running for a new contract while toughing out broken ribs, is going to give every last ounce of effort he has this Sunday. Injured or not, he can still do a lot of damage.
I haven't heard as much about JJ Watt this season as last season. Is he having a down year or is his awesomeness just old hat by now so no one's talking about it?
I think the lack of media attention is a byproduct of being on a "bad team". I'm sure Raider fans can relate to their Pro Bowl caliber players being consistently ignored or overlooked simply because their team's record was sub-par (cough cough Jared Veldheer). Hell, even Houstonians were used to this annual occurrence until just a few seasons ago. Sadly, the Texans have returned to the darkness from whence we came....sigh.
A few years back, the Raiders offense was so bad that once teams scored a couple touchdowns, they knew they could sit on the ball and ride out the victory. This made their defense look better than it was and they finished with the number two ranked defense and a 2-14 record. You see that type of situation going on in Houston?
The Texans' defensive ranking is hugely inflated by the fact that special teams and the Matt Schaub offense gave opposing teams short fields so often that they did not have to put up big yardage totals to score 20+ points. Sure there is ons of talent on that side of the ball, but as long as nickel corner Brice McCain is still employed, the Raiders will have a shot to get in the end zone...a lot. In addition, Brian Cushing is done for the year with a knee injury sustained in week 7 against the Chiefs. The Texans defense is remarkably less effective without their general on the field, so anything is possible.
What Texans player(s) might we not know about with whom we should become more familiar?
DeAndre Hopkins. Watching him play has made me unbelievably excited for the next decade of Texans football. The way he runs routes, snags every ball remotely near him, and conducts himself both on and off the field is very exciting. I have no idea how he dropped to the bottom of the first round, but I'm glad he did.