1. It seems to me a team like the Texans simply needed a stabilizing presence at the quarterback position and Ryan Fitzpatrick is that type of quarterback. Has that been the feeling around those parts with regard to Fitz? How far do you think he can take the Texans?
Fitz has been okay, but it is quite obvious that he is not the long term answer. The "savior of the franchise" role seems to be laid out at Ryan Mallett's feet, and I'm willing to bet that Bill O'Brien intends for Mallett to take this team over sooner rather than later. He is a far superior physical talent, and if his preseason tape is anything to go by, a better football brain as well ( http://www.battleredblog.com/2014/9/3/6100837/the-film-room-ryan-mallett-houston-we-have-a-monster ). As for how far this team can go with Fitzpatrick at the helm before Mallett eventually takes over, I would put the club in contention for a wild card spot. They may not have an elite quarterback, but few teams possess as much top to bottom talent in the league as the Texans. If the run game stays on point and the defense lives up to expectations, this team can do some damage late in the year.
2. Is everyone over there disappointed they don't get to face Schaub? Or are they more excited to see David Carr's little brother take the field against them?
The draft aficionado in me is more excited to see Carr than Schaub. Texans fans already know what Schaub is - we endured it all last season. Carr, however, provides some promise and excitement that no other quarterback on the Oakland roster can match. I had my doubts when the Raiders took Carr at the top of the second round, but I will admit that he has had some very impressive moments in his young career. Make no mistake, the kid can sling it. Whether he can still sling it when J.J. Watt is constantly burrowing into his rib cage, however, is something that remains to be seen.
3. That defense in Houston was very highly ranked, although it seemed like it could have been more a factor of the inept offense - a similar situation to the 2006 Raiders. But that opening game against the Redskins... Take me through what's going on with the defense.
Romeo Crennel operates a classic bend-but-don't-break scheme that showed up big against the Redskins. Two Washington fumbles inside the ten yard line took a lot of points off the board when the Texans needed it most, and if all goes to plan that same philosophy will come through against the Raiders. I would not be surprised if Oakland racks up a lot of yards against Crennel's relatively conservative Cover-2 zone base, but they may not get a lot of points.
4. How big of a loss is Jadeveon Clowney?
Monumental. Believe it or not, Clowney was actually looking better than advertised this preseason. His physical presence is something that simply cannot be replaced. If I were the Raiders offensive line coach, I would consider myself very lucky that my guys did not have to worry about blocking both Clowney and J.J. Watt at the same time.
5. What about this Texans team is largely misconceived and could surprise some people?
The run game. This might be the best team of blockers that Arian Foster has ever had, which should scare a lot of defensive coordinators around the league. If #23 is healthy and has creases to work with, look out. Foster's battles this weekend with Sio Moore and Khalil Mack should be supremely entertaining.
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