Well, it's a key game on Sunday for both the St. Louis Rams and the Houston Texans. Win, and a 3-3 record still offers hope. For the Texans, that would mean stemming a 3-game losing streak. For the Rams, it would be a (gasp) small, but real, winning streak that could develop some key momentum for a young team looking to put the early season sloppiness behind them.
Lose, though, and you're 2-4. Houston would have four straight losses and the alarm bells would be going off across southeastern Texas. Should the Rams lose, it's going to make things look awfully bleak. So uh...let's not do that.
To fill us in on their side of things, I linked up with Brett Kollman from Battle Red Blog, SB Nation's community for fans of the Houston Texans.
So the injury report looks pretty thick for you guys right now. Outside of the Owen Daniels injury, which injuries are you most worried will have the biggest impact moving forward?
I would say the biggest injury right now would be Brandon Brooks at right guard, who in his second season has proven himself to be a critical component to both the run and pass game. The offensive line will have a hell of a time trying to move Michael Brockers, who will see plenty of snaps in the right A gap, off the ball without Brooks' massive frame on the line of scrimmage. In addition, Matt Schaub is terrible at evading pressure as it is, and without Brooks to keep the middle of the pocket clean it could be a long day for the Texans offense.
Onto the offense. I talked to Mbw987 on Turf Show Radio about this, but it's probably worth getting a second opinion. Just what the hell's going on with Matt Schaub right now?
I really don't know. Maybe he is shell shocked, maybe he is injured, maybe his arm just isn't what it used to be and he can't make any strong throws anymore. Whatever it is, he's playing absolutely horrible. And you know what the worst part is? Neither T.J. Yates or Case Keenum is any better. Come hell or high water, we're stuck with Schaub until he fixes himself...if that even happens.
Defensively, where should the Rams look to attack? Does Ed Reed look like he can play until he's 70? (Kidding, but only just)
Slot corner is really the only true weakness on the Texans defense. The defensive line is one of the best in the league with defensive ends J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith leading the charge, while the linebacker corps featuring Brian Cushing, Whitney Mercilus, and Brooks Reed is no picnic to face either. Both starting corners, Jonathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson, are Pro Bowl caliber while Danieal Manning is a solid strong safety in both pass coverage and run support.
Brice McCain as the nickel corner, however, is terrible. Tavon Austin has had a relatively "slow" start to his NFL career considering how high he was drafted, but if there was any slot corner in the league that could give Austin his "get right" game, it would be Brice McCain. Sam Bradford would do well to feed his newest toy early and often. It's only a matter of time before McCain misses a tackle or trips over himself and lets Austin break loose for a big gain.
Would the fan base say the team has been poorly coached so far? The Rams have been heavily penalized (especially on punt returns), and the playcalling has left our side both perplexed and often upset. Are you on that side of the satisfaction-o-meter or is the base still behind Kubiak and staff?
Kubiak and company are under more pressure than ever by the fan base. Play calling on offense has been predictable, special teams continues to be a giant weakness, and the defense will always find a way to give up one long touchdown drive a game despite playing lights out 98% of the time. Kubiak's stubbornness to not fire Joe Marciano (special teams coordinator), not call anything other than draws on third and long, and not inject any creativity into the offense has so far doomed arguably the most talented team in the league to a life of mediocrity. The Texans are literally the 2010 Chargers right now, and it sucks.
Given the relative lack of franchise history, this has been the golden era for early Texans teams. How do you gauge the dozen-year arc? Does it feel like more of a success or a struggle at this point?
Considering the cellar that this franchise has climbed out of over the last two seasons I would say that the team is in a pretty good spot right now on the "suck" to "not suck" scale, and yet at the same time I find myself more disappointed than ever. It's one thing to know your team is bad, see them be bad on the field, and then be frustrated at not having any other reality than being a fan of a bad team. It's an entirely different level of hurt to watch them knock on the door of greatness for two years in a row only to show up to their "Okay, for real this time" season looking like a Division II club. It's like having a kid get straight A's in college grow up to be an assistant manager at McDonald's. We're not mad, we're just disappointed.
Thanks to Brett to for taking the time to answer these.