The Houston Texans are coming to town Sunday, adding the pressure of a divisional game to the Colts week for home contest. While every game is important, the Colts have been burned by losing critical divisional games, especially those against the Texans. This game will be an important one down the stretch for this team.
In preparation for Sunday’s game, we took some time to talk with Brett Kollmann over at Battle Red Blog and asked him a few questions about the Texans leading up to the game. Here’s what he had to say:
Deshaun Watson entered the league last season as one of the most exciting and electrifying players at the quarterback position before going down for the year with an ACL tear. How has he looked in his return so far?
The entire offense, Deshaun included, has looked shaky, but the source of that “shakiness” has definitely been the performance of the offensive line. Or rather...lack of performance. Pass protection has been abysmal, and as a result Watson has taken an unreal number of gigantic hits so far.
You can get on him for throwing a couple of really bad interceptions when he was in desperation mode, yes, but overall the single biggest source of offensive stagnation for these Texans is the fact that they CANNOT keep their quarterback up right to pass the ball. Until they fix that one glaring, overarching issue, this team will struggle to win.
Last year the Texans were without several key pieces on defense including J.J. Watt. How has he looked this season? Do you expect another dominant year from him like he put up in the past?
J.J. finally looked like J.J. again last week against the Giants. He had several near misses on Tom Brady and Blaine Gabbert in weeks one and two, but in week three we at long last saw Watt finish those sacks and put his name on the stat sheet again. He went off for a hat trick against Giants’ right tackle Chad Wheeler, and now sits just one sack off the leader’s pace in the NFL (four sacks).
As for what I expect his overall numbers to be, I do think he can return to those All-Pro numbers as long as he is not constantly double and triple teamed, but the only way that teams won’t constantly double team him is if the Texans are getting more production out of Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. If Watt wants to put up monster numbers, he needs help from those guys too.
The national narrative about the Texans is focused on how bad the offensive line is. Colts fans know as well as anyone that this can sometimes be overblown. Are they really that bad?
You merely adopted bad pass protection in Indy. The Texans were born into it. Molded by it. David Carr didn’t see a clean pocket until he was already a man, but by then it was blinding!
But seriously yes it is that bad. This team couldn’t block a number on their phone let alone a competent pass rusher on third down.
Head coach Bill O’Brien signed a contract extension this offseason, signaling that the front office has faith in him moving forward. From reading a bit on Battle Red Blog, I get the sense that is not necessarily a confidence shared among all fans. What is your read on O’Brien and his outlook with the team long term?
Whether the fans want him gone or not (I personally don’t, or at least not yet), it would take some truly monumental season long screw ups for him to be fired this year. The locker room still loves him, and this team is a lot closer to becoming good than people think.
Literally all they need is just a BIT more time to throw from their offensive line, and they’ll be fine. Once O’Brien sorts that out, or maybe makes a few more adjustments in play calling to compensate, they’ll be fine. I have no idea when the week they turn that switch on will be, but I do expect that switch to be turned on eventually.
How should we expect this Texans offense to attack the Colts defense?
If the first three weeks are anything to go by, they will try to establish the run with Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, and then take shots to Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins down the field. Fuller is the dynamic deep ball specialist that this offense needs in order to function, while Hopkins is the reliable security blanket and red zone threat that *Deshaun* needs in order to function.
If you really want to stop Houston, just load the box to stop the run and set up third downs with long yardages, and then blitz the hell out of Watson on third down. Roll the dice and bet on the fact that you can PROBABLY get to Deshaun before he can hit that open receiver, and you’ll likely be fine. It’s not that Watson can’t handle being blitzed - he definitely can - it’s just that line CAN’T handle it, so you might as well exploit that.