With Injury, Everything Changes


Oct 8, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing (56) walks off the field after being injured during the first half at MetLIfe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Every team has it’s star players, and those players are game changers. On offense, the quarterback position is heralded as the most valued position as it requires the highest skill set of any. Finding a solid, let alone a great one, is even harder. As long as you have a franchise quarterback, you can build your team around him and increase your chances to win. Losing him for any amount of time, especially shows the value of this position. Defense on the other hand, is different.

Having one great player on defense is great, but they alone can’t win you games. Defense is about the chemistry and teamwork of 11 men, working as a unit to stop opposing offenses. While the above mentioned pertains to the offense as well, it matters to the defense even more.

On offense, mistakes can be made, but as long as the ball carriers holds on to the ball, the offense has another down in most scenarios. On defense however, their is less room for error, as one missed tackle, one missed assignment or one missed read, can lead to a touchdown. Defenses also don’t have the luxury of knowing the snap count or knowing the play. While it is impossible to know what kind of route a receiver is running or which hole a running back will hit off the line, it has been an art for some quarterbacks, such as Peyton Manning, to dissect defenses and expose their weaknesses. While defenses are evolving and becoming more complex, they still fail in comparison to most offensive systems.

Dec 10, 2012; Foxborough, MA USA; Houston Texans linebacker Connor Barwin (98) during the third quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Texans are facing injuries like any other team, and have been hit mostly on defense. The biggest hits by far is losing inside linebacker Brian Cushing and Brice McCain for the year, which downgrades those positions immensely. Yet players like outside linebacker Brooks Reed and defense back Alan Ball, still have a chance to come back when they are deemed healthy enough to play. Through all of these players injuries, it has been easier for offenses to expose weaknesses. It has also caused players, such as outside linebacker Connor Barwin to have a down year. With better players behind him, it was easier for him to rush the passer the year before. This year, he is easier to game plan against as the players around him aren’t up to par with the players they replaced. It also causes a change in role as they might have Barwin drop in coverage rather than pass rush in order to compensate. The Texans might also switch packages and take him off the field all together depending on the scenario.

The Texans have been injured, they’ve been bashed by the media and they’ve exploited in the past few weeks. Last weeks loss caused concern, but a win this week will show that the Texans still have the fight and the ability to overcome their losses and pull out a win.

– Antonio Furgiuele