Dec 2, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) is tackled by Houston Texans defensive end Jared Crick (93) during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
The first 2013 meeting in the TNT Rivalry is set to be another great meeting between to two teams, as both are coming off opening week road victories to start of their respective seasons. Both Houston and Tennessee flexed their defensive muscles in their opening games, and despite the odds heavily favoring the Texans in this AFC South divisional match up, the Texans are well aware that any team can be beat on any Sunday. And Tennessee can easily be the team that hands Houston the first loss of the 2013 season.
The Titans defense forced two turnovers, sacked Ben Roethlisberger a total of five times, and limited the Steeler offense to only one touchdown, a garbage time touchdown in the fourth quarter. While Pittsburgh is not as much of an offensive power as they used to be, shutting out a professional team’s offense until the final minute of a match is an impressive feat, regardless of the opponent at hand.
Despite the Titans’ great defensive showing against Pittsburgh’s offense, the Texans’ offense overall is far better than that of the Steelers. Houston’s offensive line can be ranked amongst the best in the league, only allowing Matt Schaub to be sacked 27 times, averaging just over one and a half sacks per game last year, which is much better than what Ben Roethlisberger can say, being sacked a total of 30 times last year.
Sep 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tennessee Titans runnin back Chris Johnson (28) is tackled by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Larry Foote (50) and safety Ryan Clark (25) during the first half at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Although they had a great defensive showing the Titans offense was comically inefficient, harassed all game long by the defense of the Steelers. Despite being relatively easy picking for the Steelers, Tennessee’s offense is more familiar with the defense of the Texans defense, Chris Johnson being the most erratic player on the Titans offense. With Johnson being so inconsistent, he can flop like he did against Pittsburgh, or run over any defense with ease, thus making him the biggest concern for the Texans defensively. Should the Texans contain the running back formerly known as CJ2K, they should have no further problems enforcing their defensive will against the Titans’ offense.
Moving on to the offensive side of the ball for the Texans:
"“Yeah, I think [pass rushing is] a strength of their defense. They can go get the quarterback. They banged (Steelers QB) Ben (Roethlisberger) around last week. They can go get there. I think they do an excellent job of getting after the quarterback and knocking people down. I think it gets back to us running the ball. We’re going to have to run the ball more and better than we did last week. Obviously, there were reasons why we didn’t run it more last week, but it will be very important We made a bunch of third-and-longs last week, third-and-18, third-and-13, to keep the game alive. We can’t put ourselves in that position this week.” – Head Coach Gary Kubiak"
Improving the running game is a vital component to the game-plan of the Texans if they wish to avoid having constant third-and-long situations against the Tennessee defense like they did against San Diego, of which Houston was able to convert on those crucial third down plays, giving themselves a chance to keep themselves in the game and eventually win. On the idea of improving the running attack, Texans running back Arian Foster is willing and ready to get back to getting a full load of rushes, after only getting 57 yards despite 18 carries.
While enforcing the running attack isn’t necessary, it will be a great way for the Texans to wear out the Titans defense. Both Foster and Tate played impressively in against San Diego even though they did not put much with noting on the stat sheet, and with a bolstered focus on the run game, they should be able to perform better statistically than last week.