Texans morning huddle: Remembering fundamentals, Worthy to practice squad


Friday is here Texans fans, one more day of work until we can all enjoy the weekend and get ready for some Houston Texans football! Let’s get through this day by starting it out right, with news about the Texans! Today’s stories include a look at the defense returning to the basics and a preview to the game this Sunday.

Back to basics for Texans defense – by Deepi Sidhu, HoustonTexans.com

"The Texans defense is getting back to basics this week.“Until we become more disciplined and do our job first, and that’s what we’ve been working on this week,” defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said Thursday. “We went back to basics and tried to get them to understand that it’s a team deal, everybody has a responsibility and you have to take care of your responsibility and if you do that, then you can go help out.”The Texans defense are holding opponents to a third-down conversion rate of just 30.77 percent, the second-lowest in the NFL behind Denver (29.69), but teams are still averaging 114.2 yards rushing per game and 225.6 yards passing against Houston.“Well you know what, they’re just out playing us a lot of times,” Crennel said. “Then sometimes our guys are guessing and trying to make a play, which opens up a seam. We’ve talked to them about – it’s a team defensive thing. Everybody has to do their job before they try to help out. Even though you talk about it and remind them, but sometimes in the course of the game, that adrenaline is flowing. They try to make a play which opens up seams.”"

NFL Preview: Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars – CBS Sports

"There aren’t many job titles in the NFL more unstable than that of Houston Texans starting quarterback with coach Bill O’Brien consistently rotating Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.Hoyer did enough last week to convince O’Brien he’s – for now – the best man for the gig and will get the start Sunday in Jacksonville.The Jaguars hope Blake Bortles’ shoulder injury will heal in time for him to be fully healthy under center as they look to snap a three-game skid in the AFC South battle of 1-4 clubs.Hoyer won the Texans’ starting job out of camp, then was removed in favor of Mallett in a season-opening loss to Kansas City. Mallett has started the last four, but he was benched for Hoyer in each of the last two.O’Brien has decided to go back to Hoyer, who finished 24 of 31 for 312 yards and threw two touchdowns for the second straight week in Houston’s 27-20 loss to Indianapolis on Oct. 8.Hoyer has completed 62.1 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and two picks, while Mallett has a 53.1 completion percentage with three TDs and four interceptions.”It’s 11 one-game seasons (remaining), so (Hoyer’s) the starter for Jacksonville,” O’Brien said. ”I think over the last two games he’s gone in there with a really good attitude, with a calmness about him, with really good mechanics. Has he been perfect? No. But I think that … overall he’s played pretty well.”The Jaguars don’t have a quarterback controversy, but there might be some concern after Bortles suffered a Grade 1 AC joint sprain in his throwing shoulder during Sunday’s 38-31 loss at Tampa Bay.Bortles played through the injury and threw for a season-best 303 yards and career-high four touchdowns despite being sacked a season-high six times. He said Wednesday that his shoulder feels “fine” and that he expects to be ready to face Houston.Jacksonville lost both meetings with the Texans last season as Bortles completed 47.2 percent of his passes while being sacked nine times. J.J. Watt had three sacks in each contest and has 11 1/2 in eight career games against the Jaguars.Bortles, though, comes into this one looking to continue to establish a growing connection with two of his fellow second-year teammates.Allen Robinson caught two TD passes last week and has hauled in four on the season. Allen Hurns finished with a career-high 116 yards for the second straight game and had a touchdown reception for the third consecutive week.Jacksonville has lost three straight, though, with the last two coming by a combined 10 points. The usually stout Jaguars run defense allowed a season-worst 183 yards on the ground to Tampa Bay with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny out because of a high ankle sprain.Coach Gus Bradley said he expects Posluszny to play this week. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who has been nursing a knee injury, hopes to make his season debut after participating in practice Wednesday.”I definitely think there needs to be more of a sense of urgency,” guard Zane Beadles said. ”It’s up to everybody on this team to buy into that and realize there has to be a more sense of urgency. That has to come from us. It can’t just come from Gus.”"

J.J. Watt has pounded the Jaguars and QB Blake Bortles – by Mike DiRocco, ESPN

"J.J. Watt has feasted on the Jacksonville Jaguars and quarterback Blake Bortles.Watt has recorded more sacks against the Jaguars in his career than all but one team he has faced and he has sacked Bortles six times in two meetings, which makes Bortles the second-most sacked QB of Watt’s career.That doesn’t bode well for Sunday’s matchup with Houston. Watt can line up anywhere, but he has spent the majority of the time this season lined up on the left side of the defensive formation. That means he’ll be going against rookie right guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell, who is nursing a sore knee.“He’s definitely a guy you need to keep an eye on the entire game,” left tackle Luke Joeckel said. “Last year we did some good things but he did make plays. We can’t give up the sacks that he got us against us [in 2014]. That’s one of the things we definitely need to fix.”Watt has 11.5 sacks in eight games against the Jaguars, which is a half sack shy of the 12 he has in eight meetings with Tennessee. He also has sacked Bortles six times, all last season. The only quarterback Watt has sacked more times is Andrew Luck (8.0) — but that total is over six games.The Jaguars actually felt like they did a good job against Watt in 2014, and they did at times. The player that had the most success against Watt was right guard Brandon Linder, who was the Jaguars’ best offensive lineman as a rookie. Linder is out for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, so if Watt lines up on the left side of the defensive formation he’ll be facing Cann and Parnell, who didn’t practice on Wednesday because of a sore knee."

Texans Learning The Hard Way How Much Close Games Matter – by Sam McPherson, CBS Houston

"With the 27-20 loss last week to the Indianapolis Colts, the Houston Texans exemplified a stark contrast between winning and losing by close margins. In the last four seasons, the Colts are 22-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less. In the last three years, the Texans are 3-17 in such games. That’s why Indianapolis is shooting for a fourth straight playoff spot, while Houston is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012. In the NFL, you live and die by your record in close games.In 2013, the Texans went 2-9 in games decided by a TD or less, on their way to a terrible 2-14 record and the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Last year, despite rebounding to a 9-7 mark, Houston still posted a 1-5 record in these close games—and missed the postseason. This year, the Texans are already 0-3 in contests with a seven-point or less margin, and at 1-4, they’re looking like a long shot to make the playoffs. Not every close game is created equal, but exactly what does make the difference between Indy’s 22-4 mark and Houston’s 3-17 mark?Quarterback PlayYes, the Colts have Andrew Luck, although they beat the Texans with Matt Hasselbeck at QB nonetheless. When Houston’s offense was led by Matt Schaub in 2012, the Texans went 6-0 in close games, including the playoffs, while posting a 12-4 record and winning the AFC South division. In 2011, using three different starting QBs, Houston went 4-5 in close games—still enough to get the team to 10-6 and an AFC South division title. Even the difference between the close-game records of 2011 and 2013-15 is enough to get a team to the playoffs.You don’t need Indianapolis’ kind of “luck;” you just need to break even (or close to it) in the tight ones. However, the Texans’ unstable QB play for the past three seasons has created challenges in even doing that. Schaub’s game collapsed in 2013, and Case Keenum was 0-8 as a starter that season. Last season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was good enough to post a 95.3 QB rating, but only a 6-6 record as a starter. Ryan Mallett (1-1) and Keenum (2-0) started the other four games in 2014.QB quality is a start to posting good records in close games, but it’s not everything. However, it might help Houston if Head Coach Bill O’Brien could decide on one QB for the rest of the season. Stability does matter here, so whether it’s Mallett or Brian Hoyer, the Texans need a permanent quarterback to ride with this year—for better or for worse."

Next: Houston Texans: Time for some old school football