When the season began the Texans projected starting defense looked dominating. How things have changed.
Romeo Crennel should be commended. He lost J.J. Watt – No problem. No Kevin Johnson – still no problem. John Simon out – defense stays strong. No Jadeveon Clowney – smoke and mirrors, but still tough. Lose Johnathan Joseph – problem…big problem.
That’s not to suggest that Crennel ran out of answers or J-Jo is the most important cog in the Texans’ defense. It’s simply recognition that the defense was left with too few quality players.
By the 4th quarter of the Green Bay game the Texans were without the best defensive lineman in the NFL, an improving starting linebacker, an emerging star lineman/linebacker hybrid, and a first round draft choice cornerback. That’s 4 key players off an 11 man unit. Losing the 5th starter, Johnathon Joseph, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Two touchdown passes and sayonara.
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The remaining starters played hard and the fill-ins did their best. Unfortunately their best was not good enough. Where does depth come from when 5 starters are out? Maybe Lonnie Ballentine, K.J. Dillon, Kurtis Drummond, Gerald Rivers, Brennan Scarlett, Devon Still, or Tony Washington, Jr. could help…except they are all on injured reserve with J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson. Consider that a team typically carries about 25 defensive players on its roster. The Texans were missing 14 defenders including the 5 starters.
It’s tough when over half your defensive roster is made up of street free agents and practice squad players. If the Texans field an even average defense with this litany of injuries, it is a tribute to the defensive coaching staff. They defense simply is no longer talented enough to dominate no matter how ingenious the scheme. All we can hope is they hold their own.
Clowney and Simon will be back soon. It might be a little longer for Joseph. Unfortunately the Texans’ playoff future is now. As the Texans regressed, largely, but not entirely, due to injuries on both sides of the ball the Colts got stronger. Monday night they embarrassed the Jets.
Even short handed the Texans’ defense won’t get embarrassed, but they don’t have the manpower to dominate the game. It’s time for the offense to step-up. No…its past time for the offense to step-up and for game planning and play calling that force the Colts to defend the whole field. If it doesn’t happen now, it’s not going to happen.
The Texans blew a solid AFC South lead, but they still control their own destiny. A win against the Colts puts them back in the driver’s seat even if the Titans win because it means a 4-0 division record. A loss puts them in trouble…deep, deep trouble.