Today we’re joined by Houston Texans fan and expert, Chance Bond. You can find him on the web, blogging and podcasting at football4footballheads.com, and on Twitter at @Chanceb007. I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with him here and there on Twitter since discovering him over the summer… and in fact he hosted Ashley Petty, aka @billsmafia_babe, on his podcast during the preseason (check our In the News page for the link).
He was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions I had for him about the team.
Ok, let’s not beat around the bush here. Since you’re someone who probably watched every snap he played up until this season, give me your thoughts on Mario Williams — as objectively as you can. Take all the space you need.
When Mario Williams was drafted number one overall in the 2006 NFL Draft Texans fans…….well were not happy. The franchise was coming off a 2-14 season that had Dom Kapers fired and Gary Kubiak hired. Texans fans wanted either Vince Young, who is a Houston native, or Reggie Bush. Mario has proven to be the most productive player from the entire 2006 NFL Draft. In 2007 Williams finished 3rd in the NFL with 14 sacks. The team went 8-8 and looked like the beginning of a contender. 2008,2009 saw Mario get 12, and 9 sacks respectably. He made the Pro-Bowl in both seasons. We LOVED this man! He brought us national attention and gave us a face to our franchise. 2010 and 2011 were hard on Williams, the injury bug hit and the defensive scheme changed. The writing was on the wall for his exit from Houston. Mario never took plays off, he was never soft. He never disrespected the game, the players he played with, or the city. He just doesn’t love the game. He plays football for a living, he doesn’t live to play football. He’s not a vocal leader and won’t command a locker room. He has pride, heart, and work ethic. He just won’t, in the words of Mike Tyson “eat your children”. He won’t leave this game on a shield, he will leave it when he wants.
In 2007, Houston gambled in acquiring Matt Schaub from Atlanta. That gamble has paid off, with Schaub now owning most (if not all) major Texans franchise passing records and locked up through 2016 after signing a four year contract extension in September. Many are saying 2012 will be his best year as a pro. In your opinion, is he “elite?”
T.J. Yates has two things Schaub doesn’t. 1. Playoff experience 2. Playoff win. Matt Schaub won MVP of the Pro-Bowl in 2009. Has thrown for over 4000 yards twice in his career. His yards per catch and yards per attempt are among the highest in NFL history. His career completion percentage is 64.2%.He has lead this franchise to our greatest heights. “Elite” not until he wins a ring.
The national media won’t stop talking about J.J. Watt, and with good reason. But who are some other players contributing on the Texans defense that are maybe being overlooked?
Bulls On Parade…the nickname for the Texans Defense!!! Connor Barwin had 11.5 sacks last season, was offered a contract that would have paid him handsomely. He declined the contract and bet on himself to “earn his money”. Wade Phillips will always produce a SuperStar when he is a Defensive Coordinator. I would have bet my house it would have been Connor Barwin. Brooks Reed is a budding star. Antonio Smith the “Ninja Assassin” is a beast! I would say our overlooked star is Jonathan Joseph. He’s had a slight pull of his groin, which he has been playing through, but without him covering on the corner, there would be no pressure. Also look at Glover Quinn, he is a Pro-Bowl caliber Safety.
From an outsider’s perspective, it seems like the loss of Cushing hasn’t really hurt the defense too much. Is this a correct observation?
Brian Cushing NEVER came off the field……NEVER!!! He was in every Defensive package. Nickel, Dime, even Pennie. He blitzed from both the edge and the middle. Cushing often was matched up on teams Slot Receivers. Heck with a Tight End. He played on the hip of the D-Line, because he didn’t need to create an angle of pursuit. He was faster from sideline to sideline as Titans RB Chris Johnson. The man we call “Cush” will be missed. It now takes 5 players to do what 1 Brian Cushing did. The Texans are deep enough to overcome his injury, but his emotional leadership can’t be replaced!
Houston has a great offense, coupled with a great defense. But what’s the story with special teams, specifically kick coverage? Is it something for Texans fans to worry about? (Humor me, I’m having a hard time finding obvious weaknesses to discuss.)
I will predict that this is Special Teams Coach Joe Marciano’s last season in Houston. Rumor has it that Marciano stood on top of a table during a coaches meeting and demanded Trindon Holliday make this team. Holliday made the team ,but was cut a few weeks later after being ranked 51st in punt return yard average. The Special Teams play is defiantly a concern for players, coaches, media, and fans. Good perception on your part. The Texans are ranked 31st in special teams return yards!
In your opinion, what are the key matchups to watch (personnel-wise) when the Bills visit Reliant Stadium this weekend?
The Texans have seen some of the NFL’s “Elite” backs, but this is our first game against a dual threat in the backfield. The combination of speed and power is impressive. I think the battle in the trenches will be interesting. Can the Bills O-Line stop JJ Watt? Is Connor Barwin going to be the pass rusher we expect. Can Mario Williams generate a pass rush facing an “Elite” Left Tackle in Duane Brown. Can the Bills stop Owen Daniels, and Arian Foster. Stephan Gilmore verse Andre Johnson, that could be a welcome to the NFL type match-up?
The Texans have the 9th ranked Offense in the league. As well as the 6th ranked rushing attack. The Bills have the 31st ranked Defense. The Texans scored 43 points on the Ravens 28th ranked Defense. Both teams are coming off their bye weeks, and should be well rested. I’m not going to add the Texans defense to this……but, well? For the Bills to win this game they will have to get an early lead, create some turnovers, and execute their offensive game plan. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it will be difficult. A win in Houston would put the league on notice for sure!! Nobody “circles the wagons” like the Buffalo Bills….I will be at the game!