Getting “behind enemy lines” we exchanged questions with Rick Brokaw, the editor of FanSided’s Houston Texans site torotimes.com, to ask him some questions about the upcoming game and the team that he covers.
Rick had a few questions of his own for WDD, check them out at this link, but apparently he thinks our answers exude over confidence in the Saints ability to win the contest.
Truthfully the Texans have faced two bad quarterbacks in Kerry Collins and Chade Henne the last two weeks. For the Texans to think they will come into the Superdome and dominate the Saints is simply asinine to say the least — it’s time for a wake up call.
1) How has Wade Phillips managed to turn around the Texans defense given he had so little time this off-season to install the 3-4 scheme? Would you agree that the Saints offense is the Texans biggest challenge of the year after facing two mediocre quarterbacks in Kerry Collins and Chad Henne the last two weeks?
I believe that Wade Phillips was able to turn our defense around so quickly because we already had most of the puzzle pieces in place before he got here. Players like Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, Antonio Smith, and Brian Cushing were already great players, he just put them into a position to be more effective. The Saints are the biggest challenge for the Texans as it stands right now. Without Peyton Manning the Colts were rather ineffective and Chad Henne was well-contained in our game against Miami. (Henne is so good)
2) Given the level of competition the Texans have never trailed through the first two weeks of the season. How will Houston respond if they get behind the Saints and how will the offense deal with the noise that the Superdome crowd will generate?
The Texans have had to come from behind many times. In fact, last season it seemed as if that was all that we did. If it gets to that point again then I have confidence that Matt Schaub will dig in and do what it takes to put points on the board. Defensively, Phillips will have to adjust according to how the offensive game is going for the Saints. (How will they come from behind this season, not what they did last season)
The noise at the Superdome will be a major factor. Saints fans really know how to make tremendous noise and this can cause false starts, bad play calls, or force a QB to call a time-out. I believe that Schaub will have to use hand signals for many of his plays as the noise could cause some problems for our offense.
3) Arian Foster is questionable to play against the Saints, do you expect him to suit up at all or will he be sidelined? Ben Tate rushed for 95 yards against the Saints 1′s and 2′s in the preseason, do you think he finds similar success against New Orleans 7th ranked rush defense that has yet to surrender more than 80 yards rushing?
I do not believe that we will see Arian Foster suited up this week. After the gamble that he took last week I can safely assume that he learned his lesson. Actually, the Saints relinquished 97 yards to the Green Bay Packers (57 for Starks and 40 for Grant). However, the best RB that the Saints have seen thus far is James Starks who is currently ranked 13th in the league. Going into this game Ben Tate is the 3rd ranked rusher in the league. While I realize that the Saints will be watching for him he will still be capable of breaking off big plays so – yes, I do believe that he will be successful. (Apparently he did not know I was implying 80 yards to one runningback)
4) The Saints offense is likely to spread out the Texans defense like no team has yet done this season. Do you think the Texans have the cornerbacks to match up with the Saints four top receivers in Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem?
The Texans top two cornerbacks right now are Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. Joseph is, by all accounts, the second best CB in the league. I do not see him having any major issues in this game. Jackson has been playing much better this season and, with the support of S Danieal Manning and Glover Quin, has been much more successful at his position.
The key to the Texans’ success in the CB and S positions has been the pressure brought by our front seven. With the pressure that will be coming for Drew Brees the Texans could find more success against the pass than many expect.
5) Running back Darren Sproles has been electric this season — returning kicks, returning punts, rushing, and receiving — which the tape Houston has watched on the Saints verifies. Are you aware of any specific plans the defense has put in place to stop Sproles? What’s the match up that concerns you the most?
Darren Sproles has been a very effective weapon for Drew Brees when it comes to the pass game. He adds another dimension that the Texans will have to be prepared for. His ability to come off of a block and get into an open spot on the field could cause the Texans LBs to back off of pressing the pass on every down. As far as rushing goes, he has only rushed for a total of 24 yards this season so that will not be an area of focus for the Texans. (Sproles is just not an option on the ground?)
It is Sproles’ big play ability on the kick return that is most concerning. He has returned three kicks for 100 yards with a long of 57 yards. Getting your team into good position on the field is key to winning a game, Sproles has been doing that. The Texans will need to shut him down on special teams in order to avoid giving Drew Brees the short field.