Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 14 — Ravens at Texans
A LiveBall Sports game tape review, this game promised to be a great one, and it lived up to the hype when the Texans rose from the dead to come all the way back and…lose unexpectedly. That’s how you know it was the Texans.
- Matt Schaub played one of the best games of the season by a quarterback. The Texans offense did not play a great game, this was more or less a fantastic individual performance.
- Schaub’s game-clinching interception wasn’t a bad read, or overconfidence, but was a poor decision to try to lead Jacoby Jones to the out in an attempt to get yards after catch. Schaub could have easily thrown the ball to Jones’ back shoulder and got a completion. Schaub never saw CB Josh Wilson, who had impeccable timing to drop coverage and make the play in front of him. It was an aggressive play by Schaub, but with more potential reward than may have originally appeared.
- Schaub didn’t have a picture of the coverage because of pressure on him in the pocket. Against man coverage, what the Ravens had been playing, this is a 25 yard gain. It was zone coverage. Game over.
- It took the Ravens a long time to adjust defensively to what the Texans were killing them with in the second half. The Ravens were in a lot of three man rush concepts late in the game, with 8-man cover two schemes. Fatigue appeared to be a primary factor in both mental lapses in zone coverage by younger players such as CB LaDairius Webb, and physical errors in covering the receivers tightly.
- All issues of the Texans pass defense noted, I’m not sure Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has ever played a better football game in his career. Flacco might actually achieve true franchise QB status before Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. He’s having the better year of the two.
- The Ravens’ receiver hierarchy as is follows: 1) Derrick Mason, 2) Anquan Boldin, 3) TJ Houshmandzadeh. Teams are more afraid of Boldin, and are more willing to leave Mason in favorable situations. This may be what the Ravens offense is trying to get, match-up wise.
- Joe Flacco is starting to move around in the pocket like one of the best, reminiscent of Tom Brady. Flacco’s sacks are almost without exception the cause of pass protection breakdowns where their should not be breakdowns.
- The Ravens have a quarterback protection problem, as the backs and the offensive line don’t always seem to know what the other is doing on any given play.
- The Ravens may also have a personnel issue on the right side with Marshall Yanda and Oniel Cousins. Cousins is a liability in pass protection.
- I’m not sure why the Ravens are struggling to run the football right now: they are still good in power situations. I am guessing this was an emphasis of the Texans defense going into the week: no gashing runs against them.
- The Texans play mostly 8-in-the-box looks. They lack a competent free safety to run this defense and the corners there are very, very young.
- It will make a big difference going forward if the Texans can count on the development of guys like Glover Quin and Kareem Jackson as competent starters. Safeties who will have a job in the NFL in future seasons are not rostered by Houston.
- Houston’s LBs are a weakness. Obviously Demeco Ryans is hurt. Rookie Daryl Sharpton is impressive, but a rookie at the end of the day. There’s no excuses for Brian Cushing at this point. His coverage in this game was poor and he’s making mental errors.
- DT Amobi Okoye had a disappointing day, and he might be one of the players that the Texans jettison in the offseason. I think that would be a mistake: he still makes big plays and his best days are almost certainly in front of him. The Texans are infatuated with Shaun Cody, for reasons that are unclear on film.
- DE Antonio Smith might be outperforming everyone on the Texans defense right now, except Mario Williams. Smith and Williams play at a level close to the level of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, but unlike the Colts, the Texans don’t have a system of defense to plug players into. There’s no scheme on this team, or plan they are building to. Just bad defensive backs and a lot of confusion.
- Terrell Suggs is still one of the best pass rushers in the game. He didn’t do a lot of pass rushing during the defensive meltdown of the Ravens. He must have been working on the coverage.
- The Texans offensive line did not protect Matt Schaub particularly well. Eric Winston is getting beat a lot more often than he did last year. LT Duane Brown struggled against Suggs in this game. The interior line played excellently, however, both opening up rushing lanes and vs. the pass.
- TE Owen Daniels may be recovering from an ACL injury, but his problem extend beyond a gimpy knee. His hands failed him in this game multiple times, and he’s not an elite route runner as he was before the injury. The Texans have found a great TE in Joel Dressen, but it’s going to be tough to work them both into the offense next year. Daniels’ career might actually suffer from too many weapons around him.
- Between Arian Foster, Matt Schaub, and Andre Johnson, the Texans have a very bright future. The problem is on defense, where only Smith and Williams are save, and this team needs to get a lot of internal development in order to contend in 2011.