With the New York Giants traveling to Texas this week to face the 3-1 Houston Texans, I reached out to the folks over at SB Nation's Texans website, Battle Red Blog, for some insights about their team. Tim from BRB swapped questions with me, and his answers are below.
1. After watching the 10-sack performance by the Giants on Sunday against Chicago, are you at all worried about how your offensive line will hold up? I know you have given up 11 sacks thus far.
BRB: Oh, I'm worried. Although the Texans' OL did a tremendous job protecting Matt Schaub last week in Oakland, 11 sacks (and several more hits on top of that) speaks for itself. The Texans will still be without their starting LT, though Rashad Butler has performed admirably in relief of Duane Brown. Eric Winston, Houston's RT, has not been as consistent as he's been in the past, and the interior of the OL can be pushed around. Watching the Giants tee off on Jay Cutler made me laugh, until I realized that the Texans hosted the Giants the following week.
BRB: No one--probably not even his mother--predicted Arian Foster would produce like he has thus far. He looked good in the limited action he had at the end of last year, and he was certainly a force in the preseason, for whatever that's worth. But leading the league in rushing after the first quarter of the season? Never saw it coming.
Foster was on the practice squad for the vast majority of last year and didn't see any game action until the last two games of the 2009 season, primarily because (1) Steve Slaton was phenomenal in his own right in '08 and earned a lot of rope (with which he eventually hanged himself due to fumbles and injury) in '09 and (2) Chris Brown, for reasons completely unknown to Texans fans (totally unfounded speculation centers on him having compromising pictures of Bob McNair or Gary Kubiak), was deemed a suitable Slaton replacement for far, far, far too long. Even thinking about it now, I get angry. Chris Brown made me hate the Cleveland Browns, simply because of his surname and the horror it recalls. Now, though...it's Arian Foster's world, and we're all just living in it.
BRB: Many Texans fans expected that Cushing might be on some sort of a snap count Sunday, given that it's his first real action since the preseason. We appear to have grossly underestimated Cushing's conditioning level, so I would expect him to play as much as he deems himself able. Which is to say, I doubt he misses many, if any, snaps.
In terms of making a difference, he's a monster. While Cushing is not a defensive back and therefore can't directly improve the coverage issues in the secondary, Cushing should make a huge impact on the Texans' defense nonetheless. He's always around the ball, tackles better than almost anyone in the league, and I'd expect (hope?) he gets turned loose on a blitz or two. Brian Cushing has been dreaming of this day for months, and it doesn't appear he's been taking it easy during his time off. Texans fans are expecting a HUGE game from #56 on Sunday.
BRB: Justin Tuck, and it's not even really close. He's a fiend, and he's flexible enough to play some defensive tackle, which would make him even more valuable to the Texans. I'm also intrigued by Kenny Phillips (when healthy) chiefly because the Texans have never really had a free safety, thus leading me to believe the concept is a figment of my imagination. I think seeing an actual FS in a Texans uniform would be akin to seeing a unicorn gallop across a rainbow.
BRB: Ed, I'm a Texans fan. I won't believe the Houston Texans are in the postseason until I see them in a playoff game. Even then, I'll be waiting for Roger Goodell to announce it was all some sort of clerical error. My optimism, as always, is cautious and guarded.