Join Date: May 2004
FS:Texans' porous defense raises slew of questions
It was hoped to be a corner-turning afternoon for the Texans. The Cincinnati Bengals were winless and hapless offensively, but the 35-6 spanking the Texans administered Oct. 26 seemed to signal the defense had found some footing.
The Bengals accumulated just 253 yards and managed only two field goals. But a look back at the particulars of the game reveals troubling signs of what was to come for the Texans, who have since dropped three in a row, surrendering 102 points and close to 1,200 yards to Minnesota, Baltimore and Indianapolis combined.
Cincinnati's paltry total-offense figure might have been more a function of how the Texans controlled the ball for 35-plus minutes. And, no matter how inept the Bengals might be at moving the chains - they rank last in the NFL - they converted more than half of their third downs.
Colts expose weakness
In that crucial category, things have gone from bad to worse for Richard Smith's struggling defense. In the second half Sunday, the Colts went five-for-six while scoring on each of their four meaningful possessions, thus ensuring the Texans would fall to 3-7 in a season that began with playoff aspirations.
"I think, obviously, we've got to find some more ways to be effective, to get better," coach Gary Kubiak said. "I don't think you've ever emptied yourself out. We still got a lot of Football left to play."
The most shrill Texans fans are screaming for defensive coordinator Smith's head, but Kubiak sounds resolved to not make major changes in his staff or personnel before the offseason.
"We have the right people doing it," he said. "We just have to keep battling and do it better."
There's rumored to be grumbling among the players about Smith's conservative, close-to-the-vest approach, which stifles the derring-do instincts needed to force the issue, but no one has confirmed such discord, at least for the record. The coaches are thought to believe the Texans lack the manpower - especially in the secondary - to play closer to the edge.
"I don't think we're more conservative or aggressive than any other team," outside linebacker Kevin Bentley said. "It comes down to how well you play the techniques and fundamentals of whatever scheme you're in. I don't think we got beat last week because of lack of effort or the wrong calls. We got beat on some technique things that shouldn't have happened."
For the moment, the blame game is a debate over semantics.
Cornerback Dunta Robinson passed through the locker room long enough Monday to say of the Indianapolis collapse: "We didn't play well, especially in the second half. (There were) a lot of mistakes, a lot of blown assignments ? things that we shouldn't be doing, things that we do over and over in practice and it's still going on."
Told of Robinson's assessment, Kubiak said: "Well, I don't think that's right. I would disagree with him there. I think there are some technique issues. There's a difference in not knowing what you're doing and knowing what you're doing and not performing the technique.
"Whether it's a coverage technique or a stunt technique, we did have some technique issues in the game that we did right during the week, (then) did not do right during the game."
Rumblings in the ranks
Robinson, set to reclaim his starting job at right corner in Cleveland on Sunday, has come the closest to calling anyone out for the disintegrating situation, suggesting Thursday that "certain things that have got to be taken care of will be taken care of" over the coming offseason. Pressed to elaborate, he declined.
"You're going to make mistakes in the game as players," Kubiak said. "But the key is, do you make a few plays that make up for them? Do you have five or six bad plays on defense, or do you knock a ball out in the pocket or get an interception or get a fumble? That makes up for a lot of things."