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Old 10-20-2011   #1
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Default Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

The Washington Post reports a pretty good summary of what seems to be a chronic team problem.

Quote:
Texans dealing with late-game problems, with bad 4th quarters leading to consecutive losses


HOUSTON — The Houston Texans are starting games better than they did last season. They’re still stalling at the end, though, and bad fourth quarters have cost them in two consecutive losses.

The Texans (3-3) say there’s no magic formula to curing that problem. They just have to execute when it matters most, starting with Sunday’s pivotal AFC South game against the Tennessee Titans (3-2).

“Yeah, we’re thinking about it,” tight end Joel Dreessen said. “When you’re sitting there halfway through the third quarter, it don’t matter who’s on the field, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, you have a chance to sincerely impact that game with those plays. Every play you play in the NFL is a game-winning play, whether it’s the first quarter or fourth quarter. In those situations, we need to be better.”

Houston has led in the second half of all six games.

Against Oakland two weeks ago, Houston was up 17-15 after three quarters, stalled offensively and lost 25-20. Last week in Baltimore, Houston took a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, mustered only three first downs the rest of the way and lost 29-14.

“Obviously you need to make plays all game,” receiver Kevin Walter said, “but there’s times in the game you have to go out there and you realize this is the situation — we got to get it done here or if you don’t get it done, it might not work out as well as you wanted it to.

“Like last week in the third quarter, they (the Ravens) made the plays when it counted and we didn’t,” he said. “That’s the difference between winning and losing a ballgame. If we get over that hump, which I know we can, it’s going to be a great year.”

Last season, Houston was tied or held the lead in the final quarter in six of its last seven losses. Coach Gary Kubiak was encouraged in September when the Texans controlled the fourth quarter in a 23-13 win at Miami.

But the following week, Houston led 26-17 in New Orleans with 12 minutes left then failed to gain a first down on two consecutive series. The defense collapsed, too, and the Saints rallied for a 40-33 victory.

“It comes down to all of us. We’re a team,” Kubiak said. “It’s my job as a coach to figure out what a player does best and get him in the best position to be successful. It’s his job to go out on the field and do it, but we’re all involved. Whether its success or failure, we’re all involved in what’s going on. We’ve got to stick together and figure out a way to do it.”

Kubiak said the late-game breakdowns are both mental and physical. He noticed late in Sunday’s loss that what the players practiced last week wasn’t translating to the field.

“That’s something you’re always trying to be 100 percent on,” Kubiak said. “Probably about half the things that happen in a game don’t happen here during the week, and players have got to react. But when you do work on something that you feel like you’re right on top of, and you do get it and you don’t handle it, it’s bothersome.

“Sometimes, you get away with making those mistakes,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not getting away with them, especially these last two weeks. We’ve got to keep plugging to make sure they don’t happen.”

The Texans have outscored their opponents 47-13 in the first quarter, then been outscored 89-44 in the second half. Defensive end Antonio Smith says the Texans need to simply find a way to sustain their energy level from start to finish, as they did in a 17-10 win over Pittsburgh on Oct. 2.

“When a game is on the line and it’s close like that, you’ve got to find that little extra something to pull it out,” Smith said. “At the same time of doing that, that’s when you have to be at your sharpest. You can’t make mistakes, you can’t get MAs (missed assignments) during those times, when it gets haywire.

“At the end of the game, that’s when you have to find that little extra oomph, and still have the focus to pull it out.”

Notes: WR Andre Johnson (right hamstring) and FB James Casey (chest muscle) did not practice Thursday. Kubiak said he wants to see Johnson practice before he decides if the star receiver will be available Sunday. ... QB Matt Schaub went through his normal Thursday routine. Schaub came out of the Oakland game with a sore shoulder and sustained a chest bruise in Baltimore on Sunday. Kubiak said Schaub will start on Sunday, but backup Matt Leinart has been getting more repetitions in practice.
Schaub's injuries aren't going to help his completion percentage.
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Old 10-20-2011   #2
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Default Re: Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

This same problem has been going on for years and it's not like the team has gotten any worse, at some point you got to start pointing fingers at the coaching staff.
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Old 10-22-2011   #3
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Default Re: Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

Quote:
Texans look for reversal of fourth-quarter fortunes
By DALE ROBERTSON, Copyright 2011 Houston Chronicle
Updated 11:01 p.m., Friday, October 21, 2011

New season, new rut.

Last year the Texans almost always finished strong - but rarely strong enough to overcome their dreadful starts. This year the pattern has reversed itself. They've largely been first-quarter lions and fourth-quarter lambs.

"It's always something," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Right now, (the fourth quarter) is the problem. We're great early, but we've got to play better in the fourth quarter."

And playing better means making plays that are game-changers.

"We haven't finished, that's obvious," right tackle Eric Winston said. "It's on everybody. I haven't made the blocks. It touches everything. The big thing is keeping consistency throughout the game, and making our breaks."

The Texans (3-3) have lost three of their past four games despite leading each in the second half. The Saints, Raiders and Ravens have outscored them by a combined 29 points over the final 15 minutes.


Even in the games they've won, the Texans have barely broken even, scoring 14 points to 13 by the Colts, Dolphins and Steelers collectively. Given that neither Indianapolis nor Miami has yet to win, that's a little scary, too, although it should be noted the Texans didn't need to force the issue in the fourth quarter against either.

Conditioning? Confidence? Concentration?

These kinds of problems are never easily pinpointed, although nobody in the Texans camp thinks a lack of fitness has anything to do with the late fades.

After all, how could a team go through training camp in the kind of heat Houston experienced this summer and not have staying power?


"We just need to execute better," Kubiak said. "I think we've got a very well-conditioned football team."

And, still, a self-assured one.

"Confidence," Winston said, "isn't a problem."

Wearing down

Still, Baltimore seemed to grind down the Texans as Sunday's game wore on, and the visitors took on a dispirited countenance as a 14-13 Texans third-quarter lead evaporated into a 29-14 loss.

After Matt Schaub's 32-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with about 8˝ minutes remaining in the third period, the Ravens immediately countered with a field goal to get back in front and the Texans were forced to punt on their next three possessions, never again advancing beyond Baltimore's 38-yard line.

"As a team, we didn't play as well as we could play from about three minutes on in the third quarter," Kubiak said. "But we go back and battle again this week.

"I don't know which quarter is going to be the most important quarter, but we're going to try to get after them (start to finish)."

All about timing

Receiver Kevin Walter reiterated Winston's point about how the Texans need an infusion of timely heroics, either early or late.

"Obviously, you need to make plays all (through the) game," he said, "but there are times in the game you have to go out there and you realize this is the situation.
We got to get it done here or if you don't get it done, it might not work out as well as you wanted it too. I think we all realize that.

"Last week they made the plays when it counted and we didn't. That's the difference between winning and losing a ballgame. If we get over that hump, which I know we can, it's going to be a great year."

Given the team's history, the failures do tend to have a cumulative effect, tight end Joel Dreessen said.

"Yeah, we're thinking about it," he said. "In those (game-changing) situations, whether it's offense, defense or special teams, we have to do better."
We've been asking ourselves these questions every year.........and every year we get those same answers that do not make a winner.

Certainly, execution has been part of the problem. But keep in mind execution can be very dependent on PROPER conditioning.

And as far as the "conditioning" factor not being a problem.......Practicing in extreme heat and humidity does not in itself lead to improved conditioning.......especially when you play virtually all you games indoors or in cooler outdoor conditions. The Texans are making this type of practice of inordinate importance in achieving "conditioning."

The conditioning factor in hot and humid environments depends mostly in proper hydration. And the usual hydration techniques are very inefficient in bringing about the change that really brings about maximum performance.........i.e., the change of bringing down the CORE BODY TEMPERATURE.

The CORE BODY TEMPERATURE is the temperature in the part of the body containing the vital organs (the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys). The core temperature is measured internally (eg., in the rectum or oesophagus) and it usually remains within a narrow range, between 36.5 and 37.5°C. This is the temperature at which the majority of the chemical reactions in the body work most efficiently. During exercise, heat is generated and the muscle temperature may rise to 39 or even 40°C. Skeletal muscle functions best at 38.5°C.

The CORE BODY TEMPERATURE is the temperature in the part of the body containing the vital organs (the brain, heart, lungs, and kidneys). The core temperature is measured internally (e.g. in the rectum or esophagus) and it usually remains within a narrow range, between 36.5 and 37.5°C. This is the temperature at which the majority of the chemical reactions in the body work most efficiently. During exercise, heat is generated and the muscle temperature may rise to 39 or even 40°C. Skeletal muscle functions best at 38.5°C.

For those that are interested in an excellent review of some of the facts concerning core body temperature and its dramatic effect on athlete performance:

http://corecool.co.uk/science.htm


This technique has been used by some NFL and college football teams for years (e.g. the Miami Hurricanes since 1993).

http://corecool.co.uk/in_brief.htm

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Old 10-22-2011   #4
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Default Re: Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

Gator-aid. Scientifically proven to...

Seriously, though, this problem with not performing well in 4th qtrs. scares me, because it's generally synonymous with bad teams getting their butts kicked by superior talent that has been pacing itself the first 3 qtrs. That's what superior opponents are tempted to do: dog it and only perform hard when necessary to stay in the game, then kick your @$$ in the 4th qtr.
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Old 10-22-2011   #5
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Default Re: Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

I think the entire team should be barred from looking at the scoreboard in the second half. It 'feels' as if they're getting psyched, scared to fall for the opponents comeback, resulting in just that happening.

Playcalling & playing, never take the foot off the throttle, play as if you're behind and your life depends on a W. Once you're defensive & trying to play safe (cute) shit happens.

All out, all day
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Old 10-22-2011   #6
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Default Re: Bad 4th Quarters, Bad Outcomes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloy View Post
I think the entire team should be barred from looking at the scoreboard in the second half. It 'feels' as if they're getting psyched, scared to fall for the opponents comeback, resulting in just that happening.

Playcalling & playing, never take the foot off the throttle, play as if you're behind and your life depends on a W. Once you're defensive & trying to play safe (cute) shit happens.

All out, all day
Being predictable and players not making plays kills them . You can be predictable if you are better ( see Cowboys of the 90's with Tuinea , Allen , Stepnowski , Newton , Williams ) and get 5 yards a pop rushing .
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