Houston Texans Week 1 Preview: Texans vs Dolphins

During this, our 1st week of the NFL regular season. The Houston Texans host the Miami Dolphins and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill to start the year. During the 2011 campaign the Texans made the playoffs for the 1st time, won a playoff game for the 1st time,  and tallied and franchise record 44 sacks along with setting many other defensive records last year. Now they look to not only build on the franchises first really successful season, but to take what they learned from last year and use the knowledge to win the city it’s first Super Bowl title ever. The Texans are hoping to start off by beating a team that they and many others think they should to start this year off right.

Houston Texans

Texans CB Jonathan Joseph returning a INT during last years game against the Dolphins.

Houston Texans ILB Brian Cushing had this to say about Ryan Tannehill playing in his first NFL game against the very aggresive Texans defense: Everyone kind of has that welcome the NFL moment, and we’re looking to bring it (to Ryan Tannehill). I think that Cushing is not just right about rookies having those “moments” but I believe that the Texans are more than capable of making the rookie QB make mistakes. Last Season when these 2 teams met the Texans won the game 23-13 getting after then QB Chad Henne. The Texans defense allowed only 306 total yards that game and came up with 2 turnovers. 186 of those yards came froWR Brandon Marshall with 79 yards recieving and then rookie RB Daniel Thomas who had 107 yards rushing that game. Tannehill doesn’t have the luxury of Brandon Marshall and though he does have Reggie Bush at RB now, the Texans will actually gameplan against just him. A treatment I’m sure Thomas didn’t get last season. Here’s a quote from Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on RB Reggie Bush: “He’s a 1-on-1 nightmare. If he gets you out in space, he can make a play & make you look bad.”

The Offense looks to get going big against a Dolphins team that they usually are really good against.  Matt Schaub also had a great game going 21-29 with 230 yards and 2 TD’s. I don’t know how many people remember the start Schaub had to last season, but when he got hurt against the Bucs he had 2,479 yards, 15 TD’s and only 6 INT’s. He’s looking to have the same kind of strong start to this season to help the Texans make the push to become an elite team in this league. I’m thinking we see a lot of Schaub’s favorite targets getting some touches early and often. A decent if not a heavy dose of WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels to open up the passing attack this Sunday. Schaub also knows it takes patience and hard work to become a winner in this league from his years with the Falcons. He says this of focus and staying dedicated even while being picked as a favorite to make the Super Bowl:”It was my rookie year, and we went to the NFC Championship Game,” Schaub said. “The next year, we started 6-2 and came out of our bye week and lost pretty handily to Green Bay. Things started spiraling downhill, and we went 2-6 to finish 8-8. We missed the playoffs. I learned that every year is a grind, a marathon, and, as a team, you have to keep one focus. If things start to fracture, it can go south really fast.” The veteran QB will look to be a piece of stability for a offense with a lot of young talent.

Texans TE Owen Daniels after catching TD from Matt Schaub against Miami last year in Week 2 match up.

Last season during the game between these 2 RB Arian Foster reinjured a hamstring injury putting back up Ben Tate in the lineup early in the game. Tate didn’t dissapoint either with 23 carries for 103 yards filling in for the All Pro RB. Foster will look to make a big difference in this game considering he missed last years match up. Look for Foster to get around 20-25 carries on Sunday. Along with Foster getting those carries look for Ben Tate to see 10-15 carries himself. If all goes right the Texans will be handing the ball off a lot to preseverve an early lead.

WR Andre Johnson will be at 100% against the Dolphins this week. Over the course of his career Johnson has feasted while playing against his hometown team. To start his NFL career Johnson played the Dolphins, it only seems fitting he would open up his 10th year in the league against them as well. In 5 career games vs his hometown Miami Dolphins, Andre Johnson has 37 rec, 519 yards & 4 TDs (7.4 rec/103.8 yds per). Johnson has heard analysts and other say all off season he’s getting old and is injury prone now in his 10th proffesional season. He had this to say about the situation:”Everybody’s saying I’m old, probably can’t play no more, injury-prone… People can say what they want. I really don’t care. The real games are finally here. I’m excited about it, and I’ll be ready to go on Sunday.” Johnson will look to silence the critics this weekend with another strong performance on the field similar to last years meeting. He had 7 catches for 93 yards and 1 TD.

Texans WR Andre Johnson celebrating after a TD catch against the Dolphins in Miami.

For the first time since I can remember as a Texans fan,  and a football fan it’s actaully worth mentioning the special teams play for the Texans. Safety Daniel Manning had a good game returning kickoffs with 2 returns for 77 yards and a long of 43 yards. With new return man Trindon Holliday back taking kicks that 43 yards run from last season would be a TD now. There’s no better way to explain it other than the guy is really fast. If he gets out in front of the return team it’s pretty much a done deal. With Holliday also returning punts I’d be watching for him to have at least one solid punt return as well. Holliday had this to say about making the team as the new returner for the 2012 season: “I came back this year wanting to be the best player I could be,” he said. “I wanted to grasp the offense and be a special returner. I just told myself that I’m going to come out every day and work hard and try to be that special guy.Holliday did just that, he had 3 TD returns during a 4 game preseason. He showed some mistakes against the 49ers fumbling twicw as well, but the 49ers have a great special teams coverage unit. And well, the Dolphins just don’t.  If the defense forces the Dophins to punt enough, eventually Holliday should break one out. He’s a special athlete and it’s possible for him to make a big play on every return.