Texans-Ravens: Five Things to Watch
The statement is a classic example of how the ebb and flow of a season can recalibrate expectations. The Texans are set up to be 3-3 after this Sunday (7-1/2 point underdog traveling to Baltimore), and after getting off to a 3-1 start, including a "hey, this feels like real football!" win over the Steelers, 3-3 would probably feel like a bit of a letdown.
But that's exactly what the Texans are staring at this weekend as they head to Baltimore without their most talented players on each side of the ball (Andre Johnson, Mario Williams). Five quick things to keep an eye on Sunday:
5. Brooks Reed and his "high motor"
NFL draft types have all sorts of cool little dork phrases for telling us guys are good players. Fluid hips, soft hands, quick feet. The phrase that gets attached to Brooks Reed is "high motor," basically meaning that he goes a thousand miles an hour all of the time. The Texans will need every bit of that this weekend in their first full game without Mario Williams. I will say this -- of all the Texans' Pro Bowl- or near-Pro Bowl-caliber players on defense, while Mario may be the most physically gifted, I suspect there is the shortest dropoff from Mario to whoever is behind Mario (in this case, Reed) compared to, say, Johnathan Joseph, Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans, Antonio Smith or Danieal Manning.
4. Jacoby Jones having an actual "win" that we can see
Gary Kubiak on Jones's performance against the Raiders: "He played a lot of plays, 70-plus plays him and Kevin (Walter). As I said, we got pressured a lot so a lot of things we were doing, we were having to protect and let he and Kevin go one-on-one with their secondary. He had some wins where we didn't protect as well or didn't get him the ball as well and sometimes we protected well and we didn't get the win."
Actuality, part 1: Jones had one catch for nine yards, and was targeted eleven times. (FUN FACT: The next lowest catch/target ratio last week for receivers with 10 or more targets was 50 percent. Jacoby was at nine percent.)
Actuality, part 2: The Texans traded a draft pick for 85-year-old Derrick Mason this week.
Actuality, part 3: There is no way Kubiak believes what he said. Impossible.