The Houston Texans will play the Detroit Lions after a short week, having been mercilessly thrashed on “Monday Night Football.” Who are the Texans? I remember once fondly a team in Houston called the Oilers, but these guys, they got skull helmets, they got a quarterback that they paid a lot for but no one seems to like, they got a Studsy McMuscles Brand-Bot and they got plenty of players people actually like, like DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller.
We spoke with Brett Kollmann from our Houston Texans sister site, Battle Red Blog, to find out more about this mysterious opponent.
1. Brock Osweiler hasn't had the greatest of seasons, and after “Monday Night Football” we started seeing a backlash grow against him, particularly in regards to how much money Houston paid him over the offseason? It's all very dramatic and over the top, but what is the mood in regards to Osweiler right now, and what's your take on his performance so far?
Honestly, the Texans are only shackled to Osweiler for two years. The whole "72 million dollar QB" narrative is completely overblown because of how the contract is structured, and even then Brock is only getting paid as a middle of the pack quarterback when you look at how much of a percentage of the salary cap he is commanding. But everyone just loves to shout "72 million!" from the rooftops as if it's some sort of gargantuan, inexcusable number. I'd rather spend that much money on a passer that has shown a lot of potential in the past rather than 100 million dollar headcase of a nose tackle (like the Bills) or an edge rusher who averaged only eight sacks a season (like the Giants).
Does the deal look bad right now? Sure. Do I think that Osweiler is completely irredeemable based off of just seven games, three of which came against elite defenses on the road? Not in the slightest.
2. Let's talk about the defense. Obviously Houston is without J.J. Watt, but how is this side of the ball performing without him? How has Jadeveon Clowney progressed in the NFL thus far?
Injuries have really taken their toll so far. This unit had enough talent to be truly special at the beginning of the year, but now Watt is done for the season, their top three corners have all been banged up and/or placed on injured reserve, Brian Cushing sustained a knee injury on his first snap of the season, and pretty much the only people holding this whole operation together are Benardrick McKinney, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney in particular has been mesmerizing against the run, and he's shown some more flashes as a pass rusher as well. Houston has used him as everything from a 3-technique defensive tackle, to a 5-technique base end in their 3-4, to even a stand up rush backer out on the edge. He's big enough, strong enough, and fast enough to play virtually any position along the defensive front, so that is exactly how they are going to use him. Expect him to line up against every offensive lineman Detroit has to offer at least a few times this game.
3. Lamar Miller is day-to-day with his shoulder injury sustained on Monday Night Football. How big is his role in this Houston offense, and what would be Plan B in a potential absence?
Houston really doesn't have a "plan B" simply because Miller is so valuable to this team, but if he can't play it will be the Alfred Blue show. He's a slower, traditional downhill power back that has made his living off of short yardage situations and special teams coverage units, so do not expect the same explosiveness and versatility that you see from Miller. Lamar has been so crucial to this team's success, in fact, that I think there is a legitimate chance that this team might be sitting at 2-5 right now without him on the roster. The more snaps he gets over Blue, the better.
4. I want to talk about the Texans draft class. Two big name weapons were acquired in Will Fuller (BIG BILL) and Braxton Miller. What's your impressions of them so far? Anyone else Lions fans should know among the rookies?
Fuller is a legitimate game breaker. He started out the season on a hot streak, leading the team in receiving yardage and receptions (even over DeAndre Hopkins) before a nagging hamstring injury slowed him down. He returned to action against the vaunted Denver secondary last week, but unfortunately Brock Osweiler was so out of sync with the rest of the offense that he never really had a chance of making an impact anyway. Keep an eye on him this Sunday, though - with his speed and route running ability, he has a tendency to get open for deep balls a lot.
As for Braxton Miller, he also had a nagging hamstring injury to start off his rookie season, and he has seen much less usage in this offense so far. He beat out Cecil Shorts for the starting slot receiver job in training camp - and he had a damn good preseason as well - but Texans fans are still waiting for that one breakout game from him. Who knows, if the Lions have a below average slot corner he might finally start getting force fed some touches this week. A fan can dream, right?
5. Please state the best pizza or chicken wing location in Houston, as well as your preference for either pizza or wings. This is incredibly important.
I'm actually not a Houston resident, believe it or not. I can say, however, that in my home town (Huntington Beach, CA), there are no better wings in the area than at Buffalo Wings N' Things over on Beach Blvd. They've got the perfect amount of crispiness outside, the right amount of tenderness inside, and they don't overwhelm you with excess sauce either. It's the perfect wing, to be honest.