This week the Raiders have another tough test against the 3-1 Houston Texans. They have a much improved team this season mainly due to their defense catching up with their high-powered offense. And so we talk Texan with Dustyn Richardson from Texans Tribune.
Here are his answers to my questions:
CB Jonathan Joseph was the big name Texans free agent signing this offseason. Is he the main reason for the team's improved defense?
Joseph and safety Danieal Manning were the two big free agent signings this summer for the Texans and have certainly helped improve the defense. I'd have to say the main reason for the improved defense is new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips has installed a new 3-4 defense and moved Mario Williams to outside linebacker. With the addition of first round pick JJ Watt this defense is now a legitimate NFL defense compared to the embarrassment it was last season.
What has been the most surprising development for the Texans this seasons?
The most surprising development has to be the defense. We all knew that Phillips would install a new defense and they would be improved but we didn't know they would catch on to the 3-4 so quickly and play so well. The Texans never have been able to rush the passer outside of Mario but this year we have seen Connor Barwin, Watt, Antonio Smith, and most of the defense getting to the quarterback and making big plays.
Do you think the loss of Andre Johnson against the Raiders will be significant?
Andre is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL and his loss will definitely hurt the Texans. That being said, Andre didn't play last year in Oakland and the Texans were still able to get the win. Without Andre on the field it will be up to other players to step up. Jacoby Jones will start in Andre's place and we'll see if he can finally put together some of the raw talent he has shown in flashes.
What area of the Texans team worries you the most facing the Raiders?
Darren McFadden is the main worry for most Texans fans. McFadden is big and fast and can take over a game by himself. Phillips will show the Raiders a lot of run blitzes to contain McFadden but his ability to break one on any play is very worrisome.
Are the Texans the type of team that could plug in just about any running back and have success?
That's a great question that has come up a lot. I think they can plug in a back who fits their style and be successful. That being said Arian Foster is a special back. Ben Tate and Steve Slaton have both had success in this offense but seeing Foster back on the field last week against Pittsburgh just reminds you how good he is. The Texans can have success with guys like Tate and Slaton but Foster is the key to them taking the next step.
The Texans have the fourth ranked rushing attack in the NFL. The Raiders have the top ranked rushing attack. Who do you see getting more yards between Darren McFadden and Arian Foster?
I think both backs could have big games. I'll go with Foster just because of Johnson's injury. Gary Kubiak has said that they will ride Foster and you could see that last week when he got 30 carries. I think both guys finish somewhere near 120-130 yards.
Who wins this game and why?
I like the Texans in this game because of the QB match up. Jason Campbell has played good this year but Schaub knows how to run this offense and he will get Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter, James Casey, and all the weapons involved and get the Texans a close victory. I'll say 27-20 Houston.
To see my answers to his questions, CLICK HERE