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
Foster will murder us on outside runs and dump offs. he'll take at least one to the house on a long run. if DMAC can match that, we will certainly have a shot. but then you have Schaub against our terrible pass D... yea, like i said, after this week, we have a weak lineup comin all the way to playin SD in Nov. we should be able to string together a bunch of wins. not too worried yet, win or lose this game.
Took this quote from another site ...
"The Denver Broncos tortured the Raiders for years with zone runs during Mike Shanahan's tenure, which ended with a 21-7 record against his former team. Kubiak, an assistant on Shanahan's staff, brought the scheme with him to Houston when he was hired as head coach in 2006. The Texans are 4-1 against the Raiders under Kubiak and have averaged 153.2 yards per game rushing in those games."
pretty much what Im expecting to see on Sunday.
Our best hope this season is that our O might be able to take Foster out of the game. Maybe ...
Schaub is decent but he is not a great QB and can be pressured and put out of sync easily, and with Johnson out their WRs are average at best. Beyond Johnson at WR their next top two WRs have combined this year for 11 catches and 140 yards!
I think we actually might match up well with the Texans on Offense this year. I have faith in Branch being able to take Daniels out of the game like he did Gronkowski last week, Routt and whoever else is going to be starting should be able to play man-on-man with Jacoby and Walters which means we can stack the box against Foster.
Stopping the run to prevent last years failure is priority number one! Interesting to see if we are up for the task this game! We ALWAYS have problems stopping a well run ZBS scheme, so it will definately be a challenge!
... Good thing that Huff, Branch and Missile Mike are ready to go, cause Huff will be needed as CB and we need a couple of tackling safeties to help stuff the run! Will also help if they go to double TE sets as we will then be able to use our 4-3 base while having two safeties (Branch and Mike) to take out the TEs, while Routt can take the WR and Huff cover deep, while the big guys focus on gunning Foster or Schaub down!
The weakest aspect of our D has been when we have been spread out, as the personel is not strong enough to stop the run if it goes beyond the D-Line and the one or two LBs that are back there, so good thing that theres not too many good WR on their team!
We need to do whatever it takes to stop the run and make Schaub create this game without Johnson, cause then we will be miles ahead!