Re-Focused: Week 12: Tennessee at Houston

| November 30, 2010

Lost in the aftermath of Andre Johnson versus Cortland Finnegan, there was a game of football that could play a very big role in the future of two franchises.

The Texans pummeled the Titans with ease, which given the injuries on both sides of the ball isn’t that much of a surprise.  By the end of this game the Titans were down to just five defensive lineman, with just two of them being defensive tackles — and none of them the dominating Jason Jones, whose absence has been clearly felt. When you operate a rigid rotational policy, not having numbers is going to put a spanner in the works for sure.

But injuries don’t take away from a very good Texans performance that was as much about restoring confidence as anything else.  In an AFC South that is ultra-tight, maybe this game is what can push them into the playoff picture.

Titans: Performances of note

Given the inability to rotate, there was going to be plenty of opportunities for a Titans defensive lineman to make a name for himself and that man was William Hayes (+5.4).  Hayes beat Eric Winston all game long and finished the day with a sack, hit and quarterback pressure.  Can he build on this?  We’ll be keeping an eye on it.

At the same time, there was always going to be the opportunity for someone to blow it. And with the opportunity to rest his tired legs gone, Jovan Haye (-5.3) was a lamb to the slaughter of the right side of the Texans line.  They didn’t allow him to get a single pressure, and he ended the day with just one tackle as he was rendered virtually impotent.  It’s amazing to think Haye was the guy signed to replace Albert Haynesworth.

It’s not often you’ll see a quarterback has blatantly not ready for the big time as Rusty Smith (-2.4).  You don’t need a cannon of an arm to succeed but some of the floaters Smith put out there just seemed to lack any sort of zip that makes you question his ability at this level. He really couldn’t handle pressure and didn’t complete a single pass when the Texans got heat on him. For the season, he’s got more completions to the other team (2) than his own (1) under pressure.

Texans: Performances of note

That was the Brian Cushing (+6.5) we have been waiting to see for a while.  He made a number of big plays, especially in the first half, which seemed to kill the Titans offensive momentum and really energize the Texans defense.  He ended up with six defensive stops and the Texans hope he can really kick it in from here.

Though he was assisted by some poor QB play, Glover Quin (+5.2) had the kind of day that will make him forget about Hail Marys for awhile.  In addition to the three interceptions he broke up a further two of the 13 balls aimed his way in a career day.  Let’s see what he does against better opposition.

We briefly mentioned it earlier, but we’re somewhat shocked by how Eric Winston (-8.0) was torn apart by William Hayes and Jason Babin.  The normally sound Winston gave up two sacks, a hit and four pressures and struggled in the run game.  We’ve come to expect more and would look at this as more of a blip than anything else. After a strong first half, it’s interesting that Winston has two on the bounce.

Rookie report

Cornerback Alterraun Verner (+1.9) gave up just 30 yards and had a QB pressure … Kick returner Marc Mariani (+1.3) did well with his punt returns.

First round pick Kareem Jackson (+0.3) didn’t have much to do.  He was targeted three times and allowed one reception … That was the best display we’ve seen from Earl Mitchell (+3.2) who ended the day with a couple of quarterback pressures … Daryl Sharpton (-0.4) got the start but didn’t see much action (though he did manage to miss a tackle during that time)

Random Note

Matt Schaub only threw further than 9 yards on four occasions. … Stephen Tulloch finished the day with 9 defensive stops.

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