With their best wide receiver Andre Johnson out with a hamstring injury, and with their best linebacker Mario Williams out perhaps for the season, it is tempting to think the Houston Texans are going to be easy pickin's for the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at 4 P.M. (EST).
The Texans will miss the vertical routes and the runs-after-catch that Andre Johnson brought... Andre Johnson is arguably the best, most complete wide receiver in the NFL... and the Ravens have one less headache to game-plan for...
Houston's head coach Gary Kubiak will find a way to compensate with his game plan and play designs... and the Ravens should be wary of the Texans coming out and playing with fierce abandon. That always seems to be the case with a team that's cornered by injuries in this league.
Ravens PR reporter Billy Johnson got some quotes from Kubiak on this subject:
"It’s one thing to overcome injuries – that’s part of this business – but you’re talking about two leaders on the football team with Andre [Johnson] and Mario. So, that’s kind of a blow to the guys from a mental standpoint. But, you’ve got to get over it, you’ve got to move on, got to have guys step up – it’s a long season in this league – and you’ve just got to stay positive and keep everybody working for the long haul. And we’ve got some adjustments we’ve got to make, so we will do that, but we’re going to have to have some young guys step up and play very big the rest of the way for us.”
Does the team feel “snake bitten” by all the injuries this year?
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself in this league. Everybody has injuries, and it’s all about who rebounds. Adversity comes, and it’s all about how you deal with it. Adversity is going to come.”
Is facing the Ravens’ run defense one of the NFL’s ultimate challenges?
“There is no doubt. Hell, they are the ultimate challenge across the board as a football team. I think they are playing as good as anybody I have seen on film in a while in this league. They are playing with a lot of confidence, and they have had a great defense for many, many years. Offensively, I think Joe [Flacco] is becoming one of the top quarterbacks in the League. They are running the ball extremely well, and they always play special teams well, so [it's] a big, big challenge for us as a team.”
Johnson also got this quote from all-pro running back Arian Foster, who I can assure you is very healthy coming into the Ravens game:
How important is the team’s play-action pass to the offense?
“This offense, [head coach] Gary Kubiak’s offense, has been a staple here for years. I think it is very imperative in order for it to blossom, the way it needs to blossom, because the play-action pass, everything is predicated off us being a good running team, and if we’re having a good run, it’s hard to stop us because we have a lot of threats as tight ends, receivers and [running] backs out of the backfield. Play-action is imperative.”
So look for the Texans to offset the absence of Andre Johnson by going a lot more to their backs and tight ends in play action passing downs. This will put the onus on the Ravens' safeties and corners, who have their own share of injuries to overcome... Nice chess move by Kubiak.