Behind Enemy Lines: Five Questions about the Texans with Patrick Starr

Derek Havens
December 9, 2015 at 9:00 am ET

The New England Patriots travel to face the Houston Texans in week 13 on Sunday Night Football.

To help preview this week’s contest, I talked to Patrick Starr of “State of the Texans” of Scout.com to help. Here’s what he had to say about the Texans and this upcoming game against the Patriots.

1 — The Houston Texans are 6-6, how would you describe their season to this point?

PS: At this point, if feel the 6-6 record could have been avoided if Bill O’Brien would have stuck with Brian Hoyer after the first game. O’Brien pulled the plug on Hoyer too early in the process and sent his team looking for answers. Defense was trying to hard and overthinking on the field and ultimately led to some poor performances. 

For the Texans to be in this position is an act from up above and to still hold their playoff chances in their own hands is about all they could ask for at this point. 

 

2 — Despite their 30-21 loss on the road last week against the Buffalo Bills, the Texans won four consecutive games leading up to week thirteen. What’s been the difference for this team as they attempt to turn the season around?

PS: The defense has honed in on their craft and went back to playing fundamental football, tackling especially. They struggled with simple tasks prior to the bye week and it was tough to watch NFL players not live up to expectations. 

Add in a rejuvenated running game, the Texans have put a recipe of old-school football as the primary focus during the second half of the season success. 

 
3 — What are Houston’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
PS: The Texans strengths would be their offensive line in the run game and in pass pro. They have been exceptional in pass pro this season, the best they have been as a group in at least the past five seasons. 

DeAndre Hopkins is the lone offensive skill player that makes defenses worry about them. Leaving him one-on-one with a cornerback is not wise and he proved that when Darrelle Revis was matched up with him. Hopkins turned it into one of the more dominating performances of his young career. 

Also add J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney when they all line up in the defensive front. The trio can cause issues in a hurry and can collapse a pocket. As the season has gone on, they are getting more accustomed to working next to each other and are feeding off the issues they can create. 

As for the Texans weaknesses. 

Their lack of team speed on both sides of the ball is a concern. Any team that can run creates issues for them. 

No real skill players outside of DeAndre Hopkins is an issue. There are no real dynamic playmakers that can break games open with one touch much less attract extra attention because they are on the field. 

4 — J.J Watt is one of the league’s top defensive players. With New England’s offensive line struggling, can he be the difference in this contest? How do you envision the Texans exploiting this potential mismatch?

PS: First and foremost, J.J. Watt has to get healthy. He missed two days of practice last week and was limited on Friday and is was clear against the Bills he was not 100% with his groin issue. He tried to turn it on in the 4th quarter but it was not a normal game for Watt that most are accustomed to seeing from him. 

Watt is going to move everywhere along the defensive line. He will mainly line up over the right tackle but has been bouncing around more over the center with Clowney and Mercilus off the edges. You will see Watt line up in at least 4 to 5 different spots on the defensive line and if he finds a weak link on the offensive line, there is a good chance he will set up shop there for the remainder of the game. 

It all comes down to his health but he will be playing on Sunday no matter what. 

5 — Bill O’Brien has close ties to the Patriots. Is this an advantage for Houston or New England?

PS: I think the advantage always goes to New England no matter what. O’Brien might know some tendencies or calls the offense might use and Vince Wilfork might be able to give some insight to the defense and what to expect. Trust me, any player in that locker room that played for a team on a schedule at one time will be questioned about everything they know when it comes to scheme and personnel. I would imagine the same will happen with Keshawn Martin and Damaris Johnson in New England also. 

Also there is reason to believe both teams match-up very well against each other in terms of personnel and knowing each other. Belichick also probably has a good idea on what Romeo Crennel likes to do outside of what is on film. 

It will be an intriguing matchup for sure, but the advantage will got the Patriots with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady everyday of the year when you line up playing the game of football. 



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