The Tennessee Titans’ Week 6 opponent, the Houston Texans, have gotten off to a rough start to the 2020 season after five games.
Not only did they start 0-4 while having to navigate an absolutely brutal schedule, but Houston also made a change at head coach (and general manager) with the firing of Bill O’Brien.
The Texans immediately responded to the move in Week 5 by having their best all-around game under interim head coach Romeo Crennel, leading to Houston nabbing its first win of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
We recently sat down with Mark Lane of Texans Wire to get more information on the team he covers.
We asked him about the impact firing O’Brien could have on the Texans moving forward, and what’s behind the struggles of Houston’s run defense. Find out his answers to those questions and more as we go behind enemy lines ahead of the Titans’ Week 6 matchup.
Lane: “They’re going to play more relaxed, loose, and fun. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly no longer feels like he has someone looking over his shoulder constantly. If you can believe it, there was a discussion of O’Brien actually getting more involved with play-calling after Houston lost to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. That was one of the storylines coming out of Monday morning’s presser. Then, he got fired. But the thing with Houston is there are problems inherent with the roster that have nothing to do with O’Brien, or at least, not O’Brien the coach.”
Lane: “Deshaun Watson said he decided that if they were going to play press coverage, he was going to make the Jaguars pay by going over the top to Cooks. The Texans also had a concentrated effort to get him going early. Of course, it isn’t as though because Cooks has been absent that the Texans haven’t had a passing game. Receiver Will Fuller has logged two 100-yard receiving games this season. It just kind of looks bad in the media when Cooks is silent and DeAndre Hopkins is leading the NFL in catches and receiving yards with the Arizona Cardinals.”
Lane: “They lost defensive tackle D.J. Reader in free agency. The former 2016 fifth-round pick developed to the point he was a run-stuffing big ugly, but the contract he deserved didn’t fit in with Houston’s plans. So, you go from a Pro Bowl alternate, proven veteran to a second-round rookie who has not had the conventional introduction to the NFL in Ross Blacklock. They also let Damon Harrison hang out in free agency without bringing him in. Houston got flat-footed at defensive tackle and it shows up in the run defense.”
Lane: “Inside linebacker Tyrell Adams. He is playing in place of Benardrick McKinney, who has gone on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He played 67 snaps last week. Houston’s run defense wasn’t horrendous as they held Jaguars running back James Robinson to less than 50 yards rushing.
“Tight end Jordan Akins. I don’t know if he’s under the radar in Houston per se, but he is one of the forgotten athletic tight ends. Akins excels at yard after the catch. If he can find the soft spots in Tennessee’s coverage, he should be able to pick up some yards.”
Lane: “I think the Titans run all over the Texans and Tennessee ceremonially takes the baton from Houston as the most dominant team in the division. Titans, 34-17.”