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Tag:Duane Brown
Posted on: January 7, 2012 7:26 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 7:29 pm
 

Arian Foster got a Texans logo for a haircut

Arian Foster's haircut is the Texans logo. (Twitter.com)
By Will Brinson

If you're watching Houston take care of business against Cincinnati, you may be wondering, "What is up with Arian Foster's haircut?"

Well, it's a Texans logo and Foster got it before the game. We know this, because his teammate and Texans offensive tackle Duane Brown tweeted out a picture of his haircut on Friday.

"Check out my dawg ArianFoster's cut! #ReppinToTheFullest," Brown tweeted along with the picture above.

Foster wasn't great in Week 13's matchup against Cincinnati, but he played a huge role in what's about to be the Texans first playoff win, as the Texans have a 31-10 lead with about five minutes remaining, rushing 24 times for 153 yards.

That, of course, includes his 42-yard tightrope run for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to boost the Texans lead.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 11:21 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 11:46 am
 

Film Room: Texans vs. Bengals wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


The Bengals managed to back-in to the playoffs despite going 1-6 against teams with a winning record. They may not seem like a dangerous playoff opponent, but if you’re the Texans – a team that’s 0-0 all-time in postseason play – every playoff opponent is dangerous. Here’s a breakdown of the Saturday afternoon wild card matchup.


1. Bengals run game vs. Texans front seven
Cincinnati’s methodical, power-based rushing attack (ranked 19th) struggles against fast defensive front sevens. Cedric Benson has more lateral agility than you’d guess, but he lacks the elite initial quickness to make dramatic cutbacks early in the run.

This lends a certain predictability to Cincinnati’s ground game. Less concerned about getting burned in their own over-pursuit, front seven defenders take a faster, more attack-oriented approach.

The Bengals counter this by overloading with six-man offensive lines and multiple lead-and motion-blockers. A speedy defense might trip them up early in the game, but the belief is Benson and his blockers can wear it down late.

That wasn’t the case when these teams met in Week 14. The Bengals tried to go to the ground to protect a late lead, but Benson totaled minus-five yards on five carries in the fourth quarter. Not only are the Texans’ linebackers collectively faster than any in the NFL, but defensive ends – J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith and Tim Jamison are elite penetrating run-stoppers.

If the Bengals want to sustain offense against Wade Phillips’ crew, they’ll have to go to the air.

2. Dalton and the passing attack
The second-rounder from TCU has been one of the steadiest, most cerebral game-managers in all of football this season. What Dalton lacks in arm strength he makes up for in timing, poise and confidence.

First-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has built a system ideally suited for Dalton, featuring play-action and rollouts, moving pockets and quick-strike reads to the slot and flats (hence the expanded joker role for tight end Jermaine Gresham). Dalton has the pocket toughness and moxie to make it work.

But that speedy front seven from Houston can jeopardize all this. It’s not just that the Texans sack quarterbacks (they ranked sixth in that department this season), it’s that they make them play fast. Connor Barwin’s and Brooks Reed’s relentless off the edge rattles pockets; J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith are two of the few 3-4 ends who can beat a pass-blocker with a quick first step; and perhaps most significant, inside linebacker

Brian Cushing blitzes with impeccable speed and timing. Cushing’s effectiveness in this sense is a big reason why Houston has frequently had success blitzing with just five rushers. Able to keep defenders back, the Texans have racked up gobs of coverage sacks.

Dalton is willing to hang in there against the blitz (worth noting is that last time these teams met, Phillips was more aggressive than usual, occasionally playing Cover 0 and bringing the entire gauntlet of defenders). He’s been just a tad inconsistent in his precision accuracy the last few games, and he quietly struggled throughout the year on deep balls. These issues, however, have not derived from hasty or flawed mechanics and aren’t prominent enough for a defense to intentionally exploit.

Green and Joseph will square off again in the playoffs. (Getty Images)

3. Johnathan Joseph on A.J. Green
The Bengals passing attack centers around the downfield acrobatics of A.J. Green. They take several deep shots a game with the rookie Pro Bowler – often off play-action from run formations – and have him clear out coverage for the underneath receivers in the flats.

Interestingly, Green will be guarded by Johnathan Joseph, the sensational ex-Bengals corner who’s now the fulcrum of Houston’s coverage schemes. Joseph is arguably the premier deep ball defender in the NFL. That’s a big reason why he’s in the select group of corners who truly shadow the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver week in and week out.

Joseph’s unique talent lends multiplicity and versatility to the rest of Houston’s secondary. That’s something Dalton and his ancillary targets must adjust to (one-on-one coverage for Jerome Simpson is not guaranteed this Saturday). The Joseph-Green matchup could very well decide the outcome. The last bout was a draw; Green finished with just 59 yards receiving but did have a tremendous 36-yard touchdown.

4. Bengals D vs. T.J. Yates
Even though it was Yates’ first start on the road, Gary Kubiak did not keep tight reigns on his fifth-round rookie quarterback at Cincinnati. He ran Houston’s regular passing attack, which is built around play-action off the stretch handoff (see: below), screens and downfield crossing patterns that attack man-to-man or Cover 3 (a zone the Bengals commonly play against base offensive personnel).

If you could characterize Gary Kubiak’s offense in one snapshot, this would be it. This is the stretch handoff, the most potent play in Houston’s zone run game. We froze the shot here because it’s indeterminable whether it’s a run or a play-action pass. Look at the Bengals back level defenders. The linebackers (53 Thomas Howard and 58 Rey Maualuga) have no choice but to flow right; the defensive backs are playing back and not attacking the run or their receiver.

The stretch handoff forces an entire defense to pause before committing to an attack. It presents a more dynamic play-action element because when it’s finally revealed whether the quarterback handed the ball off or kept it himself, the play has been unfolding for nearly two seconds (much longer than a traditional play-action). By this point, if it’s a handoff, the offensive linemen are further down their run-blocking paths; if it’s a pass, the receivers are further into their routes. Thus, any defenders who misdiagnoses the play is caught even further out of position than usual.

This is the case if the stretch play is executed well. As an offense, the risk is that when your stretch play is executed poorly, the drawn-out time elements work just as potently against you, as defenders that easily sniff out what you’re doing now have more time to react.

Kubiak trusted Yates to make plays; aside from a few short-armed throws, Yates responded extremely well. He exhibited his quick release, poise in the pocket and patience in progressions, completing 26 of 44 for 300 yards and engineering a brilliant 13-play, 80-yard game-winning touchdown drive.

Since then, Yates’ confidence has led to a few bad decisions. He had two atrocious interceptions in the loss to Carolina and did not push the ball downfield the next week when Indianapolis’ defense took away the crossing routes and rollout passes. There’s no telling how Yates might respond to unfamiliar looks in a playoff game.

A deep, lively defensive line has allowed Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to drift away from some of the high-risk pressure concepts that have long defined his system, but don’t be surprised if Zimmer throws a few safety/corner blitzes at the rookie on Saturday.

5. Texans zone run game
Even if they’re confident in Yates and finally have Andre Johnson at full force, the Texans will center their offensive attack around the ground game. Their front five is by far the best zone-blocking unit in the league – LT Duane Brown, C Chris Myers and RT Eric Winston have all had Pro Bowl caliber seasons – and they have the AFC’s best all-around runner in Arian Foster.

Compact 220-pound backup Ben Tate can also move the chains. The Bengals have a staunch run defense, thanks to meaty nose tackle Domata Peko and the great one-on-one play of his sidekick Geno Atkins. They also benefit from the athleticism at linebackers and the superb outside tackling of cornerback Nate Clements.

However, this defense did give up a big run to Ben Tate in Week 14 and got burned on huge runs by Ray Rice (who plays in a zone scheme similar to Houston’s) in both losses to Baltimore.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Wild Card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 2, 2010 12:28 am
 

Colts still the best in the AFC South

M. Hart was a big reason for Indianapolis' success against Houston (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Remember when the Colts lost to the Texans in the season opener and, then, to the Jaguars in Week 4? Remember when we thought that, especially after losing to a couple AFC South rivals, Indianapolis was in danger of not defending its title crown.

The Colts were 2-2 and in trouble. The Texans were finally ready to take over this division.

The way Indianapolis performed tonight in its rematch with Houston, though, those thoughts have quickly been put to rest. The Colts still are the favorites in the AFC South. The Texans still have plenty of work to do in order to make the postseason for the first time, and they’ll have to wait yet another season before they can hope to score their first win in the state of Indiana.

Indianapolis, with its 30-17 win against the Texans tonight, improved to 5-2 and took up residence in first place in the AFC South.

And how did the Colts do it? Like normal. With Peyton Manning, even with a number of starters hurting, making the offense run smoothly and with the defensive ends, particularly Dwight Freeney, eating alive the opposing quarterback.

Manning was 26 of 45 for 268 yards and two touchdowns, and he had some help from RB Mike Hart, replacing the injured Joseph Addai and starting over backup Donald Brown. Hart had 12 carries for 84 yards, and, oftentimes, looked electric. And despite missing TE Dallas Clark, placed on Injured Reserve last week, Manning showed good chemistry with TE Jacob Tamme, who caught six passes for 64 yards and a score.

"Whoever steps on the field with him, he finds a way to get them the football,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said in the postgame news conference.

Meanwhile, Freeney had two sacks, and LB Clint Session was dominant in the middle of the field. And with the Texans driving late in the fourth quarter to try to make it a one-score game, Freeney, once again, beat Houston LT Duane Brown and strip-sacked Matt Schaub, forcing the fumble as the Colts recovered.

Sure, the Texans would have liked to run the ball more. Arian Foster was an absolute monster the last time these teams play, but Houston fell behind 14-0 early and needed to try to catch up immediately. Still, he finished with 102 yards on 15 carries (and caught nine passes for 65 yards).

Still, it clearly wasn’t enough. Still, the Colts clearly are the class of this division. Still, nothing has changed.

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Posted on: October 29, 2010 9:17 pm
 

McNair goes on a search ... for drugs (sort of)

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Houston owner Bob McNair had his staff go through his players' lockers to see if there was anything illegal in them (Getty). Kind of a strange story here from the Associated Press regarding Texans owner Bob McNair.

If you’ll remember McNair was extremely supportive of Houston LB Brian Cushing before and during his four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing drugs policy (Houston LT Duane Brown served a four-game suspension as well). Now, McNair apparently REALLY wants to make sure nobody on his squad will face the consequences of another league violation and suspension.

So, about a month ago, McNair instructed team officials to rifle through the players’ lockers and remove anything that was illegal.

“We concluded that one thing we can do is to just go through the locker room and make sure that if anybody is using anything, it's a product from one of the approved manufacturers," McNair said. "That's about all that we can do."

McNair also said the team has the right to control the players when they’re in the team’s facilities. The NFL Players Association didn’t comment for the story, but I’d be interested to hear their take.

But Brown seems cool with it (of course, what’s he going to say, considering he’s one of the guys directly responsible for the idea of the search and seizure?).

"Whatever you decide to bring into this stadium, whatever you decide to have in your locker, I feel like they have a right to know," Brown said. "There are a lot of things out there where you feel like it's perfectly fine. Some things you could be taking, you could've taken for a while, and it can just come up one time and get you.

"I think they have the right to do that."

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Posted on: September 23, 2010 3:45 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 3:48 pm
 

Week 3 Key Matchup: Texans O vs. DeMarcus Ware

Posted by Andy Benoit

As Week 3 inter-conference matchups go, they don’t get much bigger than Sunday’s Cowboys @ Texans showdown (insert everything’s big in Texas joke here) At least, not from the Cowboys’ side of things. Win and they’re right in thick of the NFC East. Lose and they’re 0-3, facing a week of intense Wade Phillips hot seat chatter.

Offensively, the Cowboys have to get the wheels turning in their ground game (139 yards on 42 carries so far doesn’t cut it). Their passing game is too talented to contain if Tony Romo has the benefit of play-action.

But the key to beating Houston is generating big plays defensively. The Texans have a prolific offense…sort of. It’s an offense that has ranked in the top five in yards each of the past two seasons, but it’s also an offense that ranked 10th in scoring last season and 17th in scoring in 2008. In other words, they don’t always capitalize on their firepower. A big reason is, as history shows, this team can be forced into making mistakes.
D. Ware (US Presswire)
The best way to force offensive mistakes is to generate pressure on the quarterback. It doesn’t have to be sacks – just pressure. (For what it’s worth, the Jets understand this concept better than any team in football.)

Karma seems to be on Dallas’s side this week. On Tuesday, Texans left tackle Duane Brown was suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances. Thus, fifth-year tackle Rashad Butler will get his first career start Sunday.

The Cowboys are salivating at the thought of DeMarcus Ware facing Butler one-on-one. No team creates favorable pass-rushing matchups for its top star as effectively as the Cowboys do for Ware. They always try to align him on the open side of the offensive formation (i.e. away from the tight end). You may notice that Ware often gets in his stance at the very last second before the snap. This is to prevent teams from motioning a tight end to his side.

This formula works well because a.) Ware is a beast to block one-on-one and b.) Dallas’ other outside linebacker, Anthony Spencer, is one of the best high-traffic players in the game. That is to say, Spencer sheds blocks and maneuvers through bodies with great aplomb. His skill set is ideal for combating offensive tackles and tight ends simultaneously.

Of course, the offense ultimately holds the power when it comes to matchups on the outside edges of the line of scrimmage. If the Texans want to prevent a Ware-Butler one-on-one situation, they can. They can always keep a running back in to chip. They can always put a tight end in motion to shadow Ware (the tight end would be a de facto sixth offensive lineman in this case).

The problem, however, is this goes against the mantra of Gary Kubiak’s offense. Houston relies on its tight ends, particularly budding star Owen Daniels, as extra receivers in the passing game. Sure, Kevin Walter can fill the inside receiving void if Daniels stays in to block (in which case Jacoby Jones would play the outside). But if the Texans are willing to sacrifice the threat of Daniels in the passing game, they might as well go with the bigger, more physical Joel Dreessen as their tight end. But if they do that, they’re banking on Dreessen having a bang-up game as a blocking tight end. Dreessen is decent in this capacity but not spectacular.

Another solution could be to spread the Cowboys out and go with a quick-striking passing attack. This would keep the tight ends involved through the air and minimize the burden on Rashad Butler (instead of blocking Ware for three seconds on a play, Butler would only have to block him for one or two). Also, this could test the questionable depth of Dallas’ secondary. Plus, it would make it nearly impossible for the Cowboys to double-team Andre Johnson, as the safety over the top would be too far away from the action to be relevant.

Given the impact that the pas-rush will have in this game – remember, Dallas’ offensive line is struggling and will have to face Mario Williams – the winning team will probably be the one that can build a big enough lead to dictate tempo.

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Posted on: September 21, 2010 9:16 pm
 

Analyzing the Duane Brown situation

Posted by Andy Benoit

Duane Brown has been suspended four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. The good thing about being an offensive lineman and getting busted for performance enhancers is that you’re an offensive lineman, so few people care. (Look at how much hoopla there was when Brown’s teammate, Brian Cushing, got busted. Granted, Cushing’s case was unique because he had the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. But Brown is a first-round drafted left tackle, which makes him hardly irrelevant).

The bad thing is, because you’re an offensive lineman, now those who do know who you are know you as the guy who got busted for performance enhancers. In Brown’s case, it’s a shame, because we’re talking about a young player who has shown marked improvement in his first three seasons as a pro. (Of course, now we might know why.)

Brown polished and quickened his footwork in pass protection last season. He still struggled with the bull-rush and lacked an idea assertive punch on contact, but overall, the Texans had plenty of reasons to like what they had in him.

Rashad Butler will replace Brown. Butler was a disappointment as a third-round pick in Carolina. If Butler struggles, what are Houston’s other options? Because sixth-round rookie Shelley Smith is untested, the Texans may want to move guard Wade Smith to left tackle. Smith has played on the outside before, and the Texans could feel comfortable replacing him inside with Kasey Studdard.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com