The Texans have a bye this week, and while entering it as 0-2 has got to be painful, it has given them a chance to regroup. They started that process earlier in the week when head coach Dom Capers replaced offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. And the shuffling continued as the Texans benched starting cornerback Phillip Buchanon and outside linebacker Jason Babin, both former first-round draft picks by the Raiders and Bengals respectively.
"This should be an attention-getter that lets everyone know that we're going to put the lineup on the field that we believe will do the job
that needs to be done," Capers said.
But the team can't even catch a break with the weather. With Hurricane Rita headed their way, they cancelled practices beginning Thursday morning and don't plan to regroup until Monday, losing valuable time to work out some of the kinks and get in the flow with new offensive coordinator Joe Pendry. Based on the damage inflicted by Rita, the Texans could be practicing in Cincinnati, next week's opponent, instead of Houston.
The Colts offense has to get off to a faster start against Cleveland this Sunday than they have against the Ravens and the Jaguars. They've mustered a total of just 3 points in the first half of the two games -- combined. Are other teams figuring out the Colts? Head coach Tony Dungy didn't appear to be concerned about that this week.
"No, we aren't concerned or think that people have caught up with our offense and know how to play us. Jacksonville played us very smart and we'll have to make some adjustments the next time we play them," he said.
"We're not going to sit back and let people dictate to us. We are going to have to take advantage of what they are doing. If it means
running the ball more or doing some things a little bit differently, then we can do that."
Colts fans get a rare treat when the Browns visit this weekend. Although the teams have met a number for times over the past few years, this is the first time the Browns are the visiting team since 1994.
Wide receiver Marvin Harrison injured his wrist this week in practice, but should be fine for game action as he strives to add to his franchise-record of 141 straight games with at least one reception. It's the longest active streak in the league.
The Colts have averaged 4.5 sacks in their first two games. If they can keep up that amazing pace, they would have 72 at the end of the year, eclipsing by far the team record of 59 that has stood since 1975.
Offensive coordinator Carl Smith hasn't lit up the scoreboard with the Jaguars' new "vertical offense" after the first two weeks – at least if you average the results together. Against Seattle, quarterback Byron Leftwich and the rest of the offense put 26 points on the board, but last week in Indianapolis they only managed a meager 3 points.
The Jaguars came into this season with high expectations from the media, the fans, and for themselves. But over their last fifteen games, they have just seven wins, including a 1-1 start this year. Facing the Jets this weekend, they see this matchup as critical to moving away from that seemingly ongoing mediocrity.
The Jaguars, who ran effectively with Fred Taylor in the first half last weekend (5.1 yards per carry), turned away from him and focused more on the passing game for the second half. The move didn't pay off. The Jaguars' were overwhelmed by a Colts pass rush that pressured Leftwich constantly as they sensed the abandonment of the running game. Last week's difficulties could have the Jaguars rethinking their offensive strategy as their receivers just don't seem to have the speed and quickness to overcome the offensive line's leaky pass blocking.
"Yes, we'd like to run it more," head coach Jack Del Rio said. "I think Fred is ready for it. He looked a little better this week than he did last week and I think he'll continue to get better."
The Jaguars also have to find a way to stop the run. Their run defense has allowed the opposing running back to trample them for over 100 yards in their last three contests dating back to the final game of 2004. They'll need to step up their efforts since they are facing Curtis Martin and will be without their leading tackling in the secondary, Donovin Darius, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL versus the Colts.
Head coach Jack Del Rio will have to hope that past history doesn't mean much. He has a dismal 1-8-1 record as a player at Giants Stadium and is 0-1 as a coach there.
The Titans will face pass-happy St. Louis, putting their young secondary to the test. Andre Woolfolk, Michael Waddell, and a platoon of Adam "Pac Man" Jones and Tony Beckham at right cornerback will try to keep up with the speedy Rams receivers, who will use plenty of 3-receiver sets. But the Titans have to be ready for anything when they line up against St. Louis' versatile offense, which also features running back Steven Jackson.
"There is no predictability to it," Titans linebackers coach Dave McGinnis said this week about the St. Louis offense.
The Titans face a tough choice. Focus on stopping Jackson and the Rams could overwhelm their young secondary. Put more defensive backs in and Jackson could have a huge game. Look for them to maintain a balanced defensive attack with some occasional blitzing while hoping that the Tennessee offense can keep pace with whatever results. LDE Kyle Vanden Bosch had three sacks and a fumble recovery last week against the Ravens, so Tennessee may be able to shift the momentum occasionally if he can repeat that type of performance.
WR Drew Bennett has a heel injury that sidelined him on Wedneday, but he should be ready for the game. Both DT Albert Haynesworth (knee) and LB Peter Sirmon (knee) are day-to-day. DB Vincent Fuller had surgery this week for a fractured right fibula. Fuller has been the nickel back, but has not been declared out for the season as the Titans believe he can come back before missing too much of the season.
The good news out of Tennessee is that RB Chris Brown practiced on Wednesday despite a concussion from last weekend's game against the Ravens. This should help ensure that the Titans will be able to maintain some balance in their offensive attack as they strive to put together long drives that keep the Rams offense off the field.
The Rams are 6-3 in the regular season against the Titans, but their most memorable win was Super Bowl XXXIV when they held Tennessee wide receiver just short of the goal line on the final play. Only five members of that Titans team are still on the roster today: Quarterback Steve McNair, offensive linemen Brad Hopkins, Benji Olson and Zach Piller and punter Craig Hentrich.
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