Behind Enemy Lines: Texans Edition

Texans publisher Patrick Starr weighs in on some team chatter, including the resurgence of Arian Foster, the dominance of J.J. Watt, and the reliability of Ryan Fitzpatrick

If Matt Schaub was a 'zero' last season, from 0-10, what's Ryan Fitzpatrick so far this season?

Right now, I feel I could comfortably give Fitzpatrick a 4.5. This is based off him being a middle of the road quarterback who is currently setting career highs in completion percentage (63.4), yards per attempt (7.7) and quarterback rating (87.6). What does this all mean? Despite all these career marks he is setting, it is just not good enough to make a difference when the team needs him to. Fitzpatrick needs help to make things happen on the football field and he has been erratic as a passer on the slant routes and anything to the middle of the field.

After being horribly slowed with back injuries last year, does Arian Foster's resurgence surprise you? Not so much his health, but the high level that he's returned to?

Arian Foster proclaimed himself healthy before the season started, but was slowed by his hamstring which caused him to miss one game this season. With Foster being out eight games last year, more than anything it showed how special of a player he is healthy. There were plenty of questions surrounding his health and no one really had a real clue on what type of player he would be in 2014. Averaging 5.2 yards a carry, Foster has been hitting his stride in the new offense and he is making people miss once again. He is the Texans offense when they need a big play and he has five games where he has had a run of 30 or more each game. He has rushed for over a 100 yards in all but one game he has appeared vs. the Buffalo Bills, where he was still dealing with his hamstring issue. He is playing out of his mind at the moment and is literally a one-man wrecking crew for the offense.

Bill O'Brien was vaunted for his work with tight ends in New England (namely developing the Gronk/Hernandez combo). Why are Houston's tight ends barely used so far in 2014, do you suppose?

It think the big thing is that they are not as athletic as Bill O’Brien had hoped for. I even considered them a strength on the team coming into this season, but they have been far from that. Rookie C.J. Fiedorowicz has started majority of the season, but his mental errors have been tough to overcome, while veteran Garrett Graham is being asked to be a blocker which he is not the best at. Second year tight end Ryan Griffin has been used very sparingly on offense. The trio has not blocked well or been real threats in the passing game. Little separation and Fitzpatrick is just not looking their way.

Aside from J.J. Watt, which defenders do you notice a lot more from this season, with legendary defensive mind Romeo Crennel calling those shots?

The defense is an interesting group to say the least. Defensively, safeties Kendrick Lewis and D.J. Swearinger are the catalyst. The Texans lead the NFL in takeaways and the two safeties have been all over the football. Both Lewis and Swearinger have forced three fumbles, recovered one, plus one interception. With their high level of turnover ability, they have also a knack for blowing coverages on the back half of the secondary. Also, this will be Jadeveon Clowney’s third appearance of the season, and his presence alone will be a positive. He is still learning, but his pressure off the edge against a passing offense like the Eagles could be exactly what he needs to lock up his first NFL sack.

They say one player does not make a team, but where would this team be without J.J. Watt?

Let’s be honest; J.J. Watt has been a one man wrecking crew and has won games with big plays by himself. He single-handedly won the Buffalo Bills game with an interception returned for a touchdown, and made plenty of game changing plays in their other wins. Watt makes everyone around him better, and his ability to dominate play to play is a sight to see. Without Watt you’re looking at least a two game swing in the loss column.

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