Behind Enemy Lines with JP Crawford, Part 2

Behind Enemy Lines with J. P. Crawford, Part 2--The publisher of joins us again for the second part of our conversation about the Houston Texans.

RT: Is the fan base in Houston still just happy to have a team or, looking at the quick success that the expansion Panthers and Jaguars enjoyed in their early seasons are the folks there getting restless about the team's poor record?
JPC: There aren't any jealous rumblings about how well Carolina and Jacksonville did during their early years, but fans in Houston are ready to have a winning season.  I haven't heard any outrageous expectations of the Texans from fans.  Most would be happy if the team would go 8-8 this year, which is feasible if the Texans can pull a few tight games in their favor.  Two years ago, the Texans finished 7-9.  Last year was the year most fans thought they would see a winning season, but instead they were let down with the franchise's worst season ever.  People are ready for a win.  The Texans are not new anymore, and many Houstonians feel that they should be a better caliber football team by now.

RT: How would you characterize Houston's defense--is it of the aggressive, blitzing variety or do they focus more on stopping the big play?
JPC: Houston's defense is geared more towards stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage at this point.  Starting CB DeMarcus Faggins injured himself during training camp and won't be back until Week 5 or so, and the Texans have had to do a quick look at available free agents to patch up the secondary and find someone who will work until then.  The Texans front seven is really the threat to watch out for.  DE Anthony Weaver has come over to the Texans in the offseason and has really had a positive impact on the line. Antwaan Peek and Jason Babin have also stepped up, along with second year DT Travis Johnson and rookie Mario Williams. The Texans defensive ranking is a bit misleading given that Houston has already faced the top two offenses in the NFL.

RT: Why is Mario Williams struggling? Is it just the rookie learning curve or are there some early signs that it may be a long time before he is productive?
JPC: From what I've seen and heard from Mario, it is more learning how the game is played at the professional level.  Every player on the field is an athlete that could change a game in favor of his team at any time.  Mario was being moved around the D line during the first game against the Eagles, but Kubiak has elected to keep him on the weak side playing defensive end in hopes that he will be able to focus and produce.  Mario is a real player, and a real athlete.  He has the potential to be something very special for the Texans in the future, but it will take a few weeks to get him comfortable playing at this level.

RT: Andre Johnson had an off year due to injuries after his breakout 2004 season. Is he back into his old form and is he someone that a Redskins secondary that has been struggling should fear?
JPC: Johnson is doing extremely well this year, and will do so as long as the offensive line can keep Carr on his feet.  The choice to bring Eric Moulds in was also made to give Johnson some veteran leadership and pass along that veteran knowledge.  Both Johnson and Moulds already have 10 catches on the season.  Johnson should also be in position to have a better year because opponents' secondarys won't be able to key in on him quite as easily with another capable wide reciever on the field in Moulds, and the additional threat of tight ends Daniels and Putzier.

RT: Give me one player that most Redskins fans have never heard of who has a chance to make a game-changing play on Sunday.
JPC: I'm not sure if anyone outside Houston paid attention to the Texans after they selected Mario Williams in the first round, but in the second round they selected a linebacker out of Alabama named DeMeco Ryans.  This guy was a fantastic pickup.  Ryans has earned his job starting as the Texans middle linebacker his rookie year and will be a vital part of the Texans defense for years to come.  I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see him named the Defensive Rookie of the Year over anyone else.  Ryans is quick, smart, and always on top of the ball.  He seems really mild mannered and humble when you talk to him, but he is a beast on the field.  Redskins fans will surely remember Ryans after this week.

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