Texans Preview By Texans Chick

Texans Preview By Texans Chick

It isn't Sunday yet, so Eagles and Texans fans are still getting along.  As you know, I've been writing about the Eagles for AOL's NFL Fanhouse.  In doing so I've met some cool people from all over the place, including Texas.

To give Eagles fans an idea of what the Texans are all about we have a special guest.  Stephanie Stradley, who I'm convinced was from South Philly in a former life, writes the Houston Chronicle’s FanBlog: Texans and the Texans NFL Fanhouse page.   Stephanie is also a moderator on the Texans
official message board.

She even used the word y'all in her preview.  Awesome.

Stephanie's Texans preview for an Eagles Fan:

Dear Eagles Fans, 

I want to be on record as one of the people who likes Eagles
fans, mostly because y’all loathe the Cowboys just about as much as I do. 

Now, I realize that most of you have a “W” written down for the
game against the Texans, and as a public service, I would suggest that you do
that in pencil, so you can erase it if need be.

You haven’t probably read much about the Texans in the
offseason, other than people saying that they suck and are stupid for not
taking the Best Running Back Evaaaaar. So you might not know much about the changes the Texans have done on
both sides of the ball.

Former Denver
offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak is the new head coach. So far, at least in the preseason, it appears
as though the Texans are learning up the Denver
style offense pretty well. Faster than expected. Former Packers coach, Mike
Sherman has primarily been working with the mostly maligned Texans offensive
line. This is the first year that the
Texans really have anyone worth a crap working coaching the line.

Biggest question mark on offense is how quarterback David
Carr, the young running backs and the line will deal with exotic blitzes. In the preseason, the Texans have given up
the second least amount of sacks with 4 (compared with 17 for the maximum by
any team).

The Denvers-style offense is based on the philosophy that
the defense usually has the best athletes on the field. It tries to defuse that athleticism by trying
to penalize over-pursuit and keeping the defense off-balance. The Texans will
run a lot of bootlegs and dump to the tight ends and running backs. The Texans wide receivers are tall and
physical, and the question will be whether Carr will have enough confidence and
time to get them the ball.

The new defensive coordinator for the Texans is Richard
Smith, formerly of the Dolphins. He is
running an aggressive 4-3 base defense replacing last years 3-4. So, far in the preseason, the Texans have
only given up 3 points in the first quarter against first string offenses. The D line has looked really good and the
question is whether they will be good enough to help with the thinnishness in
the secondary.

The Texans special teams has been a strength of the team
because of their coach, Joe Marciano. They have always outperformed other parts of the team. Kicker Kris Brown
has had an iffy preseason but at least it hasn’t been as bad as Vanderjagt’s.

For those who want to know more than that about the Texans,
I suggest you check out this post.

The Texans have usually done well in their openers, and
Reliant Stadium is sold out and should be packed. It is an extremely loud stadium because the
fans are so close to the field because of the retractable roof.  The roof will be closed for the game. I’ve
been in the first row of a few games, and it is so loud at field level that
your ears ring afterwards.

Anyhow, last preseason the Texans played like crap and then
had the season of crap. I know you can’t
base too much off of the preseason, but at least this preseason the Texans have
looked like a real football team and less like crap. Seriously, before you ink
the W in, check out the offensive and defensive stats of the Texans, especially
the rushing yards.

In sum, what I want to say is that you should not kill or
otherwise harm yourself
if the Texans beat the Eagles.

The Texans Chick

P.S. Oh, and please beat the crap outta Dallas.  Hopefully the Texans will do the same.

P.S.S. If you
are going to the game, show up early because the tailgating is great.  You can find me in the platinum
lot. Be sure to visit the St. Arnold’s
Brewery tailgate because their Houston-made beer is like its own food group.

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

Josh Huff's acrobatic kick return touchdown sparks Eagles to win

For the first 40 yards of Josh Huff’s kick return touchdown on Sunday, he went untouched.

When he got to the Eagles’ 42-yard line, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh was the only guy left in his way.

Huff ran through him.

“Yeah, I can’t let a kicker tackle me,” Huff said. “If he would have tackled me, I really would have been pissed at myself.”

The 170-pound Walsh couldn’t make the tackle and was sent spinning as Huff ran through. Fifty-six yards later, Huff took off from the 2-yard line, flipping into the end zone to give the Eagles their first lead in an eventual 21-10 win over the Vikings (see Instant Replay).

Huff said he knew he was scoring as soon as he saw that he had just the kicker to beat.

With the Eagles’ down 3-0 and with their offense sputtering through the first quarter and change, Huff’s play was a game-changer (see 10 Observations).

“Josh did a great job on the return,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “[Special teams coordinator] Dave Fipp really has those guys ready every single week. You need those things. You need special teams scores.”

After Wendell Smallwood’s kick return touchdown last week, this is the first time in franchise history the Eagles have had kick return touchdowns in back-to-back games. They also have the NFL’s only two kick return touchdowns of the season (see Standout Plays).

“It’s super cool,” Smallwood said. “Now teams have to pick their poison. They can’t go away from one. They can’t say they’re not going to kick to Smallwood, then they kick to Huff and he takes it. I think we’re going to get a lot of teams’ attention.”

Huff also had a role in the Eagles’ offense against the Vikings. He caught four passes for 39 yards, including two that picked up first downs. His 14-yarder in the third helped set up the touchdown that sealed the win for the Eagles.

This season hasn’t been great offensively for Huff. He is clearly the Eagles’ fourth wideout and came into Sunday with just eight catches for 24 yards.

“Obviously, I want to play good on offense, but we have three great guys in front of me,” Huff said. “I’m doing what I can to stay ready and I’m at my best when those guys do need me. At the end of the day, as long as I’m doing my job and as long as I stay ready, today was evident. Whenever they call my number, I’m going to make the most of my opportunities.”

Huff finished off his 98-yard kick return touchdown the same way he finished off his 41-yard receiving touchdown in New England last year: With a flip.

Huff took off from the 2-yard line and did a front flip, landing in the middle in the black end zone on his backside.

“It’s just something that happens,” Huff said. “Everybody says I should have stuck the landing, but I’m not a gymnast.”

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

Eagles' defense outplays Vikings' top-ranked unit

The Eagles’ defense had two challenges on its mind Sunday. First, there was the challenge of outplaying Sam Bradford and the Vikings’ offense. Just as important was the challenge of outplaying the Vikings’ top-ranked defense.

“We wanted to be the better defense out there,” Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. “We wanted to match their intensity. That was the whole thing. That’s all we talked about — let’s be the best defense out there today. We wanted to make sure we were the most dominating defense in the game.

“We wanted to get more sacks, get more turnovers … that was our whole goal.”

In a clash of two of the NFL’s top defensive units, the Eagles beat the previously undefeated Vikings 21-10 Sunday at the Linc (see Instant Replay).

The Vikings defense was very good. It held the Eagles to 14 offensive points and forced four turnovers, but also had no sacks.

The Eagles’ defense was better. It held the Vikings to 10 offensive points, forced four turnovers and recorded six sacks.

If you watched this game and had to guess which defense is No. 1 in the NFL, you’d guess Eagles.

They were that dominating.

They outplayed the best defense in the game.

“We think we’re the best defense, but they’ve been playing great, and they were the best defense coming in,” Eagles safety Rodney McLeod said. “We knew it would come down to whichever defense played the best.

“You could see that the first quarter. We’d make a play, they’d make a play. But you’ve just got to keep on chopping. After the last two games, we wanted to get back to playing Eagles defense, and I feel like we did that.”

McLeod, linebacker Jordan Hicks, Connor Barwin and Graham led a ferocious defensive effort that saw the Eagles batter former teammate Sam Bradford, who absorbed his first loss as a Viking (see 10 Observations).

The Eagles sacked Bradford six times, intercepted him twice and mauled him snap after snap after snap. By the time the Vikings got in the end zone, with half a minute left, it was already a three-possession game.

Neither team had an offensive play longer than 29 yards.

“We think we’re the No. 1 defense in the league,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “We think we can be that and should be that if we go out and play the way we’re supposed to.

“We have to do that every week. But we think we can hang with any defenses out there. And we have a lot of respect for that defense across the field, and we knew we would have to show up for us to even have a chance to be in this game. Because that defense is ranked No. 1 coming into this thing.

“But we also feel we’re the best defense in the league, even though we haven’t played like it. But this is the opportunity you want. On the main stage, you’re coming into our home, and this was our opportunity to face the best defense in the league, and I think we showed our worth.”

The Eagles, who looked nothing like a top defense the last two weeks in losses in Detroit and Washington, improved to 4-2 and dropped the Vikings to 5-1.

Six games in, the Eagles’ defense is allowing just 13.5 points per game. That’s No. 2 in the league, behind only … who else … the Vikings at 12.8 per game.

“For us, it’s a battle of the defenses,” Hicks said. “And we always want to be the best defense on the field and put our team in a position to win.”

Bradford has been sacked more only once in his career, back in 2011 with the Rams, when the Redskins got him seven times.

And after opening the season with no interceptions in four games, the Eagles picked him off twice.

Whatever it takes to get motivated. If it works, it works. And this Eagles' defense was clearly motivated by that No. 1 ranking the Vikings brought to town.

“It motivated everybody,” Fletcher Cox said. “We knew in order to win this game we had to be good up front, and the last two weeks we weren’t very good up front. But we got back to basics and went out and played a physical football game.”

Hicks had 11 tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and two pass knockdowns in his finest game of the year. McLeod became the first Eagle since Quintin Mikell in 2007 with a sack, forced fumble and interception in the same game and added seven tackles. And Graham picked up his fourth sack to go with five quarterback hurries and a forced fumble (see Standout Plays).

The Eagles got back to the way they played defense the first three games of the season. They’ve now held their opponents to 14 or fewer points in four of six games and won them all. In their two losses, they’ve allowed 24 and 27.

“Pride … call it what you want, we knew we had to play well today,” Hicks said. “This defense has a certain standard, and it doesn’t matter what anybody else does, it matters what we do, and ultimately if we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re going to be a top, top, top defense.

“For me, it’s not about them. It’s about us and what we do.”