SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 31: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers celebrates a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 31 2010 in San Diego California. The Chargers defeated the Titans 33-25. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Last night I sat down and watched (most of) the Texans against the Colts in Indianapolis. I have always been of the belief that the Colts are a team that's very similar to the Chargers, at least offensively, and thought this would be a good way to see what the Chargers might see next week from Gary Kubiak's team.
The Texans lost the game, pretty handily, because of two big reasons.
- They cannot stop the pass. Peyton Manning was not at the top of his game, his leading receivers were Pierre Garcon and TE Jacob Tamme, and yet he still managed to collect 268 passing yards and 2 TDs against zero interceptions. By the way, Peyton's TD/INT ratio this season might end up being the greatest of all time. The entire Texans secondary and LB group seems like it's made up of rookies with just average potential, which leaves them in a position to make mistakes and they rarely seem to make the big play to even it out. Brian Cushing is not meant to be playing MLB.
- The Texans do a really poor job of protecting Matt Schaub. They are 23rd in the league in terms of sacks allowed, and one reason they're not worse is Schaub's quick-trigger. In 2010, he is averaging his worst yards-per-attempt and worst QB rating since 2007. Part of that is a higher number of drop-off passes and less time to get the ball downfield.
One big difference between the Colts and Chargers is the pass-rush. While the Chargers' pass-rush isn't bad, and appears to be improving, the Colts have one of the best pass-rushing tandems when Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis is healthy. Their strong play last night was a big reason the Texans only scored 17 points, and because of it the Chargers should be looking to free up Antwan Barnes and Shaun Phillips to get after Schaub this Sunday.
Also, not to give away the entire gameplan, but the Texans have a difficult time covering TEs that can catch the ball. they're going to need more than just Bernard Pollard to stay with Antonio Gates, so expect plenty of catches by #85 or plenty of open WRs elsewhere in the Houston defense.