Opposing View: Texans beat writer John McClain on the Lions-Texans matchup

Posted Nov 21, 2012

This week’s opposing view comes from Texans beat writer John McClain from the Houston Chronicle. McClain has been with the Chronicle, covering the NFL, for 33 years. You can follow him on Twitter at @McClain_on_NFL

1. Has defensive end J.J. Watt made Texans fans forget all about Mario Williams?

Fans forgot about Mario last year when rookie Brooks Reed and first-time starter Connor Barwin, a Detroit native, combined for 17½ sacks at outside linebacker. Watt has become the most popular player on the team because he plays so hard and well on every play. He’s not just one-dimensional. He plays the run exceptionally well and has 11 ½ sacks, too.

2. Andre Johnson vs. Calvin Johnson. If you had to pick one which one would you choose and why?

Calvin because he’s younger. Andre, 31, is coming off the best game of his career – 14 catches for 273 yards and the winning touchdown in overtime. Over the last six weeks, Calvin averages 6 catches and 116.6 yards. Johnson averages 8.6 catches and 117.8 yards.

3. What is the concern level with the Texans pass defense given last week's performance against Jacksonville and now facing a potent attack led by Matthew Stafford and Co.

The defensive backs played their best game against the Bears and their worst game against the Jaguars. Chad Henne came off the bench to throw for 353 yards and four touchdowns. They blew coverages, ran into each other like the Keystone Cops and made mental errors. The coaches and players say they’re confident there won’t be a repeat. They were fortunate to survive that kind of pathetic performance. In their defense, late in the fourth quarter and overtime, they shut down the Jaguars so the offense could get the ball one last time for what proved to be the winning touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson.

4. Andre Johnson and Arian Foster get the headlines, but how important is Owen Daniels to that Texans offense?

Gary Kubiak, who calls the plays, loves to use two tight end formations. It used to be Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen. Dreessen signed with Denver. Garret Graham, who caught one pass in his first two seasons, was promoted to the backup job. Against Jacksonville, he had eight catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Daniels finished with six receptions for 57 yards. Daniels is second in seniority to Andre Johnson. Because he’s been working with Matt Schaub for the last six seasons, he and Johnson are Schaub’s favorite target. Daniels excels on crossing routes and routes over the middle. He’s also a good on-line blocker.

5. How concerned are the Texans with the Lions front four on defense and the pressure they can apply?

The Texans rank fourth in sacks per pass play. They have 335 passes – 330 by Schaub – and they’ve been sacked nine times. Schaub has been sacked eight times. He does a good job of getting rid of the ball. His motto is to not force a pass into coverage, just throw it away and live for another play. He and the linemen say they have great respect for the Lions. The Lions’ front four will be especially important against the run. The Texans are a run-first team. They want to control the ball. They lead the league in average time of possession for the second consecutive season.