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 ESPN Insider: Lions vs. Texans 
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Joined: August 6th, 2004, 8:33 pm
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Post ESPN Insider: Lions vs. Texans
Texans at Lions

Texans too much for banged-up Lions
Scouts Inc.

Overview

WR Charles Rogers and DC Dre' Bly are out with injuries, leaving Detroit with huge holes on each side of the ball. The ability of WR Tai Streets and DC Andre Goodman to step up, and the ability of the coaching staff to put them in a position to succeed, should play a big role in this game. Houston has yet to realize its offensive potential and looks to change that this week. Once the running game is established, expect QB David Carr to showcase his arm strength and take some shots downfield against the Lions' depleted secondary.

When the Texans have the ball

Rushing: The Texans have the personnel on the perimeter to exploit Detroit's secondary, especially with Bly out, but they'll need to have success running the football to create some opportunities for the big play downfield. While RB Domanick Davis carried the ball 21 times for 87 yards and two scores last week, two interceptions by Carr hampered Houston's offensive production. As a result, the Texans put just 20 points on the board against the Chargers.

This week the running game will set the tempo, and Davis will be the focus once again. Detroit has two powerful defensive tackles in Shaun Rogers and Dan Wilkinson, so Houston shouldn't have much success attacking the middle. However, without OLB Boss Bailey (knee injury) on the perimeter, Detroit lacks the speed to keep Davis from turning the corner. In addition, LDE Kalimba Edwards, who is returning from a groin injury, is undersized and may have trouble anchoring at the point of attack against 320-pound ROT Todd Wade.

Look for Houston to stretch Detroit's defense horizontally with a zone-blocking scheme up front. If they can get Davis to the corner with consistency, SS Brian Walker will have to start playing the alley in run support, which could open up some opportunities in the passing game.

Passing: The Lions will be without their best cover corner in Bly, which limits their ability to match up in man coverage and weakens depth. As a result, expect the Texans to spread the field and force Detroit to pick its poison.

If Davis can run the ball out of Houston's open sets, the Lions will be forced to keep their base defense in against the Texans' talented trio of wide receivers. Although that may help slow Davis down, it also will create mismatches in the passing game. WRs Andre Johnson, Corey Bradford and Jabar Gaffney are young and improving. While they may struggle against some of the better secondaries in the league, they should have some success getting open against Detroit's corners.

The Lions' other option is to put in the nickel package when Houston goes to its three-receiver sets. However, SS Brian Walker would have to be more involved in run support, which could open the door for some big plays downfield. The onus will be on CBs Andre Goodman and Chris Cash to pick up the slack from Bly's injury. Goodman should step into the starting role opposite Fernando Bryant, while Cash will handle nickel duties. They'll need to avoid giving up the big-play if Detroit is to keep Houston from dictating the pace of this game.

When the Lions have the ball

Rushing: While we're hesitant to call rookie RB Kevin Jones' debut a bust, the numbers can't be ignored. Jones carried the ball 15 times for just 36 yards and failed to get into any sort of a rhythm against the Bears. With that said, don't expect the Lions to abandon the running game, as Detroit's offense needs to establish some sort of balance for QB Joey Harrington to be successful.

Detroit's front five is a highly underrated group and should be able to create some space working against a Texans' front-seven that has very little experience playing together. Jones has great vision and speed, but with his inexperience in mind, expect the Lions to employ more of a committee approach than to feature Jones. Backups Artose Pinner and Shawn Bryson are capable alternatives and likely will play a much bigger role this week as coach Steve Mariucci tries to find the right personnel to give the running game a boost.

The addition of DE Robaire Smith and the returns of NT Seth Payne and DE Gary Walker from injury were supposed to revamp the Texans' run defense. However, the team is coming off a less than remarkable performance against the Chargers. RB LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 121 yards and helped set the tone for San Diego's 27-20 win last week.

Passing: There's no question Detroit's offense will miss the dynamic presence of Rogers, but the drop-off in production won't be paralyzing because of the team's depth at receiver. Streets will step into the starting role opposite rookie WR Roy Williams and should make a seamless transition into the top spot because of his experience playing in Mariucci's system.

Streets is a solid reserve who is more than capable of stepping into the starting lineup, but he doesn't have elite speed or show the ability to stretch defenses vertically like Rogers. As a result, look for Mariucci to incorporate more high-low progression routes on the outside, with Williams and Streets working alongside one another in the twins or bunch formation. The change in scheme will call for Harrington to be more accurate, as he'll need to complete more passes to move the team into scoring position.

The Texans' secondary played well through the first-half of last week's game, but its inexperience showed late, as QB Drew Brees capitalized on a couple of blown coverages. Although rookie DC Dunta Robinson has the potential to be one of the league's best, he is still adjusting to the physical play of the NFL and may have trouble matching up against Detroit's bigger wideouts.

Keep an eye on another Texans' rookie -- OLB Jason Babin. His up-the-field style may make him a target in the Lions' screen game. Jones can be dangerous out of the backfield, and Mariucci may try to replace the big plays lost with Rogers by getting his explosive running back out in space.

Scouts' Edge

The Texans and Lions resemble each other when you look at them on paper. Both have fiery young quarterbacks, explosive potential on the perimeter and defenses looking to find their way. However, when you consider the health of each team heading into this one, it's tough to ignore the injuries that Detroit is facing.

Without the likes of Rogers, Bly, and Bailey, the Lions just don't have the playmakers to keep pace with the Texans. Mariucci will deserve some credit at the end of this one for adjusting his scheme to fit his personnel, but without much speed to speak of, the defense will have a hard time keeping Houston out of the end zone. Although the Texans played poorly on both sides of the ball, Carr and Houston should rebound.


September 15th, 2004, 10:20 pm
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Don't agree with their predictions, but they back it up well.

BTW, I got it from here...

http://www.sohh.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-502095


September 15th, 2004, 10:21 pm
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They do make some great points but the Texans are a horrible road team 4-12 lifetime and have never beaten an NFC team on the road (0-4) - then again you could have read that in the Texans scouting report on the front page.

Good read - thanks.


September 15th, 2004, 11:49 pm
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A Few notes.

Quote:
without OLB Boss Bailey (knee injury) on the perimeter, Detroit lacks the speed to keep Davis from turning the corner.


False and bad misconception. If Texans plan to run to the strongside, Lehman is there. He's a very fast linebacker, who will make the play if he sheds his blocks. Also, on the weakside, there's James Davis, another speedster.

Quote:
Look for Houston to stretch Detroit's defense horizontally with a zone-blocking scheme up front. If they can get Davis to the corner with consistency, SS Brian Walker will have to start playing the alley in run support, which could open up some opportunities in the passing game.


Maybe I was just dreaming this, but isn't Brian Walker on IR? And Bracy is the starting SS? That explains all the Bracy Highlights the past few days doesn't it?

Quote:
If Davis can run the ball out of Houston's open sets, the Lions will be forced to keep their base defense in against the Texans' talented trio of wide receivers.


Um, they'll probably play base defense anyway, no matter what.


Quote:
The Lions' other option is to put in the nickel package when Houston goes to its three-receiver sets. However, SS Brian Walker would have to be more involved in run support, which could open the door for some big plays downfield. The onus will be on CBs Andre Goodman and Chris Cash to pick up the slack from Bly's injury. Goodman should step into the starting role opposite Fernando Bryant, while Cash will handle nickel duties. They'll need to avoid giving up the big-play if Detroit is to keep Houston from dictating the pace of this game.


Again mention of the forgotten Brian Walker. They seem to be updated as far as the last game, but this is a pretty glaring error. As far as the secondary.... there is a difference between the dropoff from starter to top backup this year, versus last. After Dre, Cash and Goodman were gone, that was that. Bryant is a solid corner, and Cash and Goodman are hitter and technician respectively and are good at it. Dre's a bonus but they will get it done.

Quote:
Rushing: While we're hesitant to call rookie RB Kevin Jones' debut a bust, the numbers can't be ignored. Jones carried the ball 15 times for just 36 yards and failed to get into any sort of a rhythm against the Bears. With that said, don't expect the Lions to abandon the running game, as Detroit's offense needs to establish some sort of balance for QB Joey Harrington to be successful.


The difference, is that it'll probably be easier to run up the middle on this 3-4 than on Chicago's 4-3. And it's home. KJ will make a markedly improved difference this week.

Quote:
Although rookie DC Dunta Robinson has the potential to be one of the league's best, he is still adjusting to the physical play of the NFL and may have trouble matching up against Detroit's bigger wideouts.


How true. And even more so he'll have a hard time with another rookie who gave veterans and a pretty good peanut corner fits in the first quarter. Roy Williams fits right into the NFL with his brutal physical play.

Quote:
Without the likes of Rogers, Bly, and Bailey, the Lions just don't have the playmakers to keep pace with the Texans.


I think this should read: "Without the likes of Rogers, Bly, and Bailey, the Texans will now be able to keep pace with the Lions, which would otherwise been a blowout."

Thanks for reading. And this being my first post here. Thanks for the invite.

HB

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September 16th, 2004, 6:05 am
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Quote:
, without OLB Boss Bailey (knee injury) on the perimeter, Detroit lacks the speed to keep Davis from turning the corner.





I disgree with this (Good read it is always good to read something from someone eles point) But I feel Teddy Lehman showed last week that he could play in the NFL. He has a lot of speed and will help stop Davis from reaching the corner. I get excited thinking towards next year when we will have Lehman and Baily on the OLB spots.


September 16th, 2004, 8:24 am
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Any article that describes Joey Harrington as a "firey young QB" is questionable in my book. :)

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September 16th, 2004, 11:13 am
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