What should the Texans do?

Yesterday’s 23-20 overtime loss to Seattle was a microcosm of Gary Kubiak’s tenure in Houston: A mostly-well-executed bread-and-butter game combined with a failure to turn opportunities into points and a fatal predictability on offense that sabotaged the team in the most important moments of the game. It’s a pattern that’s been with Kubiak’s teams since he arrived in Houston in 2006. Through good times and bad times, you can always count on a solid zone-running game paired with an undermanned passing offense and passive decision-making that combines poor clock management, predictable play-calling, and the famed “two-yard pass on third-and-five” to create a team that scores far fewer points than it should and never really competes with the best teams.

How do we fix that? Having watched the Texans fairly regularly over the years, here are my thoughts…

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DeMarcus Ware: Transition from OLB to 4-3 DE

Monte Kiffin was hired by the Cowboys to be their Defensive Coordinator despite some red flags: He was 73 years old, and he’d been unimpressive at his last two stops at the University of Tennessee and University of Southern California. (To be fair, head coach Lane Kiffin was probably a much bigger cause of those teams’ struggles.) The Cowboys had been one of the most recognizable 3-4 teams in the league, with their man-to-man cornerbacks and a Hall of Fame player in DeMarcus Ware at Outside Linebacker. So, understandably, the move to Kiffin’s 4-3 Tampa-2 style of defense was criticized in the offseason as being a waste of personnel talent. Maybe, though, the man who invented the Tampa-2 defense and won a Super Bowl behind it still has some tricks up his sleeve. Continue reading

Tuesday Armchair Quarterback: Week 3 Power Rankings

I wanted to start writing a brief wrap-up column as soon as possible after the NFL week ended. It turned out “Monday Morning Quarterback” was already taken. So I decided to wait until after the Monday night game. It turned out “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” was taken as well. But, as I am still essentially a fan at home (setting aside my gambling interests and this blog) I am just an armchair quarterback, especially compared to our other writers. So this seemed appropriate. Also, I like armchairs.

Power rankings to follow.

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Indianapolis Colts: Protecting Andrew Luck

In April 2012, the Colts drafted Andrew Luck and, in doing so, found another elite level franchise quarterback.  By January 2013, it became clear that the Colts needed to find a way to protect that asset.  In the 2012 season, the Colts offensive line gave up 112 quarterback hits, 21 more than any other offensive line.  Desperate to upgrade that number, the Colts signed Gosder Cherilus to a 5 year, $35 million contract and drafted 2 offensive linemen in the 2013 NFL Draft.

In addition to their offseason personnel moves, the Colts have made some adjustments in 2013 to help protect Andrew Luck.

Pictures after the jump.

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Why is the Giants run game so important?

The Giants have started the season in probably the worst possible way they had envisioned. First, they suffered a loss in Dallas in which they outplayed the Cowboys in every way, except for giving away touchdowns and not executing in the red zone. Against the Broncos, they were able to hang on early, but turnovers showed up again, their level of play dropped, and the game ended up becoming basically a blowout.

The questions I keep seeing come up are of this nature: The Giants have this tremendous passing game, due to their three WRs and a good pass catching TE, so why are the problems David Wilson is having even important? (The Brandon Jacobs signing actually made Giant fans happy, when just an offseason before, many were happy to see him go.) With the run game troubles the Giants have had early on, some fans are even asking for the Giants to become like the Detroit Lions of 2011-2012 and have Eli drop back 50 times a game. With the way they can pass, why does the running game matter?

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Nath’s Power Rankings After Week 2

One quick note for readers: You can now follow us on twitter @zonereads if you’d like to be notified immediately as to when new posts go up.

Apologies for missing week 1 on the blog. I know it’s not a good look for an up-and-coming NFL blog to not have anything after the first week of the NFL season, but our EIC had a family emergency and couldn’t be around to summarize. We’ll try to keep some regular features going during the season, and hopefully have some in-depth analyses of games we were able to watch closely. For now, please enjoy my rankings, and check back later for more detailed analysis of Week 2 as well as, if time permits, a group project from Zone Reads (either a group power rankings or our first podcast!)

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