New England Patriots behind enemy lines: Week 3 Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 19: Tom Brady
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 19: Tom Brady /

The New England Patriots will face the Houston Texans this Sunday in Foxboro, and in order to get to know the opponent I sought out some Houston experts.

Each week of the New England Patriots season brings a new chance to connect with experts across the FanSided network. This week as the Pats get set to take on the Texans, I had the chance to get some answers from Brian K. Patterson, an expert at House of Houston.

Houston seems to be the one team that really gives the Patriots troubles recently, and their pass rush will be even better with J.J. Watt back at full strength.

Brian was able to provide us some insight as to who the Texans really are and the chance that they have against New England. Without further ado, here are the questions I asked and what Patterson had to say for an answer.

How serious does the J.J. Watt finger injury seem to be? He obviously will play but he did say it was extremely uncomfortable towards the end of the game against the Bengals.

I’ve come to know J.J. Watt as a guy that has an extremely high threshold for pain and this situation is no different.  Although this will cause some discomfort for him, he’ll be fine and will play with the ferociousness that most of us will expect.  This man suffered a broken hand back in 2015 was still able to play with a life-sized club covering his left hand.  And by the way, he took home the Defensive Player of the Year honors as well.  He’ll be out there and fine.

Do you think Clowney and Mercilus will be used inside again like in the Divisional game from last season?

We’ll see a little of that but it won’t be an exact blueprint.  We’ll stick to what’s working with a mix-and-match of positions to throw the Pats off.  I know Mike Vrabel has certainly got a bag of tricks that he’ll pull from.  We can’t come in with a carbon-copy of last year’s game because of the presence of Watt.  Quite honestly, I don’t think neither Nate Solder nor Marcus Cannon can handle the power of those three aforementioned guys.  Vrabel just needs to ensure that Clowney is on the left side, he’s more effective there while Mercilus will be fine on the right.

Can the defensive backs keep up with Cooks and Dorsett if Brady is given time to throw?

That’s the thing, I don’t think Brady will be given much time but his time in the pocket has trended upward since 2016 through these two games.  He’s spending an average of 2.67 seconds to throw from the pocket as opposed to 2.49 in 2016.  That’s 0.18 seconds longer which can be a world of difference in critical situations.  This is likely the result of improvements to the offensive line but I can definitely attest that it’s not because Brady has any signs of slowing down.  We have a talented cast of defensive backs in Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Eddie Pleasant and possibly even Marcus Burley.  Joseph’s shoulder has been a concern of mine from last week’s injury but it looks like he’ll be good to go.  I just hope that it won’t have a lingering effect on his tackling on Cooks, his likely assignment.

How are the Texans planning to solve their offensive woes?

We have a ton of them and they won’t be solved overnight.  I’d love for Bill O’Brien to continue to tailor the game plan to Deshaun Watson’s strengths.  I’d like to see more hurry-up, no-huddle as well as play-action.  We have a strong running game so that aspect of it should work.  But if our receivers can’t haul down catchable balls, then it’s going to be a rough go for this offense.  We’re going to have to score a lot of points to keep up with your high-powered offense.  The terrific thing about Watson is his poise and not getting rattled despite the situation.  He’ll be resilient, trust me, he’s got something for you guys that you’re not prepared for.  That’s how great he is — he’s going to find the end zone if he has to get there his damn self.

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How are the Texans preparing for the pass rush from rookie Deatrich Wise?

Wise is off to a great start with 2.0 sacks and three tackles as a ROOKIE!  Wow.  I’m sure there’s a game plan but with this tissue paper of an offensive line, he’s going to break through.  Watson will be on the run quite a bit from this guy but will have to take some inevitable sacks.  The good thing about Watson is that he’s young, durable and can take the hits unlike his counterpart in Tom Savage.  I just don’t want this to be a regular occurrence as I want him to a have a long and fruitful career with the Texans.

Prediction for the game?

Texans will FALL to the Patriots 31-17.

Next: Deatrich Wise off to a great rookie start

The Texans and Patriots will face off at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro this Sunday at 1 PM, as each team is going for their second win of the season. Brady will need to have time to throw, so the offensive line is going to have to be the start of the game. Houston has the defensive ability to slow down the New England offense, and it’s surely going to be a battle all night long. We’ll have a final preview out on Sunday morning before the game, so you have all of the information you need before kickoff.