The Texans know Sunday’s game in Nashville against the Titans will test their true level of resilience.
“You see what you really have, and what you’re really made of,” said Cornerback Bradley Roby. “You see what the heart is of the team. At the end of the day, getting into the playoffs, it’s the same situation.”
Facing a division rival and a solid Ryan Tannehill will require focus in all three phases. Tannehill is also mobile, rushing for 37 or more yards in the past 3 of 5 games. The Texans cannot have another outing like their Broncos loss, and the defense knows they need to capitalize on knowing the brain of Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel, who previously served as the Texans Linebackers Coach and eventual Defensive Coordinator. Some of the veterans on the team such as Bernardrick McKinney, Whitney Mercilus, and Johnathan Joseph all played for Vrabel. Texans Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel coached Vrabel back in his playing days.
“As a defense, we have to get back to doing what we do,” said Cornerback Johnathan Joseph. “Obviously we can’t give up that many points in a ball game. Playing the Titans.. they’re a division opponent, we know each other really well having Vrabe here. I think for us, we have to eliminate big plays,” said Joseph.
“He's a competitive guy, he's a smart guy, he's a hard worker. I feel like he'll approach coaching the same way and it shows,” said Crennel. “We've been able to bounce back and when we lose a game, we can come back and end up winning one, winning a big game. So, hopefully that will occur on Sunday, that we're able to do that, but wishing that it will happen doesn't make it happen.”
“Vrabel is doing a great job coaching them,” said Safety Justin Reid. “We’ll be up for the challenge.”
Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly sees Deshaun Watson as one of the most consistent in the NFL. “Whether it's a good game or a bad game, or whatever it may be, he always comes in the next day basically with the ability to learn from yesterday, both the good things and the bad things, and really move forward and understand what he has to do in order to take the next step,” said Kelly.
GETTING OFF TO A SOLID START WILL BE CRUCIAL
The other key to win? Getting a quick start. In their loss to the Broncos, the Texans did experience an offensive spark, but it was way too late. Getting ahead early will make all the difference.
“That’s something that we’ve stressed throughout the season; starting fast and being able to get ahead,” said Linebacker Zach Cunningham.
“We have to go out and we have to perform, and we've got to do a good job at the line of scrimmage against the line, against the running back, and in the passing game, because they're going to throw the ball because that keeps a defense off balance,” said Crennel.
“You always want to throw the first punch and throw the last punch,” said Reid. “I learned that in college. Throw the first punch and the last punch.”
Now, this team will try to throw the final punches of the season.