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Football Outsiders on Houston's defense

9/30/2011

Rivers McCown of Football Outsiders says the Saints did well to take advantage of a Texans’ weak spot last week.

Here's a piece of his review:

[Wade] Phillips has primarily left [Johnathan] Joseph on the left side (offense's right side) of the line of scrimmage. While we don't have accurate coverage numbers from our game charting project just yet, the directional splits tell us that opposing offenses have completed just 47 percent of their passes against the right side on Houston, gaining just 4.1 yards per attempt.

To the middle and the left? It's not quite so rosy, as 64.8 percent of passes are being completed to those areas of the field, with opposing offenses gaining 10.5 yards per attempt. The Texans have made due with journeyman Jason Allen and former first-rounder Kareem Jackson splitting time in base sets on the left side, with safety Glover Quin moving over to cover the slot in the nickel and Troy Nolan taking Quin's normal spot next to [Danieal] Manning. All four of those are holdovers from last season, and while Quin has taken to safety fairly well, the rest of them have shown little improvement from the performances they gave as part of one of the worst pass defenses in the modern era. The more of them an offense can get on the field, the better its chances of completing a pass are.

However, there are some silver linings for the Texans' pass defense after that performance. One is that after the Saints, the only team on the Texans' schedule that can throw anywhere near the same depth of offensive weapons at them is Atlanta.

McCown’s conclusion: The Texans are better defensively, but they are not going to be good enough to stand up to a high-powered offense in the playoffs.

I tend to agree. But let’s not call the Saints’ plan a blueprint for beating Houston. You have to have the kind of people New Orleans has to beat the Texans that way. As McCown says, Atlanta may be able to follow suit. But a lot of teams simply don’t have that personnel.