Monday, October 17, 2011
What I think they're thinking (or should be)
By Paul Kuharsky
What I think they're thinking, or should be, in the headquarters of the four teams of the AFC South…
We’ve got to get it together. This inability to put together a 60-minute effort against quality teams is an issue that’s got to stop now. Maybe we get Andre Johnson back this week, but we can’t count on it and we can’t count on him coming back curing our issues. We’ve not run the ball well in the past two weeks and we’ve not played well enough in the second halves. The clutch plays are coming from the other team and we can’t let ourselves fall further into the pattern. We’re all about trying to go 1-0 each week. If we can do it this week, next Monday will be a lot more positive, because we will have taken over first place. If we can’t do it this week, we’ll have a losing record and the pressure gauge will rise substantially.
Early on, we could pin our problems on our quarterback situation. Now we are getting steady play from Curtis Painter but finding other ways to lose. We’re in games in the fourth quarter, but we don’t look like a collection of guys who have been in the playoffs before. When Peyton Manning is in the huddle, we find ways to win games at the end. Without him, we’ve consistently found ways to lose. It’s really embarrassing and it stinks to have NFL fans thinking that each of us is a much lesser player when we take the field minus our best guy. Now we go to New Orleans. Does our defense really believe we can find a way to stop the Saints, who are likely to bounce back big after losing to Tampa Bay?
Oftentimes we lament the lack of attention we get. But Monday Night Football is about to come to town and we might be better off hiding under a rock. That’s not an option, though. The Ravens are hardly an ideal team for us to end our losing streak against. Blaine Gabbert is going to face his biggest challenge yet by far, and we need to do way, way more to help him. Rashean Mathis rounded us up after the loss in Pittsburgh and talked about how we are on the cusp. It was a good gesture and a good theme, but when it’s delivered by a guy who was flailing around when the defense was having a hard time against the Steelers, it lacks a certain oomph. People will want to bash us being in prime time. Let’s give them a game that shows it's not such a bad thing.
We’re well rested, but we better not be looking at the standings, where we managed to move into first place in the AFC South without playing. We shouldn’t feel like a first-place team based on our most recent effort, that complete dud in Pittsburgh. The Texans are going to be the team we need to get in front of if we’re going to win this division. While they’ve got one more loss than we do, we’ve got a division loss and they don’t. We need to hold serve at home against Houston. We’re beyond overdue for the running game to get going, and it’s going to be hard to win this one with nothing significant out of Chris Johnson.