Friday, September 13, 2013
Three matchup questions for Titans-Texans
By Paul Kuharsky
Three matchup questions I have as I consider the Tennessee Titans game Sunday at the Houston Texans.
1. Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner and Coty Sensabaugh will all have a role in trying to slow down receiver Andre Johnson, who looked excellent against the Chargers on Monday night. Most of the time, a defensive back wants to get his hands on the receiver early to throw things off. But McCourty said there are times when Johnson wants a corner to jam him, because it sets him up for short routes. “Sometimes it works as an advantage and sometimes, with his strength, he uses it against you,” McCourty said. “Sometimes you have to lay off. You have to mix it up. He can be running a slant and let you get your hands on you and grab you and throw you by.”
2. As a member of the Bills, Titans left guard Andy Levitre played against Houston lineman Antonio Smith a year ago. Smith didn’t play in the opener after a suspension for a preseason incident with Richie Incognito. Smith will spend a lot of time trying to get past Levitre, but the Texans move people around up front, in part to prevent blockers from gaining any sort of consistent rhythm. “He’s strong enough to play inside but has still got that quickness of an end,” Smith said. “He’s an active guy, he plays all over the field.” J.J. Watt is the guy everyone is talking about and he’s a big issue for David Stewart, Chance Warmack and the whole line, but let's not forget about Smith.
3. Bernard Pollard was close to the line of scrimmage most of the time in Pittsburgh. The Titans often played Michael Griffin deep in the middle of the field alone. The combination of the Tennessee pass rush, solid coverage by the cornerbacks and minimal downfield threats from the Steelers allowed for that personnel distribution in the secondary. Can the Texans, who know Pollard well as he once played for them, force the Titans to back Pollard off and be more involved in coverage? Play-action passing is a giant piece of the Texans' offense, and Pollard is likely to be tested more.