Dec 10, 2012; Foxborough, MA USA; Houston Texans offense during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

"The Other Eleven" Week 1 Opponent: Houston Texans: The Offense

With the Chargers set to open Training Camp this week, football is in the air. While most of us including me self cannot wait until kickoff in September, I started looking to the future and began studying our opponents for this upcoming season. This will be the first of a weekly segments entitled “The Other Eleven”. Each article will be broken into two parts,one evaluating the offense and the other the defense of our 16 opponents throughout the season. I’ m sick of waiting already, let’s dive into it!!!!!

Our Week 1 opponent…the Houston Texans. One of the most talented rosters in the NFL, the Texans finished in the upper portion of every major statistical category last year. With a 12-4 record in the 2012 season, the Texans will open 2013 as one of the favorites to go to the Super Bowl. Needless to say the Chargers will have a huge test to overcome in their season opener.

The Texans offense runs right through running back Arian Foster. Since 2010 Foster has led all running backs in scrimmage yards (5,702) and touchdowns (49). The last time that Foster faced off against the Chargers, he carried the ball 27 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Foster will look hit the ground running and start the 2013 season the same way he finished 2012. 

Why this is important: The Chargers were 6th in the league in rushing yards allowed last season. However key departures on the defensive line (Antonio Garay, Abrayu Franklin and Vaughn Martin) will mean that the Chargers will have a much different look to their defensive line and an even greater responsibility for new, young players to step up and make plays.

Foster’s production however can not be possible without the big boys he has blocking for him. In 2012, three players from the Texans offensive line (left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Wade Smith and center Chris Meyers) were all voted to the Pro Bowl. However, as one of the best O-Lines in the league it does have one glaring weakness. The right side of the line lacks stability. Two of the right tackles that rotated during the regular season will be entering 2013 after season ending injuries Rashad Butler from season ending triceps injury and a knee surgery to Derek Newton. Texans third round pick Brennan Williams, who had a great shot to compete for the starting  job, tweaked his knee in OTA’s and had his knee scoped. The right tackle job is Houston’s biggest weakness but possibly the Chargers biggest advantage.

Why this is important: The Chargers need to get more pass rush from their outside linebackers. The Chargers lost Shaun Phillips and Antwan Barnes to free agency and the bigger blow that followed was second year linebacker Melvin Ingram going down to injury in OTA’s. However, Dwight Freeney was brought in and signed to do one thing and one thing only, get after the quarterback! In the 11 years that Freeney has been in the league, the one team that he has had the most sacks against in his career (15 ½) has come against the Houston Texans. Freeney played his entire career in Houston’s division he knows them well. He will need to make an immediate impact on the questionable right side of Texans offensive line in order to pressure quarterback Matt Schaub. I believe that this is one of the key factors to the game and one of the best chances the Chargers have to secure a win.

Finally the last and possibly most improved aspect of the Texans offense…the wide receiving corps. Of course this unit begins with Andre Johnson. Johnson earned himself another trip to the Pro Bowl in 2012, racking up 112 catches for 1,598 yards. However, he only found the end zone FOUR times last season. Johnson, who just turned 32, needed another wide receiver opposite him in order to avoid constant double teams. In the 2013 draft, Johnson got some help in the form of 1st round pick DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans have already penciled in Hopkins as the starter opposite  Johnson and expect him to stretch the field and force opposing defenses into more single coverage formations. With the weapons the Texans have on the outside, their TE Owen Daniels cannot be overlooked in the middle. Matt Schaub will look to maximize the offense’s potential with his crop of weapons.

Why this is important: The Chargers secondary unit got perhaps just as big a makeover as its offensive line. Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason departed in free agency and will be replaced by third year corner Shareece Wright and free agent acquisition Derek Cox. Cox will see a familiar face across the line in Johnson as he has been staring him down his whole career in Jacksonville. In the last two years, Cox has allowed only 56.4 percent of the passes thrown his direction to be completed. Of those passes completed, only ONE has gone for a touchdown! Cox will need to lock down Johnson in order for his teammates to contain the faster Hopkins. Donald Butler and Rookie second round pick Manti Te’o will have to be responsible for covering any formations that will be coming over the middle. The Chargers finished last season 18th overall against the pass. In my opinion they will have to put up a better performance than that if they want to slow this offense down.

For PART II of this segment of “THE OTHER ELEVEN“, we will look to see how the Chargers offense matches up with the Texans defense.

Bolt so Hard

By Jake Hefner

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Tags: Houston Texans San Diego Chargers

  • Stefanie Smith

    Key departures. So true. I still get a headache wondering why that was Telesco’s move. He let way too many walk out the door.

    • AJ

      Youth movement, rebuild, what ever you want to call it, you need to see the big picture. These “key departures” were only average at best NFL players. Why hang on to them and their veteran salaries if we have some young talent waiting in the wings. We didn’t win with those KEY DEPARTURES in the line up last year, so why hang on to them. They were expendable

      • Stefanie Smith

        AJ, are you Pete? lol. Why because they are young, does one assume they are talented? They really haven’t done much to be called talent. It’s really a roll of the dice to a point.

        There are stories all over the NFL Network about rookies from the 2011 and 2012 sort of turning out to be duds or injury prone or getting suspended, etc. So our “talent” waiting in the wings for a start is a gamble. And we didn’t win with the young talent last year either.

        • arnie

          Young guys:
          Reyes 28 tackles 5 sacks
          Liuget 51 tackles 7 sacks
          Thomas 20 tackles 6 assists
          Old guys:
          Garay 20 tackles 1 sack 9 assists
          Martin 19 tackles 1 sack 7 asists 1 forced fumble
          Franklin 20 tackles 4 assists

          The difference here. Cam started in 4 games to equal Franklins output for 9 games started. Reyes, in 3 starts out produced Martin, who stared in 12 games, and produced “less”. Garay started 8 games and still couldn’t do more than 20 tackles?

          So i don’t understand what you mean by it’s a “gamble”, for our “waiting in the wings talent”? The evidence is clear.

        • Peter Thompson

          C’Mon Stef. You know I don’t make fake profiles (clearly). I am all out in the open. But, since you brought it up… Just because I have been watching lackadaisical football for years, doesn’t mean I have to like it. This change should have happened before the players that Arnie mentioned even had an opportunity to cash a check on Diego’s dime. They were lack-luster at best.

          • Stefanie Smith

            You’re the best, Pete. I was kidding about thinking you were AJ.

          • Peter Thompson

            OK, cool. I was like “Fake Profile”.. What? Hahahaha… I don’t even make one for the Raider trolls, and I use my real name! Franklin was a solid player for us, so I am bummed he left. Having said that, I can’t WAIT for M&M to put 342 lb. / 6’5 Kwame Geathers in there when Manning thinks he is going to try a QB sneak, or they think they are going to pound it up the middle…. lol.

      • Gunnar Martin

        Totally with you on that one AJ.

  • arnie

    Jake, i’m not worried about the front seven, I actually feel great about the D-line. The loss of Franklin, Garay, and Martin, are minimal at best. While they recieved the bulk of the snaps, there numbers were pedestrian.
    Thomas an Reyes have shown they are a much needed upgrade at the respective positions. Ryes an Luiget combined for 12 sacks an 78 tackles

    • Jake Hefner

      I agree with you 100 percent I think that our defensive line has unlimited potential. So excited to see what the youngsters will bring to the table in thier second and third seasons. Great points

  • Gunnar Martin

    We’re screwed.

  • geapetto, florentini

    I agree with moving on from garay and martin, but yall are crazy if you think we won’t miss franklin! U got 2 undrafted rookies fillin in at NT if cam gets injured guys! Plus cam has never went 4qtrs so you don’t know how hes gonna handle the work. Not happy about that move by TT. One of the most important pieces in a 34 is the NT. That being said I am interested to see how jerideu and geathers perform in PS.

  • Alter Ego

    I love the fact that we open up the season with one of the league’s best teams.
    The advantage we have will be “what the hell” will the Bolts do on offense this year. The Texans will be the first to find out without any game tape to study.
    Our defense across the board makes me excited. The Texans will be the coming out party…I think the match up bodes very well for us. A national audience is going to witness a dismantling of Shaub and containment of Foster.

  • Preston Niedert

    As warren sapp said the front and back work togather. And the back meaning the secondry is going to be a issue with lack of depth and Injuries. The front looks good it’s the back that is a Major issue. And don’t even get me started on the oline is a work in progress. The chargers might go 8-8 or 4-12 you get my point.

    • Ernie Padaon

      So we should be like a mullet… Business in the front, party in the back!