Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At San Diego Chargers
- QuarterbackThe Texans have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and would like to go a lot further in 2013. Matt Schaub has proven to be an excellent regular-season quarterback. He plays with a sense of calm and patience and he will not force throws into coverage. Schaub threw for 4,008 yards and 22 TDs last year.The Chargers hired Mike McCoy to help turn the franchise around. One of the most important things he must do is get Philip Rivers back on track. While Rivers can go on a hot streak and rally a team, he often struggles with interceptions and forcing the ball into coverage. Rivers threw 26 TD passes last year and 15 interceptions.
- OffenseThe Texans have one of the most versatile offenses in the league when everyone is healthy. Arian Foster (back) is supposed to be in the lineup for this game, but he may be somewhat slowed. Wide receiver Andre Johnson has the size and strength to make big plays by running out of tackles after he catches the ball. Tight end Owen Daniels has the hands and determination to make first-down catches on third downs.The running attack could take some of the pressure off of Rivers and lessen his tendency to force throws into coverage. Ryan Matthews is a hard-nosed back who will get extra yards after contact while Ronnie Brown can catch the ball out of the backfield. Tight end Antonio Gates is no longer a breakaway threat but he can still make tough catches on third-down plays.
- DefenseThe Texans have some weak spots, but they can be covered up by the pass-rush ability and spectacular talent of defensive end J.J. Watt. He had 20.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries last year. The return of Brian Cushing at the linebacker spot will make the Texans tougher against the run. Strong safety Danieal Manning is one of the hardest hitters at his position in the league.The Chargers seemed to improve on the defense side of the ball as the 2012 season progressed. They will look to defensive end Cory Liuget to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. Former Indianapolis Colt Dwight Freeney is going to try to prove that he still has the speed to turn the corner and get to the quarterback. FS Eric Weddle is a big hitter.
- Special TeamsThe Texans were ordinary on both punt and kickoff returns last season. Punter Shane Lechler has moved on to the Texans after a stellar career with the Raiders. He averaged 47.2 yards per punt last year.The Chargers got steady play from their special teams last year. Nick Novak took over as the Chargers’ placekicker and he made 18-of-20 FG attempts. Mike Scifres is coming off a solid season in which he averaged 48.3 yards per punt.
The Texans have legitimate Super Bowl aspiration and a very talented team. While they have talent, they will be tested later on in the year by more established teams, but should be able to handle the Chargers fairly easily in the opener. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor