One Day Later: Defense Pays One of Their Debts With Details
The defense held up late and two of the key defenders explain why
Defense is in the Details
The Texans hadn’t finished the game with defense in over a month. In fact, their defense at the end of games had let them down far more than come through for them. Sunday was a different story.
Not every debt was paid by the defense to C.J. Stroud and the offense, but a good chunk of payment was made.
How did it finally click?
“Just honing in on the details,” linebacker Christian Harris. “Games come down to the last possession, maybe the last two, so just trying to find a way to be more consistent and staying on those details throughout the whole game.”
That sentiment is echoed by one of the defensive line standouts.
“I think it’s just being detailed,” defensive tackle Maliek Collins said. “It’s something that we had trouble with early on and it felt good to come out on the other side of that.”
Trouble might be a bit of an understatement.
The Texans squandered the play-of-the-season from C.J. Stroud to Dalton Schultz at that point in the Falcons game when they let Desmond Ridder march down the field for a field goal.
The Carolina Panthers needed just three points and marched down the field despite having been putrid on offense for most of the season to that point.
Then there was Baker Mayfield’s pass to his tight end that almost won the game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Of course, last week Joe Burrow was smoking before C.J. Stroud and the offense again saved the defense’s day.
There was quite the “amount due” if you will for the defense. Well, they chipped away at some of it with those details.
Christian Harris Playing His Best Ball
It feels like it is all starting to come together for Christian Harris at linebacker. He started the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rough, but then about midway through that contest, he turned it on.
Harris has amassed 12 tackles, three pass deflections, and a tackle for a loss over his last 10 quarters. The stats look solid, but the play has been better. He’s diagnosing plays better. His coverage is tighter. His speed is an appropriately used weapon now arriving before the offense wants him to and as the defense needs him to show up.
The second-year linebacker was delayed in his start to last season due to injury. There were small flashes that gave way to high expectations for this season. Harris was a slow starter but he’s figured it out. He said the defense has dialed in on the “details” of what they need to do and it’s allowed them to play well recently. Harris also said there was more to come from the defense. If he’s right about the defense, and it applies to him as well, the Texans have a solid young player to rely on.
Depth Returns in the Form of a King
The Texans announced they have signed cornerback Desmond King to the practice squad. Yes. That Desmond King.
King was a surprise cut at the end of training camp and played a few games with the Pittsburgh Steelers before ending up back in Houston on Monday. He adds depth to a position that has been deep but could be deeper. King might not play much, but he is a nice player to have just in case something happens to the top four cornerbacks on the roster.
Sunday marks 1st time the Texans (6-4) and the Jaguars (7-3) play a November/December game vs each other when both teams are above .500. (Credit my friend Drew Dougherty for this.)
The magnitude of this game shouldn’t be lost on anyone. The Texans would be the leaders in the AFC South with a win. A loss makes the road to winning the division much more difficult.
DeMeco Ryans has stressed this week is no bigger than any other week. C.J. Stroud mentioned the team wants to be playing their best football this time of year, and if they are, a path to a division crown seems very possible.
Tomorrow is Stroud’s Significant Seven where I break down the seven most important plays from C.J. Stroud’s game against the Cardinals. It’s a great time to upgrade from a free subscription to a premium one!
Houston Football is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.