Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Texans


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans and Texans are both in desperate need of a win.
The Titans (1-5) have lost five straight, while the Texans (2-5) have dropped three of four, including a lopsided loss to the Dolphins on Sunday.
This weekend, something has to give.
This week I caught up with John McClain, who covers the Texas for the Houston Chronicle. You can follow McClain on Twitter at @McClainonNFL.
** looks back at the all-time series against the Houston Texans. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)

Wyatt:The Texans fell behind the Dolphins 41-0 before losing 44-26, and they've had some distractions during the course of the week already with quarterback Ryan Mallett being released. Is this a good time or bad time for the Titans to face the Texans?
McClain:This is the best time the Titans could be facing the Texans because the Texans have lost five games, and they've trailed big in games. *They not only trailed 41-0 in Miami, they trailed 42-0 at Atlanta. For whatever reason they are slow starters. And right now they are being criticized in Houston as much as I've seen any Texans or Oilers team because people had high expectations. They have a lot of things wrong on both sides of the ball, so I would think this would be the ideal time to play the Texans.*

Wyatt: Everyone knows the history between these two teams, and the Titans franchise. How much of a rival are the Titans to the Texans in the minds of the fans in Houston?
McClain: To me, to be a rivalry you have to be good, and these teams are bad. It's hard to have a rivalry when you're bottom feeders. When Andre Johnson was taking on Cortland Finnegan, and when Kerry Collins was fumbling and the Texans were pulling out a win in Nashville, and there were fights and players getting kicked out and fined and suspended, now that was a rivalry. But that was a while ago. I don't believe they've really had the rivalry they should considering the history, because neither team has been good at the same time.

Wyatt: The Texans lost running back Arian Foster for the season against the Dolphins. How big of a blow is that injury, and who will lead the Texans on the ground?
McClain: Arian Foster came back from a groin surgery and played four games, and he didn't have a 100-yard game. Then he blew out his Achilles and he's done for the season, and I believe he's done with the Texans. He leaves behind Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes. Even with Foster they averaged 3.4 yards per carry, which is among the worst in the league. Now I figure it will be even worse because they'll be a running back by committee. We don't know how good they are or how good they can be, really, because the offensive line has done such a poor job of run blocking.

Wyatt: Let's look at the defense. Defensive lineman J.J. Watt continues to be productive, with six sacks in seven games. How have the Texans been up front?
McClain: Watt has been getting double-teamed by everybody. When Jadeveon Clowney plays the right side, Watt stays on the left side most of the time. The one game Clowney was out, Watt was able to move up and down the line. They don't like to put both of them together. Clowney is coming off the best game of his career (1 sack vs Dolphins), and Watt (2 sacks) is coming off his best game of the season. But they still can't stop anybody running the ball up the middle.

Wyatt: OK, John. The Colts are just 3-4 this season, so the AFC South remains there for the taking. Can the Texans or Jaguars, both with a 2-5 record, or the Titans at 1-5, make a run and win it?
McClain: Based on the way the Colts have played – they're 1 and 4 with Andrew Luck, and 2 and 0 with Matt Hasselbeck – anybody that gets hot is capable of overtaking the Colts. I am stunned they are as bad as they are with Luck, but considering their distractions and their off-the-field issues, they seem to be in danger of imploding.

Wyatt: So who wins the division?
McClain: Jacksonville – because they have the most recent win in the division. They beat Buffalo for the most recent victory. Maybe it will be a four-way tie decided by tiebreakers.


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