Tomorrow morning, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue their road tour in Houston to take on the 0-2 Texans in NRG Stadium. This edition of Behind Enemy Lines has a special place for me because Houston (and its suburbs) are my home.
You can bet your ass I’ll be in NRG reppin’ the pewter and red with number 13 on my back. Before we get to gameday, it’s time to take a look at the team the Buccaneers are up against and what they’ll be bringing to the field.
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Ryan Mallett, DeAndre Hopkins, Bill O’Brien
While Ryan Mallett may not necessarily be seen as a weapon of mass destruction, any impact on the offensive side of the ball will have to start with him. Mallett started his career in New England as Tom Brady’s backup, but now he’s finally being given a chance to shine in Houston. His performance has been dull at best, but his talent is undeniable.
A large part of Mallett’s air attack will rely on third-year talent DeAndre Hopkins, who is recovering from a concussion. Hopkins is currently listed as probable to play, and he’ll easily get the most focus from the secondary and be the safety blanket Mallett hopes to have.
Meanwhile, much of the success from the Texans offense could rely on the gameplan put together by head coach Bill O’Brien. Coming from the turnaround of a Penn State program that was in dire straits, O’Brien has a proven track record as an offensive minded coach and will be looking to replicate the success that Ken Whisenhunt had in week one.
Bastions of Defense: J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, Jadeveon Clowney, Vince Wilfork
I’ll skip over the first one for now and start with Brian Cushing. Since being drafted 15th Overall by Houston in the 2009 draft, Cushing has been a staple on defense. In recent years, Cushing has been overshadowed by…someone else. Despite that, he’s a consistent force at inside linebacker.
Also at linebacker is (sort-of) rookie Jadeveon Clowney. Technically Clowney is in his second year, but he never got off the ground last year due to injuries. He’s a dynamic player who was being touted as a once-in-a-lifetime talent during the draft. Clowney will be looking to return to his college form by making plays against a shaky offensive line and a rookie quarterback.
Vince Wilfork might be a washed up, 33-year-old, ex-Patriot with 10 years in the league, but he’s also a perennial Pro-Bowl, 2-time Super Bowl Champion, 325-pound nose tackle. Even if you believe that Bill Belichick never releases players that can still play, that’s a whole lotta man to anchor a defensive line.
Without J.J. Watt, the Texans have a formidable defense. With him, they have the defensive nightmares are made of. Jameis Winston is a competitor, and he’s excited to face the kind of mythical man-beast that is J.J. Watt. As a fan, I’m terrified of what he will do to our offensive line and could do to our quarterback. Every single time you snap the ball, Watt could make it a turnover. That’s just who he is.
While you can definitely instill instantaneous fear with the Texans’ defense, their collective offensive ineptitude has kept them from prolonged success for a long time. The defense has kept them within one touchdown of victory for two weeks straight, but both haven’t ended the way Houston (or its fans) wanted. The Buccaneers looked great last week, but all bets are off when Watt takes the field.