The bye week is over and the Bills are back to work preparing for the Texans. I got a Q&A set up with Patrick Starr, who writes for the State of Texans. Of course, we talk Mario Williams, the impact of JJ Watts, Andre Johnson's health and Matt Schaub's play. Enjoy and tell a friend.
1) If you were the opposing offensive/defensive coordinator, how would you attack the Texans?
Defensively, the Texans display a real weakness in stopping the run in dime situations as teams have exposed them on the ground in those situations. Against the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans adjusted their dime package for the first time the entire season with Bradie James and Brooks Reed in the middle. It will be interesting to see what Wade Phillips is going to do when the Bills spread it out. If the Bills can get the Texans defense into their dime personnel, I would expect Spiller and Jackson to have decent days.
Against the Texans offense, I would force them to take to the air and sell out against the run. The entire Texans offense is set up off the run game and if the Bills can take away the play action and roll outs from the offense, they can cause some issues. Making Matt Schaub beat you would be a better choice than letting Arian Foster and the offensive line have their way with the defensive front. If Foster gets rolling, the Texans are hard to stop. So, making Schaub beat you would be the best plan of action.
2) Tell me about J.J. Watt, What makes him a special player?
His evolution as a player started at the end of the 2011 season. Watt was a virtual unknown when drafted out of Wisconsin and was instantly plugged into a starting role. Anyone to say they saw this coming from Watt is probably telling a lie, because he is better than advertised. Watt is a genetic freak, but what sets him a part is his mentality of being the best. During training camp, he dislocated his elbow and on the day of the injury, he started rehab to get back on the field. He goes 100% every play and blocking him with one offensive lineman usually plays into the Texans favor. His ability to disrupt on the interior makes everyone else around him that much better.
3) Do you think Matt Schaub is a franchise QB or a game manager?
Matt Schaub, to me, is right in the middle, but a little more to an above average game manager. Schaub can throw it when you need to and looks better than ever throwing the football this season. He is completing over 63% of his passes, but he has protected the ball better. He only has 4 interceptions in 222 pass attempts and two of those came in one game against the Packers. He may not be in the elite category, but he knows this offense inside and out. If he stays healthy, the Texans are pushing for a Superbowl birth.
4) Why has Arian Foster averaging less than 4-yards a carry?
Foster has had a heavier workload this season and with a new right side of the offensive line, it has been tough for him. Throw in an injury riddled season for back up running back Ben Tate, has made Foster the main ball carrier. He really hasn't broken any big runs this season and for some odd reason, Foster has been slipping more than usual when he tries to plant and get up field. There are plenty of factors in his low average, but with the Texans having so many big leads, the team will go conservative and let Foster run three straight times for little yardage while defenses are keying on him, which doesn't help out his average.
5) Tell me everything there is to know about Mario Williams. Did fans like him in Houston? Did you feel he wasn't liked because they picked him over Vince Young? Was he a diva? Why does he seem to get his sacks in bunches? Was he treated unfairly? There is so much drama surrounding Mario right now in Buffalo.
We talked about Mario Williams when the Bills signed him in the off season, but there seems to be more heat on him in Buffalo than he ever had here in Houston. That comes with the type of contract he signed. He has shown he can produce when needed and did it here in Houston when he made two Pro Bowls and lead the franchise in sacks. Williams was the only real defensive player in a bottom of the barrel defense. Last season, he was on pace for a monster season before he got hurt.
People have a bad outlook on Williams because he was supposed to produce astronomical numbers for being the number one overall pick. Now, the Texans picked right and still got a franchise defensive end, but he never met those crazy expectations. He is well liked by his former teammates and a portion of the fan base, but to see what is happening in Buffalo with him is not surprising. Fans and media didn't poke at him too much because he was playing injured and actually was one of the few good players on the team. Now the ante has been upped in Buffalo and it seems the fan base has the same expectations fans in Houston had of him.
I am convinced the Bills will see a new Williams this Sunday, even with his cast on his hand. Mario wants this game. He's the type of player that will want prove to the Texans that they shouldn't have gotten rid of him. I expect a productive game for Williams this coming weekend.
6) Why has Wade Phillips been so instrumental in helping your defense?
Wade Phillips has been a blessing of sorts for the franchise. He's been able to turn a terrible defense into one of the tops in the league. He is the mastermind behind the calls but his defensive coaches in Bill Kollar (Defensive Line), Reggie Herring (Linebackers) and Vance Joseph (Defensive Backs) are what makes the defense tick. The assistant coaches are in your face and know what to get out of their players. Mix that in with Phillips quiet demeanor and you have a good match.
Phillips is like a second head coach on the field and takes so many decisions off of Head Coach Gary Kubiak's plate, so he can just concentrate on the offense. He has brought a new attitude to the team and the Houston fan base have fallen in love with Phillips.
7) How has Andre Johnson rebounded from last year's injury prone season? Has he lost a step since he's going on year 10 in the NFL?
Johnson has looked healthy and yes, he has lost a step. However, that is expected for a 10 year veteran like him. He still commands the double team and the offense has made a bigger effort in getting him the football the past two games. Having him on the field alone makes the offense dangerous because he has shown he can still go vertical. Although, he has been catching the football underneath more this season, but getting him the football is probably the most important part for the Texans' offense because keeping him involved makes the running game and Matt Schaub that much better.
8) Is there an unknown player or two the Bills have to look out for?
On offense, the spotlight falls on the right tackle rotation of Derek Newton and Ryan Harris and how they are going to handle Mario Williams this week. Newton is a second year pro -who won the right tackle position out of camp- while Harris was a signing at the beginning of the season to help push Newton.
As for the defense, keep an look out for outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who led the team in sacks in 2011. Barwin has gotten off to a slow start, but has come to life the past two games and finally registered his first sack of the season against the Ravens. He is a big key for the Texans and getting him going is a good sign for the team heading into the second half of the season.