2014-10-25 Week Eight “Three and Out” - The dilemma has been resolved.  For now. The “Three and Out” series will continue, with three questions and answers for each of the Sunday games, every Sunday until no more Sundays remain in the 2014 regular season. Then, the dilemma will resurface in 2015.  Assuming I — and you — don’t completely forget about this… Pro Football Talk
    2014-10-25 Watt, Texans too powerful for Titans - Houston has holes — particularly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. But the running of Arian Foster and a defense led by J.J. Watt should be enough to cover against a Titans team led by rookie Zach Mettenberger. Las Vegas Review-Journal
    2014-10-25 Watt, Texans too powerful for Titans - Houston has holes — particularly quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. But the running of Arian Foster and a defense led by J.J. Watt should be enough to cover against a Titans team led by rookie Zach Mettenberger. Las Vegas Review-Journal
    2014-10-24 Watch list for Bear Bryant Coach of the Year award released - Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly are just a few on the coaches that were announced to be on the watch list for the 2014 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, the award's sponsors announced Friday.Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and East Carolina's Ruffin McNeill are also among the 20 coaches on the list.A finalist's list consisting of five to 10 coaches will be announced in December with the award's winner being crowned on Jan. 14, 2015. Here's the complete list of coaches that are on the watch list for the coveted award:Art Briles, Baylor UniversityMark Dantonio, Michigan StateJimbo Fisher, Florida StateHugh Freeze, University of MississippiTodd Graham, Arizona StateMark Helfrich, University of OregonDana Holgorsen, West Virginia UniversityDoc Holliday, Marshall UniversityBrian Kelly, University of Notre DameGus Malzahn, Auburn UniversityRuffin McNeill, East Carolina UniversityDan Mullen, Mississippi StateGary Patterson, Texas ChristianBo Pelini, University of NebraskaMark Richt, University of GeorgiaRich Rodriguez, University of ArizonaNick Saban, University of AlabamaBill Snyder, Kansas State UniversityBob Stoops, University of OklahomaKyle Whittingham, University of UtahAuburn's Gus Malzahn won the award, which is voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, last year. Copyright © 2014 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license. theScore NCAA FB
    2014-10-24 "Are you smarter than Ryan Fitzpatrick?" … It's a good thing JJ Watt is incredible along the defensive line. http://t.co/0MmrfCOJaP (VIDEO) - None twitter
    2014-10-24 Three And Out: Useless Predictions For Texans-Titans - The Houston Texans look to get to .500 on Sunday against an AFC South rival in Nashville. Will it happen? One Texans fan dares to memorialize his predictions. Admittedly, I was a bit off last week. I blame Ryan Fitzpatrick. FOR EVERYTHING. Note: I don't really blame Ryan Fitzpatrick for last week. Well, that's not right. I do, but the blame is not his alone. Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins, and Danieal Manning fumbling the way they did (even though Manning didn't technically turn the ball over) were killers, not to mention the indefensible insanity of Bill O'Brien's play-calling at the end of the first half. I don't really want to talk about the Steelers game anymore, as I'm starting to do a weird thing where I weep and bellow at the same time. It's not a good look for me, so let's move on. Three things that are sure to happen on Sunday when your Houston Texans clash with the Tennessee Titans in Nashville: 1. Jadeveon Clowney returns and, though he plays less than 15 snaps, still manages to finish with a sack and a tackle for loss. Not coincidentally, the Texans' pass rush will look more fierce than it has all season. Clowney will not be the only one in on the fun, as J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus also sack Zach Mettenberger Sunday afternoon. 2. Speaking of Mettenberger, the rookie's first NFL start will not be all bad. While he's going to throw an interception, he's also going to have a TD pass of 40+ yards when a receiver gets behind Kareem Jackson and there's no safety help to be had. You can be sure that the BRB live game thread when said long touchdown pass happens will devolve into 294 variations of "Ryan Fitzpatrick can't make that throw! Why isn't Ryan Mallett playing yet?". 3. Speaking of Mallett, you won't get to see him on Sunday. Fitzpatrick will throw an interception, but it will be offset by a touchdown pass and a completion rate north of 60%. The story of the Houston offense, as usual, will be Arian Foster, who will once again break the century mark running the ball and will find the end zone. Bonus prediction--Alfred Blue gets the first rushing touchdown of his career on Sunday. PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: For my money, the Titans are one of the five worst teams in football. Your view may vary. I'm not here to crown the Texans as anything more than mediocre, but this is a game they should win, especially with a rookie making his first start at QB for the Titans. I'm loathe to say any Texans win will be a comfortable one, yet...Texans 24, Titans 10. Texans vs Titans coverage Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-24 Could Ryan Mallett replace Ryan Fitzpatrick in Houston? https://t.co/Vh5UB6rRnD - None twitter
    2014-10-24 Ryan Mallett Ready To Go If Houston Texans Decide To Replace Fitzpatrick At QB - Ryan Mallett is ready for the chance to play if the Houston Texans decide to replacing struggling starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett said he would be ready if coach Bill O’Brien decides to replace starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. “If it happens, it happens,” Mallett said, via the Houston Chronicle. “I’ll be ready. […] Ryan Mallett Ready To Go If Houston Texans Decide To Replace Fitzpatrick At QB - FanSided - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 280+ Sites FanSided NFL
    2014-10-24 Rookie getting his Halloween look on (The Associated Press) - Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger shaved off the beard he's been growing since July on Thursday, grabbing the spare clippers he keeps in his locker after practice. Mettenberger kept a moustache and a soul patch just above his chin, and he wore a red headband, too. Asked if he shaved because he knew the media was coming, Mettenberger said he thought it would a good look for the front page of the local newspaper. His beard had gotten pretty thick and shaggy, but Mettenberger didn't shave just to avoid a beard comparison with Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yahoo Sports - Indianapolis Colts
    2014-10-24 Ryan Mallett: I’ll be ready to start if I’m called on - Texans backup quarterback Ryan Mallett isn’t exactly campaigning to unseat starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. But he says he’ll be ready if that’s what happens. After coach Bill O’Brien said this week that Mallett is putting in work in practice and getting better, Mallett said he’ll be ready to go if O’Brien hands him the ball. “If… Pro Football Talk
    2014-10-24 WATCH: J.J. Watt Plays ‘Are You Smarter Than Ryan Fitzpatrick?’ - It’s probably a good thing that Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt found his calling on the football field. After all, it’s highly doubtful that he would have cut it touring the Uinted States in hopes of making it big in the trivia field. http://sportsnaut.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/19_SmarterThanFitz-2000k.mp4 When posed with the question about who the first human on the Moon was, Watt answered Louis Armstrong. He then caught his mistake before making fun of himself. Watt is such a good guy that he can laugh at himself when he’s making a complete fool of himself in front of the camera. That’s some awesome stuff right there. The name of this clip by NFL.com is titled “Are You Smarter Than Ryan Fitzpatrick?” The good news here for Watt is that not one single player in the league can lay claim to being smarter than the Ivy League grad. Next time Fitzpatrick rattles Watt’s cage about who is smarter, the Defensive Player of the Year candidate should just go ahead and sack him. Those darn pe YardBarker
    2014-10-24 Pro Football Focus: Fitzpatrick’s Texans Supporting Cast Is Actually Pretty Good - Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t have the best supporting cast, but according to Pro Football Focus, what he’s got around him is far from the NFL’s worst. Fitzpatrick’s Houston Texans came in at 12th on the site’s ranking of […] CBS Local
    2014-10-24 Fantasy Football Week 8: Updated Rankings for Sunday's Action - Believe it or not, most fantasy football leagues will already be halfway done after the weekend. And that's just for the lucky managers who make it to the fantasy championships, which usually occur during Week 16. The chances to chalk up wins before the playoffs are dwindling, and Week 8 presents October's last opportunity to wrestle away a victory. These rankings are missing plenty of key players, as the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers already performed on Thursday night. That leaves several managers with one or two less decisions to make for the weekend, while others are now staring at an early deficit. Let's dive into the remaining slate to provide position-by-position fantasy football rankings for Week 8.   Quarterback Since Peyton Manning took the Thursday night shift this week, everyone gets a crack at the top quarterback ranking he often monopolizes throughout the season. Even if these rankings were released on Wednesday, however, Aaron Rodgers would reign supreme as Week 8's No. 1 quarterback. The New Orleans Saints rank No. 28 with 270.5 passing yards allowed per contest. They just relinquished 299 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Matthew Stafford sans Calvin Johnson, and Rodgers shares no such shortage of top wideouts. Jordy Nelson leads the NFC with 47 receptions while Randall Cobb's eight touchdowns tops the conference. Of course, you're starting Rodgers if you own him and cursing the fantasy gods if you're facing him. Tony Romo may not be regarded in such must-start terrain, but he should be. The criminally underrated signal-caller has registered a 69.2 completion percentage, which tops the NFL. Since his three-interception season debut against the San Francisco 49ers, Romo has tossed 13 scores to just three picks, averaging 278.8 passing yards in his past four games. Per ESPN Stats & Info, only Manning has a higher active streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass: Monday night's matchup is also ripe for picking, as Washington is tied with the New York Jets for most fantasy points surrendered to quarterbacks in ESPN leagues. They haven't exactly faced a murderer's row of passers either, having played Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne and Charlie Whitehurst. QB sleeper: Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills (at New York Jets)   Running Back Attention fantasy gamers: Jerick McKinnon demands your attention. Shaking free from Matt Asiata's shadow, the 22-year-old has generated 381 total yards through his past four games. He's done so at an efficient rate, averaging 5.5 yards per carry compared to Asiata's 3.7 over the same stretch. McKinnon is the superior Minnesota Vikings rusher, and it's not particularly close. According to The Associated Press' Dave Campbell, he has the full support of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. "Whenever the ball is in his hand, he's going to make a play. The first guy doesn't usually bring him down in the open field," Bridgewater said. "He's a guy who's very exciting to watch and very exciting to be in the backfield with. He's going to do some great things for this team." Campbell also noted that McKinnon ranks third with 2.6 yards per carry after contact with 6.8 yards per run up the middle. Both are phenomenal signs from a 5"9" back cast as a speedster, so Minnesota has no excuse to keep using the bigger Asiata in goal-line work. He should continue to pry away most of Minnesota's touches, and fantasy owners will hope that transition develops this weekend. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rank No. 25 in rushing defense, and McKinnon could pull double duty as a pass-catcher against the NFL's worst passing defense. Start the newcomer with confidence. RB Sleeper: Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints (vs. Green Bay Packers)   Wide Receiver All Sammy Watkins needed was a quarterback change to springboard from fringe flex play to top-10 wideout given the right matchup. Take at look at what the rookie has accomplished in three games with Kyle Orton under center and consider that the New England Patriots employ Darrelle Revis at cornerback: Just like that, Watkins is now pushing for 1,000 receiving yards during his rookie campaign. While EJ Manuel frequently targeted the highly-touted first-round pick, the duo successfully connected on an inefficient 17 of 32 targets.  The New York Jets no longer roster Revis, and they did not locate a suitable replacement to play man coverage. It's important to note Gang Green has endured a brutal schedule where they have ran into Rodgers, Manning, Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, so maybe the secondary deserves some slack. But Watkins is too talented to halt those struggles completely on Sunday. Going forward, treat the Buffalo Bills' electric receiver as a starting mainstay. WR Sleeper: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (at New Orleans Saints)   Tight End The top of this list looks awfully thin with Thursday participants Julius Thomas and Antonio Gate ineligible and a hobbled Jimmy Graham playing limited snaps. That makes Greg Olsen an elite option against the Seattle Seahawks, who have already surrendered eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Later on the board, Jordan Reed and Owen Daniels are both juicy options to play against vulnerable opponents. Reed gets the Dallas Cowboys, who have yielded a league-high 50 receptions to tight ends along with seven touchdowns. Daniels get the Cincinnati Bengals, whose 609 yards tops the leaderboard versus the position. After a hamstring injury cost him a month, Reed has returned strong with 13 catches for 146 yards. Considering the 26 targets sent Niles Paul's way in his absence, Reed would probably be appraised shortly outside the top five tight ends had he remained healthy. Health has rarely helped Owen Daniels in the past, and it's rearing its ugly head again. The 31-year-old did not attend the Baltimore Ravens' practice yesterday with a knee ailment, per the team's official Twitter account: If he suits up, Daniels is a starting play given a strong matchup and his prominence since Dennis Pitta went down for the season. The veteran has stockpiled 205 receiving yards in the last four games, scoring a touchdown last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Monitor his status heading into Sunday and start him if he's a go. TE Sleeper: Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. Baltimore Ravens)   Defense Even in the Jacksonville Jaguars' first winning effort of the season, Blake Bortles fired three interceptions and got sacked twice. Leading the way with 15 giveaways and 29 sacks, Jacksonville remains a primary source of fantasy points for its opposition. Otherwise a fringe option, the Miami Dolphins catapult to a must-start. Yet most fantasy managers know that. If you're too late to scoop up Miami, aim for the Kansas City Chiefs, who sport the NFL's second-best passing defense despite having encountered Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. Although the St. Louis Rams are riding high after upsetting the Seattle Seahawks, they have yielded the third-most fantasy points to opposing defenses in ESPN standard-scoring formats. They're not last year's touchdown-scoring juggernaut, but the Chiefs are a solid Week 8 play nonetheless. D Sleeper: Baltimore Ravens (at Cincinnati Bengals)   Kicker Chandler Catanzaro has converted all 15 field-goal attempts during his inaugural season. If he makes his first try on Sunday, he'll set a new rookie record for most consecutive makes to start a career. While he's nailed just one 50-plus yarder, he's displayed superb mid-range accuracy with five field goals between 40-49 yards. Although the Philadelphia Eagles shut out the New York Giants before enjoying their Week 7 bye, they still possess the No. 24 overall defense. The young kicker, owned in just 17.4 percent of ESPN leagues, should get some chances to boot home a few points for his few fantasy owners. K Sleeper: Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. St. Louis Rams)Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-24 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 8: Choosing Top Fantasy Football Locks and Flops - For all the folks on Twitter/Facebook/in your group text message with friends who say "no one cares about your fantasy team," that's not necessarily true. People care about other people's fantasy teams if and only if it will then allow them to talk about their own fantasy roster. Case in point: Friend asks you if you should sell high on DeMarco Murray. If you do not have DeMarco Murray or an opportunity to acquire Murray, odds are you'll offer some halfhearted advice that's forgotten 10 seconds after it's said. If you own Murray, though? Suddenly you're six adult beverages and two hours deep into a theoretical conversation, poring over historical trends for high-usage running backs. I bring this up because not all fantasy football articles, like conversations, are created equal. For one-size-fits-all conversations, analysts have our weekly rankings where every relevant player is put into a position-by-position order. By their very nature, start 'em, sit 'em columns are different. They're meant to highlight small advantages we see that others might not. Meaning, some may read through and not see a player relevant to their team. That's OK; it just means you'll have to sift through rankings to decide whether Jerick McKinnon or Anthony Dixon should start for you this week. (It's McKinnon.) For everyone else, though, let's take a look at the most glaring market inefficiencies from which to reap rewards.   Quarterback: Start Carson Palmer Over Andy Dalton, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler Yep. We've reached this part of proceedings. Where Carson Palmer, lord of the wobbly eight-yard out route that gets returned for a pick-six, gets thrown into lineups over three guys whose franchises have deemed them worthy of leading a Super Bowl team. Palmer, though he's been limited to three games due to injuries, has been excellent when in the lineup. He's thrown with just enough arm strength and velocity to execute Bruce Arians' offense, while mixing in a heaping pile of underneath throws to running backs. After consecutive six-catch weeks, Andre Ellington has two fewer targets on the season than Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. It's hard to argue with the results. Palmer is completing his highest percentage of passes (66.1) in nearly a decade and has gone 112 pass attempts with a single interception. While there is some mean regression coming—Palmer is a regular in the three-plus percent interception rate—it's unlikely to come against Philadelphia. The Eagles have picked off only three passes this season. Meanwhile, Dalton, Ryan and Cutler are all going through their own respective nightmares.  Dalton is learning what life would be like without A.J. Green. It's not so great. Dalton's receivers dropped a ton of passes and he was abysmal himself in last week's loss to the Colts, throwing for 126 yards on 38 attempts without a touchdown or interception. Green is unlikely to play this week, and with the Bengals hosting a red-hot Baltimore defense, it's hard to expect much production from Dalton. Ryan appears stuck on another Atlanta team heading for double-digit losses. Julio Jones and Roddy White are back in the lineup at full health, but the Falcons get zero help from their rushing game and are constantly losing the time of possession game due to their defense. Ryan has thrown for only one touchdown each of the last three weeks. Cutler, it appears, has a near-mutiny on his hands. The Bears had a tense postgame incident following last week's loss to the Dolphins, with Brandon Marshall apparently ripping everyone from Cutler to Robbie Gould a new one. Cutler and Marshall have a longstanding relationship so it's unlikely any of this carries over, but Marshall's frustrations are not without warrant. Expected to have one of the NFL's best offenses, Chicago has struggled with consistency and Cutler's turnover-prone ways have come back at the worst time. Things won't get any easier with the Bears headed to New England this week. It's a risk, but I'd start Palmer over all three guys.   Start Lamar Miller over Giovani Bernard and Alfred Morris Anyone who owned Lamar Miller last season probably just recoiled in horror. Taken on average midway through the third round in 2013, Miller was viewed as a potential breakout candidate. In the end, the only things he broke were records for inducing anger management classes. Miller finished with 709 yards and two touchdowns, and when the Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno, it appeared we were done with him for good. Whoopsie. Two injuries, including a season-ending ACL tear, to Moreno later and Miller has reentered fantasy relevance. He has scored four touchdowns over his last three games, in the process more than doubling his career total. Despite beginning the season as a backup and playing in one fewer game than most running backs, he's 10th at the position in fantasy points coming into Week 8. Miller, like it or not, has emerged as an every-week start. Also sitting comfortably within every-week start status are Bernard and Morris, who are plenty good at football in their own right. Bernard hasn't been especially productive as a runner, but he's been used enough as a receiver and has four touchdowns. Morris had a blazing start to the season where it looked as if it wouldn't matter whether it was Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins or Daffy Duck playing quarterback. At issue with Morris and Bernard are their recent downward trends. Morris has 12 fantasy points in the last three weeks total, averaging a robust 2.8 yards per carry in the process. Bernard has done a little better by virtue of having the Carolina Panthers on his schedule, but struggled against Baltimore on the ground in Week 1 and is coming off a seven-carry, 17-yard outing against Indy. The pair are also suffering through injuries, with Bernard limited by his ribs and Morris hobbled by an ankle injury last week. With the Bengals offense all over the place and Washington consigned to starting Colt McCoy at quarterback Sunday—seriously, Colt McCoy! In 2014!—it's hard to trust either guy. In the weird situation where you'd have Miller and Morris/Bernard, swallow hard and go with the hot hand.   Wide Receiver: Start Doug Baldwin Over Andre Johnson Following the controversial Percy Harvin trade, Baldwin is as close to a No. 1 receiver as Seattle has. The former undrafted free agent had seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown in last week's loss to St. Louis, with his 10 targets being four more than any other pass-catcher. Even before the Harvin trade, Baldwin was already challenging his high-priced counterpart for the top spot. Harvin and Baldwin were separated in targets by one; Baldwin was close to doubling Harvin's yards per catch rate; and Russell Wilson seemed to trust him more in high-priority situations. The Seahawks aren't suddenly going to undergo an offensive overhaul, so Baldwin's upside is still limited. Seattle is 29th in passing yards per game, and while that's not an accurate assessment of Wilson, it is instructive of Pete Carroll's preferred playing style. Only Houston, which employs Ryan Fitzpatrick, throws the ball fewer times per game than the Seahawks. Which, as a segue that was not whatsoever contrived, leads us to Andre Johnson, the future Hall of Famer who can't seem to catch a break. Johnson's unhappy offseason has morphed into what could be the worst full season of his career. The All-Pro has 39 receptions for 496 yards and a lone touchdown so far, failing to make a reception longer than 26 yards. Fitzpatrick acknowledged that he needs to do a better job of getting Johnson the ball after Monday's loss to Pittsburgh. “My job is to get the ball to our play-makers and I didn’t get it to Andre nearly enough early,” Fitzpatrick told reporters. “It’s just one of those deals, I’ve got to continue as I progress to continue to get better, continue to throw the ball to the right guy and making sure everybody is on the same page.” Houston travels to Tennessee this week, so it's a risk sitting any Texans player. It'd be much more advisable to start Baldwin over the likes of Reggie Wayne, Roddy White or Marques Colston if the option is available. In this specific instance, I'm backing my 17th-ranked player over my 18th. Fingers crossed.   Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter All fantasy stats via ESPNRead more NFL news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-24 RTC: Ryan Fitzpatrick knows he can do better - Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans... Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick knows he can do better, writes Kristie Rieken of The Associated Press. "I know I can do better," he said. "Some of it mentally, some of it physically, but my thing is just continuing to get better every week, continuing to understand the offense better, continuing to run it at a faster pace and mentally speeding everything up." John McClain of the Houston Chronicle provides his perspective on Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney's comments from Thursday, and on the potential battle between Clowney and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan. ESPN - Houston Texans
    2014-10-24 Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans: Complete Week 8 Preview for Houston - Will He or Won't He Play with Jadeveon Clowney My guess is that first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will play, but he'll probably be limited. Much like how Aldon Smith was used by the San Francisco 49ers during his rookie season, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel indicated that Clowney might be limited to playing only as a rusher in passing situations. When Clowney returns, #Texans will use him on third downs to rush the passer, Romeo Crennel says. — Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 23, 2014 Jadeveon Clowney says he would be surprised if he didn't play this weekend vs Titans. #Texans — Daniel Gotera (@DTGoteraKHOU) October 23, 2014 The skill of getting after the quarterback is obviously what led to his selection, but everyone would like to see him on first and second down as well. However, why would the team want to rush him back? The team and its fans have wanted to see someone like Clowney raise hell for 10 years or more, so risking the long term for one game against the Tennessee Titans would be shortsighted. I'm not saying they should baby him, but there's no reason to rush him back if he's not ready. This isn't a playoff team, so the future is more important than Week 8 this year. Brian Cushing Could Be Out for Several Weeks There seems to be some confusion as to if or how long Brian Cushing will be out, but I'd be surprised if he plays again before the game against the Cleveland Browns after the bye week.  O'Brien said there isn't any accuracy to @ProFootballTalk report about Brian Cushing being out vs. #Titans and likely out through bye week. — Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) October 23, 2014 BRIAN CUSHING @HoustonTexans current L knee issues will not be solved with one week rest. Likely cartilage issue, at best return after bye. — David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) October 24, 2014 If you watch him play for one series, it's obvious that something isn't right. He lacks any of the explosion he had before. His change of direction and lateral movement seem several steps slower than before, and he doesn't get off blocks as well, which could be due to a lack of lower-body power with a knee injury. Sigh. #Texans https://t.co/pFzHzgFPfr — PDS (@PatDStat) October 21, 2014 According to STATS Ice, the leaders at LB in “missed tackles” are: 1. Brian Cushing (7), 2. Nate Irving (7), 3. Julius Peppers (7) — Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) October 21, 2014 The Texans can defeat the Titans without Cushing; they've already defeated three other bad teams when he might as well have been sitting out because of how poorly he played. Don't Hold Your Breath While Waiting on Ryan Mallett to Start We can ask, plead and beg, but Bill O'Brien isn't going to start Ryan Mallett anytime soon. Bill O'Brien says Ryan Mallett is much improved but Ryan Fitzpatrick is the Texans QB. Offensive problems are not to be blamed on one person — Drew Shirley Sports (@DrewShirleyKHOU) October 21, 2014 To some extent Coach O'Brien is right; the Texans' issues are more than just one position. Taking it one step further, the Texans are more than just a good quarterback away from being a great team. Considering how they have struggled to protect the passer at times and how slow Mallett is in comparison to Fitzpatrick, starting him right now might lead to a short-term disaster. However, as I've pointed out before, the benefit to starting Mallett soon is about the future and not for immediate results. Chances are that Mallett is not the future at the position, but he has a significantly better chance of being that guy than Fitzpatrick. Mallett has the size and arm strength to play the position, is younger than Fitzpatrick and was drafted four rounds earlier. College success or failure doesn't mean much in terms of predicting NFL success, but since Mallett hasn't played yet in the NFL, that's nearly all we have to go on. Speaking of that, I'm tired of hearing about his inexperience as a reason not to play him; all quarterbacks start off with zero starts or snaps. If having zero starts disqualified players from consideration, then how do rookies ever get any playing time? Lack of experience might be worth taking into consideration if Mallett was stepping into a starting role for a playoff contender, but the Texans aren't one. Identifying the strengths, weaknesses and the building blocks for the future should be the more important goal this year than making the playoffs. Reaching and winning playoff games is always the objective, but that goal isn't obtainable this year with this roster. To make that goal more attainable for 2015 and beyond, the Texans have to play their young players at positions where there isn't an established starter. That certainly includes quarterback. Mallett will be a free agent when the season is over; shouldn't the team get a look at him on the field before it has to make the decision to let him walk or offer a new contract? What's the worst-case scenario if Mallett played—maybe a 5-11 record? Would you really remember a 7-9 season with Fitzpatrick that much more fondly than a 5-11 season with Mallett? Of course not—no one will remember in five years, and the two extra losses might get the Texans a better draft pick. If Mallett is a train wreck, then the team can always go back to Fitzpatrick or perhaps even give Tom Savage a shot. Maybe I'm alone on this one, but I see no downside to starting Mallett and no upside to continuing to start Fitzpatrick considering what the goals of this season should be. B/R NFL
    2014-10-24 Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans: Complete Week 8 Preview for Houston - Predicting how the Texans will do from week to week this season has been pretty easy. Whenever they've faced a quarterback equal to or worse than their own quarterback, they've won. Whenever they've faced a team with a better quarterback—Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger—they've lost. This week the Texans will face Zach Mettenberger, who will be making his NFL debut. He may turn out to be a great quarterback, but I don't see any way for a rookie picked in the sixth round with the players he has around him to win his first start. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a liability most weeks, but he could be in for a good game this week facing a Titans defense that ranks 21st in passing yards allowed per game, 20th in passing touchdowns allowed and 21st in passing plays over 20 yards allowed. The Titans have been equally porous against the run with a rank of 22nd and 20th, respectively, in rushing yards allowed per game and rushing touchdowns allowed, so Arian Foster could also be in for a big day. Prediction: Texans 24, Titans 13 Follow me on Twitter for more Texans opinion and analysis: @sackedbybmac B/R NFL
    2014-10-24 Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' - HOUSTON (AP) Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't playing the way he wants to and knows he has to improve to help the Houston Texans get back on track after three straight losses. CSN Houston
    2014-10-24 Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' - Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't playing the way he wants to and knows he has to improve to help the Houston Texans get back on track after three straight losses. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-24 Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' - Ryan Fitzpatrick determined to 'do better' to help Texans vs another former team          USA Today
    2014-10-24 Football Daily Dose: Dose: Sanders Stars on TNF - Jeff Brubach recaps Emmanuel Sanders' big night and breaks down other news and notes from around the NFL in Friday's Daily Dose. Fantasy Football Articles - Rotoworld.com
    2014-10-24 Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' (The Associated Press) - Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't playing the way he wants to and knows he has to improve to help the Houston Texans get back on track after three straight losses. ''Some of it mentally, some of it physically, but my thing is just continuing to get better every week, continuing to understand the offense better, continuing to run it at a faster pace and mentally speeding everything up.'' Though there have been plenty of problems for the Texans, Fitzpatrick has received the lion's share of the criticism for the team's recent struggles. ''You've got to believe and you've got to go out there and play.'' The quarterback is in his first season in Houston after spending last season with the Titans, who the Texans face on Sunday. Fitzpatrick went 3-4 as a starter once Locker's season was done and was focused on doing more after winning the starting job in Houston this offseason. Yahoo Sports - Tennessee Titans
    2014-10-23 NFL Power Rankings: Breaking Down All 32 Teams Before Week 8 - Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning broke the all-time touchdown passing record in dismantling the San Francisco 49ers this last Sunday. Now Manning kicks off Week 8 at Mile High and faces the AFC West rival San Diego Chargers. It's hard to argue against the Broncos being the best team in the AFC—if not the entire NFL. Manning has a lot to do with that, as a great QB situation can help rosters overcome any number of deficiencies. A luxurious slew of talent has been assembled in Denver, though, which is why it sits at 5-1. As much attention as Manning garners and deserves in his unique position, there are 31 other clubs worth examining more closely ahead of Week 8's action. Here is an updated list of power rankings in ascending order, as the playoff picture begins to come into focus at the approximate midpoint of the 2014 season.   32. Oakland Raiders (0-6) Given they haven't won a game this season, it's hard to put the Raiders anywhere but the bottom at this point. However, Oakland could notch its first victory in Cleveland this Sunday, as it faces a struggling Browns defense and an opposing quarterback in Brian Hoyer coming off his worst performance of the year.   31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) Coach Lovie Smith's first season at the helm in Tampa Bay can't end fast enough. Even in a horrible NFC South division, there is no hope for the Bucs to be competitive this year. A high QB draft pick appears imminent, barring huge improvement from second-year signal-caller Mike Glennon.   30. New York Jets (1-6) The move to acquire Percy Harvin in a trade is too little, too late for the Jets to get back into AFC East contention this season. However, if Harvin pans out in New York, he and Eric Decker give young QB Geno Smith a couple solid weapons to work with moving forward.   29. Tennessee Titans (2-5) The Zach Mettenberger era is beginning in Tennessee, as the decision has been made to start the rookie sixth-round draft choice out of LSU, per ESPN's Adam Schefter: Mettenberger's big arm and experience in a pro-style offense at LSU should help the Titans move on from the unsuccessful Jake Locker days. How the team fares for the remainder of 2014 will depend on how quickly Mettenberger can adjust to the speed of the NFL game. He has a capable cast of receivers featuring Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter to help.   28. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) Defeating the Cleveland Browns in Week 7 was impressive, because the Browns had been competitive in every game this year before losing 24-6 in Jacksonville. That boosts the Jags over the two-win Titans in these power rankings. A ferocious defensive front and a blossoming rookie QB in Blake Bortles give Jacksonville an optimistic outlook for the rest of this year and beyond.   27. Washington Redskins (2-5) Third-string quarterback Colt McCoy will be starting on Monday night against the 6-1 Dallas Cowboys. While Robert Griffin III appears in line for a return soon, wide receiver Pierre Garcon offered some appropriate analysis, via NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala: The Cowboys game is a must-win for Washington to have any hope of staying alive in the NFC East. Until Griffin comes back to the lineup, Washington can't be ranked higher than this.   26. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) First-year QB Teddy Bridgewater can lean on emerging fellow rookie Jerick McKinnon in the backfield, but the offensive line really needs to step up its pass protection. Playing against the Bucs may give Bridgewater some time to throw and confidence back to help dig Minnesota out of the NFC North basement.   25. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) A woeful defense that ranks 30th in scoring and total yards allowed offsets anything the one-dimensional, albeit potent offense can do led by talented passer Matt Ryan. A long trip to London in Week 8 to face the Detroit Lions and their stout front seven doesn't promise to improve the Falcons' 2014 outlook. If Atlanta can't spread its wings and soar closer to the top of the weak NFC South, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff may be let go this offseason.   24. St. Louis Rams (2-4) Austin Davis has performed extremely well since being thrust into duty under center. Coming off a massive victory over Seattle, it's vital for the Rams to avert a letdown. Traveling to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs will be tough to get up for after such a momentous win against the Seahawks.   23. Houston Texans (3-4) J.J. Watt and Arian Foster can only do so much to try to carry this mediocre team to greater heights. As long as Ryan Fitzpatrick is in at quarterback, Houston doesn't have a viable chance at sustained success. Watt at least gets a chance to tee off on Sunday against Mettenberger, who's making his Titans debut.   22. Cleveland Browns (3-3) Losing to the Jaguars after such a massive triumph over Pittsburgh kicks the Browns way down the power rankings. If they can't find a way to beat Oakland at home, a once-promising season could tailspin into yet another year of losing and frustration.   21. New Orleans Saints (2-4) A rather pedestrian 11-7 touchdown-interception ratio has seen Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees suffer through a lackluster year thus far. If he can't cut down on the mistakes, New Orleans' defense isn't good enough to overcome the turnovers. Green Bay pays a visit to the Superdome on Sunday evening, so Brees will have to be at his best to outscore Aaron Rodgers and Co. in what should be a shootout.   20. Chicago Bears (3-4) In three wins, Jay Cutler has zero turnovers. He has given the ball away at least twice in the Bears' four losses. There is a common denominator here. Dan Durkin of CBS Chicago documented the interesting play-calling that occurred in Week 7's loss to Miami: If the Bears are meant to have any chance at a road win in New England in Week 8, all-purpose running back Matt Forte must be the offense's focal point.   19. New York Giants (3-4) To the surprise of no one who has followed the Giants in recent years, they remain among the most unpredictable teams in the league. After laying an egg in Philadelphia, the G-Men took to Dallas and put up a strong fight in defeat against America's Team. A home matchup with the streaking Indianapolis Colts in Week 9's edition of Monday Night Football will set the tone for the rest of New York's season.   18. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) Stud linebacker Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense better get their act together before they're eclipsed in the NFC South. The Panthers have yielded an average of 34.8 points per contest over the past five games and now play a Seattle team eager to bounce back off of two tough losses.   17. Buffalo Bills (4-3) Stability at the quarterback position has benefited the Bills since they went with veteran Kyle Orton over struggling project EJ Manuel. Check out this statistic from NFLN_Playbook: The Bills lead the league in sacks (24) but need Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown to step up in the backfield in lieu of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Just one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East, Buffalo needs to take care of business on the road against the Jets in Week 8.   16. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) The Dick LeBeau-coached defense and Ben Roethlisberger get a lot of attention, but the top headline in Pittsburgh has been RB Le'Veon Bell. ESPN Stats & Info highlights how Bell has fared with another prolific back this year: Critical home games against Indianapolis and Baltimore respectively will determine whether the inconsistent Steelers are back to form after two 8-8 campaigns or if they'll continue to be mired in mediocrity.   15. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) It's no wonder QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals are missing A.J. Green so dearly, per Pro Football Focus: Green needs to come back as soon as possible for Cincinnati to dig out of a current 0-2-1 streak after a 3-0 start, but the team also needs him for a prospective playoff run. A lot will be determined when the Bengals host the Ravens on Sunday.   14. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) The opening loss to Tennessee is confusing, because the Chiefs have otherwise been quite respectable. They can't take St. Louis lightly in Week 8 after securing what may have been a season-saving win versus San Diego in Week 7. Alex Smith is in place as a savvy, game-managing field general, complemented by a dynamic one-two RB punch in Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis. The Chiefs also have the NFL's No. 2 pass defense, so they could be in for a second-half surge.   13. Miami Dolphins (3-3) Yes, it seems the first-round investment the Dolphins made in Ryan Tannehill is paying massive dividends in what was thought to be the 11th hour of his short tenure. Lamar Miller has lifted the running game, and the defense is fourth in total yards allowed. Getting past New England in the AFC East may be too tall of a task to ask, but the Dolphins have all the elements of a team on the rise and could be a threat in the postseason before long.   12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) The injuries and key absences are beginning to catch up to the Niners, but they have the benefit of a perfectly timed Week 8 bye. Then they will host the Rams, which figures to be an ideal way to begin San Francisco's push toward the playoffs.   11. Seattle Seahawks (3-3) Russell Wilson continues to ball despite an underwhelming supporting cast, little blocking help and a defense that isn't playing up to the level it did in leading the Seahawks to the Super Bowl last year. It's hard to believe the two NFC West rivals, San Francisco and Seattle, that squared off in the most recent NFC Championship Game could both miss the playoffs. One of them will step up, and Seattle seems to have more favorable circumstances to do so, if only for its massive home-field advantage.   10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) If Baltimore can steal victory against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium this weekend, it has the opportunity to run away with the AFC North. None of the other teams look particularly impressive, while a newly balanced offense and revamped defense have the Ravens looking capable of beating anyone.   9. Arizona Cardinals (5-1) They may be atop the NFC West right now, but there are red flags about this Cardinals squad. Carson Palmer is the quarterback, Arizona can't generate a good pass rush and the secondary has been susceptible as a result, ranking 31st against the pass.   8. Green Bay Packers (5-2) Having thrown just one interception to 18 touchdowns, Aaron Rodgers is playing perhaps the best football of his impressive career. That has helped Green Bay overcome any issues to win its last four games, and a favorable matchup against the Saints looms. Even though it's away from Lambeau Field, Rodgers is showing no signs of slowing down.   7. Detroit Lions (5-2) Losing Calvin Johnson for multiple games in the past would have caused this Lions nucleus to implode. The calm countenance of new coach Jim Caldwell has helped Detroit become more resilient, which is all it seems to need to take the next step and become one of the NFL's best.   6. San Diego Chargers (5-2) Two middling performances in a row have seen the Chargers nearly lose to Oakland before dropping last week's game against Kansas City. That might be what San Diego needs to kick forward, and Thursday's test against the Broncos will serve as a better indication of the team's fortitude.   5. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) The AFC South is bereft of strong teams save for Indianapolis. Look for the Colts to take advantage of this, mainly because Andrew Luck is the best QB by light years in this cluster. Luck is continuing to improve, so he'll keep Indy in just about every game remaining.   4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) The Cardinals' top-ranked rush defense will test Philly's celebrated, uptempo ground game. Nick Foles hasn't been as proficient as he was in 2013, so he must prove he can challenge Arizona's secondary to help the Eagles keep pace with Dallas in the NFC East.   3. New England Patriots (5-2) All Tom Brady and Bill Belichick do is win. The QB-coach combo has done that with as much regularity as any of their contemporaries. Brady is on track for another great year following a tough start, per The Boston Globe's Ben Volin: New England welcomes a struggling Bears bunch to Gillette Stadium in Week 8, which is the type of opponent Brady and Belichick seem to have no problem crushing.   2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) Tony Romo finally has a competent defense and strong rushing attack to back him up. Running back DeMarco Murray is on an historic pace, and a stupendous offensive line is driving the team's hot start. The Cowboys look like the best team in the NFC. Such a statement would have seemed blasphemous before the 2014 season began, but that is the reality. Hosting Washington in Week 8 gives Dallas a tremendous chance to improve to 7-1.   1. Denver Broncos (5-1) Ronnie Hillman has helped ease the anxiety of letting Knowshon Moreno go in the offseason. That has supplied Denver with balance on offense to complement Manning's brilliance in the passing game. Elite pass-rusher Von Miller is also back to being a terror off the edge, while cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward are adding necessary physicality to the defensive backfield. Those stars embody why the Broncos are the No. 1 team in the latest power rankings. That could all change quickly, because the Broncos faces a formidable foe in the Chargers on Thursday and could stumble if they're not careful. At this late stage of Manning's career, though, he won't let his teammates lapse in preparation. Any losses from here on out will be a result of an opponent simply being better than Denver. The good news for Broncos fans and for those hoping Manning chases down a second Lombardi Trophy is that there aren't many adversaries that can hang with this team if they're even close to their best.  Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-23 Houston QB Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' - Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't playing the way he wants to and knows he has to improve to help the Houston Texans get back on track after three straight losses. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-23 Houston QB Fitzpatrick says he can 'do better' - QB Ryan Fitzpatrick determined to 'do better' to help Texans vs another former team          USA Today
    2014-10-23 NFL Preview - Houston (3-4) at Tennessee (2-5) (ET) - Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is expected to make his first career start for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday as his club takes on the Houston Texans at LP Field. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-23 Texans-Titans Preview (The Associated Press) - From what first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has observed, people surrounding the Tennessee Titans organization expected failure even before the season began. Mired in losing ways, the Titans look to avoid a sixth defeat in seven games when they start third-string rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger against former signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick and the visiting Houston Texans on Sunday. After dropping four straight, the Titans (2-5) edged previously winless Jacksonville 16-14, then lost 19-17 to Washington last week. Charlie Whitehurst, filling in for the injured Jake Locker, was 17 of 26 for 160 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Redskins. Yahoo Sports - Houston Texans
    2014-10-23 Michael Beller: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Do Anthony Dixon, Tre Mason belong in lineups Week 8? - In fantasy football, some players you start no matter which team they?re facing (from the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb,... SI.com Writers
    2014-10-23 The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo's First Start - Battle Red Blog's resident Xavier Su'a-Filo expert Matt Weston unleashes the .gifs, and images to break down the rookie's first professional start. Recommended Reading The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo (College) Back when I was young whipper-snapper in college I always wondered how someone could be an expert on the mating habits of beatles or just what it was about the Labour Supply Curve that could make a man want to devote his life to the marginal utility of leisure. But now I know. Life just kind of happens. You fall into something that interests you that very few people know a lot about, you become good at it, you read a lot about it, and after X amount of time people come to you for the answers that you once searched for. Now you are now the one Pearson calls when they need a quote for their newest textbook. See I too and am expert in something nearly as obscure as the Battle of Masan. Back in May before I took a Battle Red Blog hiatus I wrote 7,000 words about Xavier Su'a-Filo. I was just someone interested in the newest offensive lineman the Texans took to fill their Pro-Bowl sized hole at left guard. I never wanted this power. I never wanted to be an expert. I just kind of fell into it. One day my phone squealed at me, and I saw the following: This was my Pearson calling me for advice on the Navajo Sandstone layer of rock that resides in the geological formations at Zion National Park. This was a Grad Student filming a documentary on aquatic plants and needed someone to interview about Texas Wild Rice. Xavier Su'a-Filo following me on Twitter supplanted me as the Su'a-Filo expert. So because of this power I have a responsibility to him, and the masses on BRB to write this article. Heading into week six Brandon Brooks was hit with an Ebolic flue virus that left him crawling into a hospital bed. There he lay sprawled in a bedlam of white sheets as he puked up fifteen pounds of goo and bile. That opened the door for Su'a-Filo to make his first career start. Up until that Thursday night game against the Colts Su'a-Filo saw limited time when Houston went into six OL sets, and played a series against Dallas. His snap count totals going into Indy were: Game Snaps WSH 3 OAK 2 NYG 3 DAL 12 This was frustrating to see. After draft day, I and nearly everyone else assumed he would start immediately after being selected with the thirty-third pick. There was only one guard selected ahead of him, and that was Zach Martin. Houston had their choice of anyone, and we assumed they would get not only a top talent, but someone who could start right away. This didn't occur. He was in fact beaten out by Ben Jones. This was disparaging enough as is and even more so when you still see QB1: RYAN FITZPATRICK on the depth chart. Despite the anguish and hoopla, and suffering, and torture we finally had our first chance to get an extended look at the future of guard for the Houston Texans. The results were o.k. to say the least. On the second offensive snap of the game we saw what made Su'a-Filo a second round pick, and what makes him sit and watch on the sideline as Ben Jones gets all the snaps. In the first quarter with 14:56 remaining Houston ran the staple of their offense, the outside zone run towards Su'a-Filo's side. It's second and ten, Houston is lined up in a 122 set (1RB, 2TE, 2WR), and we get to play BFD's favorite game, "How many defenders are in the box?". The answer this time is eight, eight men in the box. Indy knows Houston is running to try and set up a more manageable third down for Ryan Fitzpatrick to pick up in an empty backfield set. When it comes to blocking this defensive formation it's as straight forward as it can get. There is a man in every gap so every offensive lineman will block the player in the gap to the right of them. This leaves Su'a-Filo with a brutal block. He is matched up one vs. one against the 318 pound Corey Redding (#90). Su'a-Filo is quick off the snap. He's taking his zone step (a short six inch diagonal step) and as you can see below he's moving before the rest of the line of scrimmage is. The aiming point for linemen on the outside zone run is the outside shoulder. If they can get to that outside shoulder they can drive the defender vertically rather than horizontally down the line of scrimmage. When the back-side gets outside shoulder head placement they can turn the defender away from the play to open up cutback lanes. At the moment, Xavier is in decent position to reach his aiming point. Here's when the trouble begins. It doesn't derail the block this time, but it's a crucial problem to Su'aFilo's game. Throughout this game Xavier had terrible head placement. This isn't because of his feet because they are stellar. It's because he dips his head when he punches and he makes contact too soon. Right now XSF can delay contact for a little longer and fight for the outside shoulder. Look at the rest of the line of scrimmage. Everyone other than Myers who had a man playing inches from his face has yet to attack the defender. They are all delaying to reach their target. This seems like a rookie mistake. A player who's making his first start, and is overly excited to hit the defender. A player who's still young and is crude oil rather than sweet gasoline. Su'a-Filo instead takes a step forward and makes contact on Redding's inside shoulder. Here is the point of impact. We see Su'a-Filo's head on the inside shoulder, and we see his hands are on the outside of the pads. The other problem he has right now is hands are abysmal. He doesn't punch the numbers, and he fails to grasp the pads when he makes contact. We will see more on the latter later. The good news though is that Su'a-Filo has a sturdy and voluptuous lower body. The one thing that you have to have to play offensive line is strength relative to your level of play. Without it you can't play the position. There's a incredible leap in athleticism from college to the pros. The players are bigger, faster, and stronger. If you lack the athleticism then the blocks you could make in college dissipate into invisible memories, and tackles in the backfield. When Xavier is lower than the defender and rolls his hips he can drive defenders, even ones like the underrated Redding. This is even more telling to his lower body strength when you take in account his head and hand placement. Foster cuts behind the crease made by Xavier's block. The other thing I like about Xavier is he's tenacious. Going back to college I loved how he played to the whistle and worked to put defenders flat on their back. Foster is down on the ground, but Xavier keeps working until the whistle and knocks Redding over the pile. Just like in college: For every block he makes with perfection there is another he makes that's horrendous. Nearly everything is perfect, but he's just missing one thing to turn from good to extraordinary. In the NFL Xavier is still missing one or two components on everyone one of his blocks. On the previous play we see Xavier take perfect steps to put him position to reach the outside shoulder, but he makes contact early and hits in the inside one. This plagues him throughout the game: By bending too early it leads to poor head placement, and him falling over and off his block. When you duck your head down early you can't see where the defender is moving or your aiming point, which opens up space for defenders to shed the block. In my time watching NFL offensive line play, I have never seen a player end up on the ground as often as he did in this game. And again, it's not a case of poor feet, he gets to the block. He doesn't have to flail as a last ditch effort. It's because he lacks patience and makes contact too soon. Also when he makes contact he's low with a good base, but he punches the outside shoulders rather than the chest. It works here to create a lane for Foster, but on other plays these inadequacies become detrimental. He makes 80% of a good block on this play. Later in the first quarter we see the same outside zone play ran to his side. Except here we see a "Duece" block with Derek Newton (right tackle #75) where Su'a-Filo peels off to the second level. The goal for Su'a-Filo here is to take his zone step to the right, offer a hand of help to Newton, and be in position in case the end (Corey Redding #90) stunts inside. Since the end is playing as a "5" he's too wide for Su'a-Filo to get a true hip to hip double team. So he will need to punch the end while staying square to seal the block for Newton before moving to the second level. Xavier takes his zone step right. It's hard to see in the images, but pay special attention to his feet in the .Gifs. He takes short, quick, choppy steps. Feet are the foundation to offensive line play because if you can't get there and put yourself in a position to make a block then you'll never have any type of consistency, and offensive line play is all about consistency. Right now his feet are the best part of his game. Newton has perfect footwork here, and makes contact at the precise moment. He's low, square, his hands are inside, and his head is on the outside shoulder. Xavier looks lovely right now. He's coming at a flat angle to help Newton get movement on the block. He doesn't assume that he can't help because the end is a "5" technique and automatically scamper to the linebacker. Xavier has his eyes on Reddding. His hands are up to punch his side. He makes his punch while his eyes watch the linebacker. This is key. After his punch is made he will know exactly where the linebacker is when he scrapes off the block. Xavier seals and creates movement. Redding is now traveling to the left thanks to Su'a-filo's help. Now he will block the linebacker. The linebacker, D'Qwell Jackson (#52), makes a nice play by attacking the block and slipping underneath. But you would like to see Xavier come off the block square with his shoulders turned. He gives Jackson the angle to get underneath. Rather than punch Jackson in the chest Su'aFilo has his hands crumpled shoving Jackson's side. He just rubs his belly into him instead of blocking him. This leads to Jackson getting into Su'a-filo's chest out of the block. This isn't a bad block. Su'a-Filo does everything perfectly until he gets to the second level. His feet are precise. The strength is there to move the heavy Redding. He goes to the second level at the perfect time. It's a great double team, but by not leaving the block square he creates space for Jackson to sneak into. Again, everything is nearly great, but... I'm sorry for the redundancy this sentence structure is going to be bludgeoned to death. In the second quarter we see another outside zone play except here we see Su'a-Filo on a weak scoop (back-side double team). Before the snap XSF is thinking he will be blocking a power scoop. The difference between the two is that on a power scoop Su'a-Filo is expecting to take over the block while Myers punches the outside shoulder until he feels his presence and then heads to the second level. It's more of a true double team. On a weak scoop Su'a-Filo offers only a shove if possible before going to the line backer. The reason why he assumes pre-snap that it will be a power scoop is because the alignment of the nose. He's playing as a "1" on the back-side of the play, which is close enough for Xavier to make an impact. At the snap the "1" slants towards the play-side. Myers and Xavier do a nice job taking their zone steps and reacting to the stunt. They aren't surprised. They just go with the flow of the play and understand how their assignments change. Xavier keeps flowing to the left to try and help seal the play until it no longer becomes feasible. He can offer a hand of help until he needs to move to the second level. I enjoy his patience here too. He doesn't attack up field once he sees the slant. He continues with the assignment and moves to the next level when he's supposed to. He has a nice feel for the zone run game. Since he's on the back-side he's trying to split the defense in half. So his aiming point is for the left shoulder of the linebacker. Except rather than drive him towards the play-side or up the field he's trying to turn his back to the right sideline and be a wall between the defender and the ball carrier. Already his angle is perfect. The linebacker will flow left so Xavier will stay at the current angle he's going at so he can get to the outside shoulder. He comes up the field at a 75 degree angle. Xavier makes contact. Unlike the previous plays with terrible head placement this time it's alright. It's not ideal yet it will do. His hands are inside on the chest and his head is centered. It's acceptable even if you would rather see it on the outside shoulder. This is when the wheels tremble and fall off the wagon. I mentioned that his hands are one of his biggest flaws. Xavier doesn't grasp when he makes contact. Instead he goes for a kill-shot and tries to scramble Jackson's brains. Yes, you want to be physical when you get there, but you want punch the chest, and grab. That way the defender can't bounce off the hit and make a play. He had the same problem in college too as can be seen in this .Gif (he's the left guard). In this run scheme this type of block is unnecessary. The goal of the back-side is to put a hat on every hat. In this still below if Foster was able to cut back or if Myers didn't get beat then Jackson could have made a tackle on the play and turned twenty yards into five yards. Throughout this game and in college Xavier didn't grasp the chest. It's a smaller issue in the run game that becomes exasperated in the pass game. A few plays later with 13:16 left in the second quarter we see the same type of play except this time it's a power scoop rather than a weak scoop. The defensive alignment is the same as last time yet here the "1" doesn't slant to the left. This is a really difficult block. Xavier takes a nice zone step left. The only problem is he's a little too high. Myers chips the outside shoulder to try and turn the nose tackle's pads to open him up for Su'a-Filo. Xavier has a nice angle to take over the block. But again he could be playing lower. He knows he needs to get to that outside shoulder so he speeds up his movement at the expense of his leverage. Myers's movement naturally takes him off the block and up field towards the back-side inside linebacker. Xavier is now moving forwards rather than at a 45 degree angle to block the nose tackle. Here he's a little lower. The key though is going to be if he can get his head inside. He's unable to. He punches the side of the defender. Again the head placement is awful. The good news is that Xavier is strong. The blocks he misses aren't because a lack of strength, and that's the first concern when it comes to evaluating a rookie offensive lineman. It's a great sign that he can have head placement this atrocious and still drive the defensive lineman up-field. Xavier gets tripped in the pile and falls down. Reaching the "1" and getting to that inside shoulder is an incredibly difficult to block. He still got the job done even if he didn't get his head inside. As most of you know the Texans are a zone run team with some power and man scheme plays sprinkled in. These plays utilize pulling, isolating defenders, and have the lineman block one on one more often. I've depicted all of the blocks Xavier made in the zone scheme so now I want to touch on two plays that used power concepts. At UCLA Su'a-Filo did pull a fair mount of the time even though UCLA was more of an inside zone read team. The wart when he pulled was that he would pull too quickly and miss defenders completely or arrive to the block out of control. Here we see the same sort of problems continue to thwart him. On this play with 10:20 left in the second quarter we see the Texans run power out of the shotgun, which is one of their favorite redzone plays to run. Ben Jones (left guard #60), and Myers (center #55) block down on the nose, everyone else has one vs. one blocks, and Su'a-Filo is going to pull through the hole and off the down blocks. The first thing you watch for when an offensive lineman pulls is does he gain ground with his first step. You can't just jump out of your stance and start running. You need to take a pull step (six inch step parallel to the line of scrimmage) that is flat to the line of scrimmage and takes him towards the hole. Su'a-Filo does exactly this. The other aspect about pulling is you want to stay flat on the line of scrimmage. You can't waste your steps and run like a sloppy drunk. You need to stay in your lane. Su'a-Filo does a swell job staying on his path even though there's slight penetration coming from the defensive tackle. Now Su'a-Filo plants to head up the hole. He needs to come right off of Jones's hip when he gets around the corner. Everything is beautiful so far. He's taken a perfect pull step, has stayed flat on the LOS, came tight around the down block. Yet here is when the trouble came to him when he was in college. Can he a.) find the correct defender b.) not be out of control when he makes contact? Su'a-Filo is in great position at the moment. His head is aimed at the outside shoulder since he can't let the inside linebacker get across his head to make a play on the ball carrier. Xavier makes contact. But here is when he screws up. He finds the right man, and he's in control when he makes contact. The problem is there's no technique whatsoever when he hits the linebacker. He kind of just mashes himself into the defender like he's a Freshman at homecoming. His hands are at his side. He just smushes into the defender. If someone had never played offensive line before and I told them what they were supposed to do without telling them how to block the man this is what I would expect. I wouldn't expect this from a second round pick. What he needs to do is place his head on the outside number, bring his hands to punch the chest, and roll his hips up into the defender. As a result, the linebacker is able to swing around the block and get to the inside of the play. I'm sorry if you have heard this before--Su'a-Filo took great steps, had a perfect path to the defender, but he made an awful block when he got there. I saw him have trouble pulling in college again and again and again. Most of his problems in college were because he missed the defender or wasn't in control. Against Indy he had problems making the block when he arrived. Yet he showed the ability to block the second level in the zone game. There's just no consistency or professionalism in his game. The last run play to look at is a one vs. one block on a lead play. What a lucky dog, Su'a-Filo has Ricky Jean Francois (#99) all to himself. His block is detrimental to the play because Jay Prosch (fullback #45) is going to come off his block to the linebacker. If there's any penetration it shuts the casket on this one. Here the defensive tackle is lined up as a "3" technique. So Su'a-Filo should take a short slide step (one six inch horizontal step) with his left foot to cover up the defender, and then one step forward with his right foot to initiate contact. Instead Xavier takes a slide step with his left foot. He opens the door for the defensive tackle to get into the backfield. Offensive line is a position all about precision and sloppy play like this leads to murderous monstrosities occurring. Su'a-Filo goes to make contact, but can't. His left arm is hanging pendulously and his right arm is going towards the chest of the defender meekly. Francois is in complete control. He has outside placement, has taken on exactly half of the lineman, and has both hands inside. All Xavier can do now is fight for a stalemate. On the bright side he's lower than the defender and is able to recover and bring his hands inside. Now they each just fight back and forth to try and gain position in a game of human tether-ball. This is an awful play by the defensive lineman, but Xavier deserves credit for recovering like he did. Despite it all, XSF ends up squaring the defender up and gets his hands inside on the numbers. I know this is a Su'a-Filo article. Yet I need to point this out. Jay Prosch is the worst fullback I've ever seen. He rarely blocks the right defender, and when he does he just lowers his head and butts into them. He plays with horrendous technique. He never has correct head placement. He's just a wreck of a player. Prosch is running a lead play and rather than block one of the linebackers who's uncovered he runs into the side of the defensive lineman. It's a lead play. Everyone knows what that is, and what his job is, and look at him now. Foster has absolutely nowhere to run. Xavier is able to recover on this play. Yet the wrong steps leads to him having the wrong head placement, which opens the door that a better defensive lineman would have blown right through like the big bad wolf. The strength is there, the leverage is there, the hands are here for once, but everything else is gross. If you thought that was nauseating, cheer up because it's about to get worse. Xavier was admirable in the run game. In the pass game he was pre-2014 Derek Newton bad. XSF has the "B" gap and is matched up against his new bestie Corey Redding (#90). Redding lines up as a "3". At the snap he rushes straight forward through the gap. Xavier does a nice job putting his quickness to work and snaps out of his stance. He has a good base, and is in sound position to mirror Redding. When it comes to pass blocking as a guard you don't want to allow a ton of space. Unlike playing tackle, you are trying to make contact as soon as possible. Space is a premium because of the distance to the quarterback. Interior rushers have a shorter path to the quarterback. You don't want to make contact two yards back because then the defender is a rip away from the sack, and the quarterback has no time to react. The center and guards are trying to create a horizontal wall in the center of the line of scrimmage for the quarterback to throw behind. A guard tries to snap out of the stance, and punch. They don't kick slide nearly to the extent that tackles do. Yet here we see Su'a-Filo retreating backwards and creating space between him and the defensive tackle. He doesn't punch until him and Redding are head up. The issue though isn't when he makes contact it's his feet. When you punch the defensive lineman, you want to be strong and back on your heels. You don't want to be on your toes when you punch because this leads to leaning and zaps your power. Yet what we see here is that when Su'a-Filo goes to punch Redding his left leg is balancing on his toes. When he punches he extends forward. Redding takes his arms and knocks them off of Su'a-Filo. This is a direct result of not staying on his heels and leaning forward when he makes contact. Redding swims over the top as Su'a-Filo drops his files onto the floor. Now he fight back to recover. It doesn't matter because Redding has a wide open path to the quarterback. When you watch Xavier pass block you see this constantly. You see him mirror the defender well, but when he punches he leans forward and plays on his toes too much. All of this weight going forward leaves him susceptible to swim moves, and for defensive lineman to pull him forward and yank the rug out from underneath him. The other issue that plagues him in the pass game is his hands. He plays patty cake too much. Just like in the run game when he heads to the second level and pushes rather than grasps he does the same in the pass game. He punches without grabbing the chest, resets, and punches again. On this play Su'a-Filo is away from the call so he's playing big on big rather than a gap. He is lined up with Drake Nevis (#94) who's in proximity as a "3" technique. Su'a-Filo gets out of his stance. And he continues to retreat backwards. Like the last play he's giving the defensive tackle room to rush. This would be acceptable if he was going against a "5" technique that he had to hurry over and meet, but not in this situation. It's surprising to see someone who's had extensive time playing guard do this even if he played tackle and guard in college. Xavier reels back for his punch. Unlike the last play Su'a-Filo has a nice base when he punches. He's not leaning forward. His knees are fairly bent, and he's back on his kneels. Yet he doesn't grab the chest. He punches, retreats and then... ...punches again. This completely dismantles the pocket. The goal is to create a wall. So you want to minimize space, punch, and grab so you can control the defender at the line of scrimmage. Once the hands are inside you just shuffle along and mirror him. Now Nevis has speed, and momentum going forward, which makes him a more powerful player. He shoves Su'a-Filo's chest and just drives him into Fitzpatrick. Su'a-Filo comically stumbles like a cartoon character snagged on a carpet or like in Psycho when Arbogast meets Mother. Oh, this is not a one time occurrence though. Xavier refuses to snag jersey in pass protection. It's perplexing to me to see such a fundamental aspect of the game never used. You punch and grab to control the defender. Su'a-Filo doesn't so after contact is made they can bounce off his block, shed, and then chase after the quarterback. I really have no idea what's going on. It maybe because even though his lower body is sturdy his upper body maybe weak, and he's afraid of getting pulled down. This would also explain the leaning shown earlier. But his bench press in the combine was above average, and he is able to get separation when he punches in this game. It maybe a bad habit he still has from his college days, but here, and here he's grabbing after punching. Whatever the reason is it's something a man and laptop can't tell. It's something between Xavier, and the coaching staff to figure out. Yet that doesn't change the fact that there's cracks in the foundation of how he pass protects. The surgery was a success, but your father still died. The car runs, but we had to put in a new transmission. We are offering a you a promotion, but it doesn't come with a pay raise only a title change. Xavier drove the tackle two yards backwards, but his head placement was inside rather than outside and he fell off the block. Xavier took a great angle to the linebacker, but he failed to grasp the chest which closed the cutback lane. Xavier had a great mirror on his pass protection, but he was on his toes when he punched and ended up falling forward while the defender ran away. At the moment Su'a-Filo is a wrinkled shirt underneath the bed. He needs to be starched, dry cleaned, and ironed. His edges are corroded and grimy. He's a second round pick who needs more time and polish. He will need to learn how to grasp the chest, be more patient with when he makes contact, be square and on his heels when he punches in pass pro, hit the right target, and play with his hands inside. These are all just subtle technique changes though. There isn't any reason why he can't fix these flaws with coaching, and practice. The things that can't be taught, quick feet, strength, and instinct are all there. The guard that Houston took in the second round to start right away doesn't and shouldn't. He's a sixth offensive lineman with the potential to be a stalwart on the line of scrimmage for years to come. Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-23 The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo's First Start - The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo's First Start The Palm Beach Post
    2014-10-23 The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo's First Start In The NFL - The Film Room: Xavier Su'a-Filo's First Start In The NFL The Palm Beach Post
    2014-10-23 5 keys for the Titans to beat the Texans - Jim Wyatt breaks down what the Titans need to beat Houston.          The Tennessean
    2014-10-23 Bleach Social: Where Are You Watching Texans-Titans? - The Houston Texans are on the road again this week as they head to Nashville to tangle with the Titans. Where will you be watching? Once upon a time, your Houston Texans were 3-1. Then October came, and with it came three straight losses. This week, the Texans look to right the ship against the team formerly owned by Bud Adams. What your plans for Texans-Titans on Sunday afternoon? Will you be at LP Field, cringing at every Tennessee fan wearing an Oilers jersey? Will you be watching at home, analyzing every sideline shot of Brian Cushing? Will you be at a sports bar, debating the merits of Ryan Fitzpatrick versus Ryan Mallett with other boozehounds? Whatever your plans, let us know in the Comments. If you're still trying to figure out what you're going to do, or if you're a stranger in a strange land looking for somewhere to catch the game, pose any queries here; someone might have a suggestion for you. Similarly, if you've got a worthy spot staked out somewhere and want to clue fellow Texans fans in to it, please divulge that information in the Comments as well. Texans vs Titans coverage Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-23 NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Updated 2014 Analysis Before Thursday Night Football - Didn't expect some of the outcomes of Week 7? Join the club. The NFL was full of surprises last Sunday. The Seattle Seahawks dropped a game to Austin Davis and the St. Louis Rams. The Kansas City Chiefs barely squeaked by the San Diego Chargers. The Jacksonville Jaguars even got off the schneid by taking care off business against the Cleveland Browns. There was so much to digest from Sunday's action that it has taken some time to process. Now that Week 8 is set to begin on Thursday Night Football when the Chargers take on the Denver Broncos, it's time to reveal the latest league power rankings.   32. Oakland Raiders (0-6) There's no question as to which team is the worst in the NFL. The Raiders are just plain bad. They remain the last winless team in the league. Both the offense and defense are below-average units. Derek Carr doesn't have the offensive line or weapons to light up the scoreboard like he did at Fresno State. He has shown flashes of being a franchise quarterback, but much has to be done to fix the parts surrounding him.   31. New York Jets (1-6) Geno Smith has regressed during his sophomore season, even if his past two games against the Broncos and New England Patriots haven't been all that bad. That said, losing six games in a row makes more headlines than two straight decent games. Eric Decker and Chris Johnson have also underperformed, and their contributions moving forward will measure how successful this team is. Trading for Percy Harvin will aid the team's 4.8-yards-per-play average, which ranks 31st in the NFL. But the fact remains that he's a wild card.   30. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) They're on the board! The Jaguars dominated the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, even if Blake Bortles was miserable under center. He completed 17 of his 31 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off three times, however. The emergence of Denard Robinson in the backfield is something to watch moving forward. CBS Sports' Chris Towers wrote about why he was successful: Sure, he wasn't necessarily muscling his way through tackles, but he showed enough slipperyness to make me think he can make plays the other backs in Jacksonville aren't necessarily capable of. He picked up 56 yards after contact Sunday, an average of 2.5 per carry, compared to just 1.9 for the rest of the team's backs this season. If Robinson can maintain some semblance of this type of production, Jacksonville could steal a few more wins before the season ends.   29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5) There's very little to like in Tampa Bay. The defense needs work and the quarterback play has been subpar. The only real positive is the athletic group of receivers and tight ends that Mike Glennon has at his disposal. He's on a short leash, however, so they may not be his group for very long.   28. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) A lack of a consistent running game has hurt rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon just haven't gotten it done at a high level, though McKinnon is likely the guy they'll go to more moving forward, as Bridgewater told reporters, per Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com: Jerick, he's a great athlete. He's a great back and he can do it all. When we're in the passing game, he'll keep plays alive if you have to check [down] the ball to him. Or in the run game, he's one of those guys who can get in and out of blocks and of tackles. He's going to be a guy that we continue to look forward to make plays for this team. A better run game will open up the passing game for the rookie.   27. Tennessee Titans (2-5) The Titans are lucky they aren't even lower. Colt McCoy looked like a serviceable NFL quarterback against the defense in the second half on Sunday. Colt McCoy! Very little is going right in Tennessee.   26. Washington Redskins (2-5) You just read it above. Kirk Cousins was benched in favor of McCoy. The offense (with and without Robert Griffin III) hasn't been good. Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris are interesting pieces to build around, but there has been no consistency in this team's attack.   25. Atlanta Falcons (2-5) The offense is very good and the defense is very bad. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the defense has carried more weight than the offense. And the offense now stands to regress some, as Matt Ryan just lost starting center Peter Konz to injury for the year. The offensive line already wasn't playing all that well. It will be interesting to see how it plays now.   24. St. Louis Rams (2-4) Austin Davis was a last-resort option for the Rams when Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill were lost to injuries, but he's played pretty well so far. After his surprising victory against the Seahawks, Davis earned high praise from Brett Favre, via ESPN.com: Not to sound off my rocker, but [Davis] -- in my mind -- can be the next Tom Brady or Kurt Warner. [Brian] Hoyer as well. Austin, like those mentioned, just needed a legit opportunity. The Rams still appear headed for a top-10 pick in the 2015 NFL draft, so it will be interesting to see if they take one of the many quarterbacks presumably available in that range.   23. New Orleans Saints (2-4) The Saints are horrible away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. All four of their losses have come on the road, while each of their two victories came in the friendly confines of home. They're home in Week 8, so we'll have to see if the trend continues.   22. Houston Texans (3-4) The Texans blew a 10-point lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, but the team is still surprisingly competitive. Ryan Fitzpatrick shouldn't be at the helm of an NFL offense, yet that hasn't stopped head coach Bill O'Brien. Houston likely won't finish the season at .500, so look for a downward trend over the next few weeks.   21. New York Giants (3-4) Losing two divisional games in a row will be difficult to come back from, and their upcoming stretch of games isn't easy in the least, but the Giants offense enters the bye week at a good time. Once the bye is over, Rashad Jennings will likely be back running the ball. The offense has struggled with Andre Williams and Peyton Hillis getting carries.   20. Cleveland Browns (3-3) Fans of the Browns had it out for Brian Hoyer on Sunday, as he was unable to take down the previously winless Jaguars. Of course, much of the blame should've gone to a defense that allowed Denard Robinson to rush for over 100 yards. The Raiders are next on the schedule. A loss in back-to-back weeks to 0-6 teams would be brutal for a team that looked like it could compete in the AFC North.   19. Chicago Bears (3-4) A big disappointment thus far, the Bears might have received the jolt they desperately need from Brandon Marshall this past week. He doesn't regret the comments he made about his teammates following last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins, per NFL.com's Mike Coppinger: Oh, absolutely my voice was heard. The only thing I regret is that the door wasn't closed, you know, but I wouldn't change any of my reaction because it came from my heart, and that's how I felt, that's how I still feel. I think that we have all the coaches we need, I think we have all the players that we need to get that job done. And 3-4 is unacceptable, but we have everything that we need to turn this ship right now. The New England Patriots are never a team you want to face when struggling, though, so the Bears could drop further down this list after Week 8.   18. Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) Defense led the charge last year for the Panthers. Carolina's defense this year has been nowhere near as dominant. They rank 27th in yards per game, second-worst in yards per play allowed, seventh in penalties and first in total touchdowns allowed. This team will not make the playoffs with a defense that susceptible to big plays and mistakes.   17. Miami Dolphins (3-3) Ryan Tannehill earned some confidence following the defeat of the Bears, but now it's time for him to build off that performance and string together multiple wins in a row. The Jaguars are up next, and they've allowed the most passing yards per game this season. Miami should be looking at a 4-3 record in a week's time.   16. Buffalo Bills (4-3) Getting to the quarterback with ease has made the Bills one of the most surprising teams of the 2014 season. Buffalo leads the league with 24 sacks, as Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus have made opposing quarterbacks uneasy in the pocket. Offensively, things aren't too great. Sammy Watkins has mostly lived up to expectations, but Kyle Orton still leads the offense and injuries to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller mean Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown are in line for big carries. That's not an ideal situation.   15. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1) The Bengals did not come to play in Week 7. Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis defense stifled the Bengals, as Cincy lost 27-0 and showed serious flaws in the process. ESPN's Field Yates (subscription required) highlighted what's gone wrong: The Bengals have been outscored 107-54 during their three-game winless streak, including being shut out on Sunday for the first time since 2009. The defense, which played as well as any other during the first three weeks of the season, is now yielding 23.3 points per game, 18th in the NFL. The offense hasn't been much better, but it should be noted that star wide receiver A.J. Green -- the team's best player -- has missed the past two games due to a recurring toe injury. Cincy looked like a real AFC contender early in the year, but they'll need to string together some decisive wins to restore faith.   14. Kansas City Chiefs (3-3) San Diego proved no match for the Chiefs on Sunday, as they stole a hard-fought contest and moved to 3-3. The Chiefs could realistically move to 5-3 after squaring off against the Rams and the Jets in the next two weeks.   13. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) DeMarco Murray has rightfully earned the attention of everyone in the NFL this season, but Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell hasn't been too far off in terms of production. He and Murray are the only two players this season to post 100 yards from scrimmage in every game. The game plan for the Steelers must revolve around getting Bell the ball. This will open up the passing game for Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.   12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3) Peyton Manning torched Jim Harbaugh's secondary en route to setting the NFL career touchdown record, and injuries to the entire defense have made the unit a bit of a liability. The bye week is certainly welcomed, as this team needs to get healthy—and fast.  The NFC West is wide-open with the Seattle Seahawks scuffling and the Arizona Cardinals somewhat unproven.   11. Seattle Seahawks (3-3) Doug Baldwin stepped up in Week 7, but even his strong performance couldn't stop the Seahawks from dropping what looked like an easy win to the Rams. The defense hasn't been nearly as stifling as it was last season, hence most of the struggles. Russell Wilson is a true leader, and it will be up to him to rally his guys together and pick up a win this week against the Panthers.   10. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) This weekend's matchup against the Bengals will be somewhat of a litmus test for the 5-2 Ravens. Sure, the Bengals have struggled recently, but they're still a strong divisional rival. ESPN's Jamison Hensley wrote about what trend they'll need to continue in Week 8: In winning five of their last six games, the Ravens are winning the battle at the start of the game. During this stretch, they have outscored teams, 45-10, in the first quarter. The 35-point differential ranks only behind the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens have scored on four opening drives this season, which includes touchdowns the past two weeks.  Joe Flacco has played very well lately. That's bad news for Cincy.   9. Detroit Lions (5-2) No Calvin Johnson? No problem. He hasn't made an impact since Sept. 21, but Matthew Stafford has spread the ball around and benefited from strong performances from Golden Tate and Joique Bell. Arguably the NFL's most stifling defense has also led the way, and it looks as if the Lions are legitimate contenders. Then again, we've said that in previous years—and then they tanked late in the season.   8. Arizona Cardinals (5-1) Carson Palmer is 10-2 in his past 12 starts and the Cardinals are the current leaders of the NFC West. It has been a complete effort for Arizona. The defense has played well. Andre Ellington has run well. Drew Stanton surprised the league by playing quite well in Palmer's stead. With their leader back, the Cardinals are in good position to maintain their division lead.   7. San Diego Chargers (5-2) San Diego took a step back by not beating the Chiefs, but their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos can erase the disappointment of Week 7. The Chargers always play well against Denver, and this is by no means an easy game for the Broncos. Philip Rivers is an early MVP candidate even though he's had to rely on Branden Oliver to open up the passing game. Antonio Gates is enjoying a resurgence of sorts, and he'll be utilized heavily against Denver.   6. New England Patriots (5-2) Remember all those critics after the Patriots started 2-2? They're gone now. Since their loss to the Chiefs, the Pats have beaten up on the Bengals and Bills. Last week's close win against the Jets was a bit unexpected, but a win is a win. Taking care of business in a close game from time to time is always good for a team's morale.   5. Green Bay Packers (5-2) Aaron Rodgers has tossed just one interceptions this year. He's been as on target as you can be under center. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have helped his effectiveness. Their explosiveness off the line and their ability to run crisp routes has made Rodgers' job pretty easy. The Packers face stiff competition from the Lions in the NFC North. The Bears could also sneak back into the discussion if they iron out their issues.   4. Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) The Eagles watched the Cowboys take down the Giants during their bye week. Dallas remains Philly's top competition in both the NFC East and the conference in general. That means the Eagles must come out of the bye strong against the Cardinals. LeSean McCoy returned to his old rushing ways against the Giants in Week 6, but Arizona is one of the best at stopping the run.   3. Indianapolis Colts (5-2) This Colts team is something special. Andrew Luck is an MVP front-runner. T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen have given the young quarterback stellar options both deep and in the middle of the field. The defense has been strong without top star Robert Mathis, and this team has all the confidence in the world—especially after shutting out the Bengals.   2. Dallas Cowboys (6-1) DeMarco Murray is the man to thank for this team's 6-1 start. Teams are loading the box against the Cowboys, therefore opening up the passing game for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Even loading the box hasn't stopped Murray, though. Look for Dallas to continue to succeed if Murray can keep racking up yards.   1. Denver Broncos (5-1) Everything is clicking for Denver. Now that Manning's record is out of the way, this team can focus on avenging their gut-wrenching Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks. They're in great shape to get to the big game yet again, but the overall success of the team will be dictated by Manning.   Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BRRead more NFL news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-23 Fantasy: Week 8 Rankings - Analysis - Over the last two seasons, theScore's Justin Boone has finished in the top 10 in FantasyPros' Most Accurate Expert Competition. This year he's first overall after seven weeks. Scroll down to see his rankings for Week 8.A final rankings update will be available on Sunday morning.Quarterbacks RkPlayerOpp 1Peyton Manning - DENvs. SD2Aaron Rodgers - GBat NO3Andrew Luck - INDat Pit4Russell Wilson - SEAat Car5Drew Brees - NOvs. GB6Philip Rivers - SDat Den7Tom Brady - NEvs. Chi8Tony Romo - DALvs. Was9Jay Cutler - CHIat NE10Nick Foles - PHIat Ari11Carson Palmer - ARIvs. Phi12Cam Newton - CARvs. Sea13Matthew Stafford - DETat Atl14Ryan Tannehill - MIAat Jac15Ben Roethlisberger - PITvs. Ind16Matt Ryan - ATLvs. Det17Alex Smith - KCvs. StL18Joe Flacco - BALat Cin19Kyle Orton - BUFat NYJ20Teddy Bridgewater - MINat TB21Derek Carr - OAKat Cle22Mike Glennon - TBvs. Min23Andy Dalton - CINvs. Bal24Austin Davis - STLat KC25Ryan Fitzpatrick - HOUat Ten26Blake Bortles - JACvs. Mia27Brian Hoyer - CLEvs. Oak28Geno Smith - NYJvs. Buf29Colt McCoy - WASat Dal30Zach Mettenberger - TENvs. Hou Aaron Rodgers has been on cruise control over the last month, throwing for at least three touchdowns with no interceptions in four straight games. Rodgers has tossed 18 touchdown passes and just one pick this season and should continue that success against a soft Saints defense on Sunday night. The only thing that can stop Rodgers at this point is his bye next week. Russell Wilson became the first player in NFL history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a single game last week. Anyone who waited for Wilson in their draft is being rewarded. His matchup with the Panthers defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks has him firmly in the top 5. After his ridiculous 27:2 touchdown to interception ratio in 2013, Nick Foles has thrown 10 touchdowns and seven picks through six games this year. Foles' play hasn't slowed the 5-1 Eagles down much, but the team will need him to sharpen up if they are going to maintain that pace. Coming off a bye, a tough matchup on the road in Arizona will be a good test. The Jaguars pass defense has been impressive the last two weeks, shutting down both Charlie Whitehurst and Brian Hoyer. However, Week 8 opponent Ryan Tannehill is a legitimate NFL starter who has found his game as of late. Tannehill has three multi-touchdown games in row and could sneak into the QB1 discussion this week. If you're looking further down the list for help, Teddy Bridgewater gets a Buccaneers defense that has given up 13 passing touchdowns in their last four games, including five in the first half in their last game before the bye. Bridgewater has struggled the last two weeks, so he should be available on the waiver wire. Zach Mettenberger is the latest rookie to get his shot as a starter. The move seems to be a sign the Titans are giving up on the season, but Mettenberger's big arm could help Justin Hunter find a spark. Unfortunately, his first matchup comes against J.J. Watt and a Texans defense that may also have Jadaveon Clowney back in the lineup. Good luck, Zach. Running Backs RkPlayerOpp 1DeMarco Murray - DALvs. Was2Jamaal Charles - KCvs. StL3Matt Forte - CHIat NE4Marshawn Lynch - SEAat Car5Arian Foster - HOUat Ten6Le'Veon Bell - PITvs. Ind7Andre Ellington - ARIvs. Phi8Lamar Miller - MIAat Jac9LeSean McCoy - PHIat Ari10Ben Tate - CLEvs. Oak11Joique Bell - DETat Atl12Shane Vereen - NEvs. Chi13Giovani Bernard - CINvs. Bal14Ahmad Bradshaw - INDat Pit15Ronnie Hillman - DENvs. SD16Jerick McKinnon - MINat TB17Mark Ingram - NOvs. GB18Branden Oliver - SDat Den19Justin Forsett - BALat Cin20Eddie Lacy - GBat NO21Darren McFadden - OAKat Cle22Alfred Morris - WASat Dal23Chris Ivory - NYJvs. Buf24Reggie Bush - DETat Atl25Tre Mason - STLat KC26Trent Richardson - INDat Pit27Doug Martin - TBvs. Min28Denard Robinson - JACvs. Mia29Bishop Sankey - TENvs. Hou30Bryce Brown - BUFat NYJ31Jonathan Stewart - CARvs. Sea32Jeremy Hill - CINvs. Bal33Anthony Dixon - BUFat NYJ34Isaiah Crowell - CLEvs. Oak35Bobby Rainey - TBvs. Min36Travaris Cadet - NOvs. GB37Roy Helu - WASat Dal38Khiry Robinson - NOvs. GB39Steven Jackson - ATLvs. Det40James Starks - GBat NO41Chris Johnson - NYJvs. Buf42Benny Cunningham - STLat KC43Jonas Gray - NEvs. Chi44Knile Davis - KCvs. StL45Bernard Pierce - BALat Cin46Antone Smith - ATLvs. Det47Stepfan Taylor - ARIvs. Phi48Juwan Thompson - DENvs. SD49Matt Asiata - MINat TB50Daniel Thomas - MIAat Jac51Darren Sproles - PHIat Ari52LeGarrette Blount - PITvs. Ind53Joseph Randle - DALvs. Was54Robert Turbin - SEAat Car55Dexter McCluster - TENvs. Hou56Alfred Blue - HOUat Ten57Devonta Freeman - ATLvs. Det58Storm Johnson - JACvs. Mia59Maurice Jones-Drew - OAKat Cle60Brandon Bolden - NEvs. Chi Consider this your weekly reminder to pick up Joseph Randle. We all want to see DeMarco Murray stay healthy and challenge for a 2,000-yard season, but somewhere deep down we all know better. LeSean McCoy is coming off his best game of the season with 155 total yards prior to the Eagles' Week 7 bye. Yards won't be nearly as easy to come  by on the road against a Cardinals defense that allows the third fewest points to running backs, but McCoy's arrow is still pointing up the rest of the season. He's impossible to bench, especially coming off a bye. Ben Tate had his worst game of the season in what should have been an excellent matchup with the Jaguars in Week 7. The loss of center Alex Mack doesn't help, but the Browns offense imploded in the loss. Tate gets another favorable matchup on Sunday facing a porous Raiders run defense. He remains in the top 10 despite his off week. Shane Vereen proved he is the most valuable Patriots back to own and is a borderline RB1 in fantasy this week. Due to the unpredictable nature of Bill Belichick's backfield, there is a certain amount of risk that comes along with Vereen, giving him a lower floor than most running backs ranked near him.   This could be a huge week for Jerick McKinnon if the Vikings can take advantage of the Buccaneers defense like other teams have this season. Tampa Bay has given up the fourth most fantasy points to running backs and McKinnon is the clear lead back in Minnesota.  With Pierre Thomas sidelined, Mark Ingram is a solid RB2 play against the Packers this week. Travaris Cadet is also worth a look as someone who could pick up the passing down work in Thomas' absence. Cadet has 20 targets over the last three weeks, including a pair of games where Thomas was in the lineup. If James Starks ends up being ruled out this week, Eddie Lacy will get a bump up the rankings. When Starks is in the lineup, this is more of a timeshare than people seem to realize. If Darren McFadden has a strong outing against the Browns, his owners should search hard for a trade partner before next week. McFadden's schedule is vicious after the matchup with the Browns. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown are likely going to split touches in the Bills backfield, making both RB3 or flex plays. Bobby Rainey is an interesting name to consider this week. The Vikings are giving up the sixth most fantasy points to running backs. Doug Martin hasn't done much to secure his starting job, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season, while Rainey has gained 4.9 yards per rush. Wide Receivers RkPlayerOpp 1Jordy Nelson - GBat NO2Demaryius Thomas - DENvs. SD3Dez Bryant - DALvs. Was4Antonio Brown - PITvs. Ind5Julio Jones - ATLvs. Det6Randall Cobb - GBat NO7Brandon Marshall - CHIat NE8T.Y. Hilton - INDat Pit9Golden Tate - DETat Atl10Jeremy Maclin - PHIat Ari11Sammy Watkins - BUFat NYJ12Mike Wallace - MIAat Jac13Emmanuel Sanders - DENvs. SD14Alshon Jeffery - CHIat NE15Vincent Jackson - TBvs. Min16Michael Floyd - ARIvs. Phi17Kelvin Benjamin - CARvs. Sea18Steve Smith - BALat Cin19DeSean Jackson - WASat Dal20A.J. Green - CINvs. Bal21Andre Johnson - HOUat Ten22Terrance Williams - DALvs. Was23Julian Edelman - NEvs. Chi24Pierre Garcon - WASat Dal25Roddy White - ATLvs. Det26Eric Decker - NYJvs. Buf27Doug Baldwin - SEAat Car28DeAndre Hopkins - HOUat Ten29James Jones - OAKat Cle30Larry Fitzgerald - ARIvs. Phi31Torrey Smith - BALat Cin32Keenan Allen - SDat Den33Marques Colston - NOvs. GB34Cecil Shorts - JACvs. Mia35Mohamed Sanu - CINvs. Bal36Brandin Cooks - NOvs. GB37Wes Welker - DENvs. SD38Andre Holmes - OAKat Cle39Mike Evans - TBvs. Min40Allen Robinson - JACvs. Mia41Kendall Wright - TENvs. Hou42Percy Harvin - NYJvs. Buf43Brian Quick - STLat KC44Eddie Royal - SDat Den45Brandon LaFell - NEvs. Chi46Cordarrelle Patterson - MINat TB47Davante Adams - GBat NO48Malcom Floyd - SDat Den49Jermaine Kearse - SEAat Car50Reggie Wayne - INDat Pit51Andrew Hawkins - CLEvs. Oak52Justin Hunter - TENvs. Hou53Dwayne Bowe - KCvs. StL54Greg Jennings - MINat TB55Jarvis Landry - MIAat Jac56John Brown - ARIvs. Phi57Jordan Matthews - PHIat Ari58Robert Woods - BUFat NYJ59Kenny Britt - STLat KC60Miles Austin - CLEvs. Oak61Riley Cooper - PHIat Ari62Kenny Stills - NOvs. GB63Jarius Wright - MINat TB64Corey Fuller - DETat Atl65Brian Hartline - MIAat Jac66Brandon Tate - CINvs. Bal67Jeremy Ross - DETat Atl68Devin Hester - ATLvs. Det69Paul Richardson - SEAat Car70Jerricho Cotchery - CARvs. Sea71Andre Roberts - WASat Dal72Allen Hurns - JACvs. Mia73Martavis Bryant - PITvs. Ind74Hakeem Nicks - INDat Pit75Nate Washington - TENvs. Hou76Jeremy Kerley - NYJvs. Buf77Brice Butler - OAKat Cle78Donte Moncrief - INDat Pit79Travis Benjamin - CLEvs. Oak80Damaris Johnson - HOUat Ten Calvin Johnson flew with the team to London, but my guess is that he still doesn't play. His presence overseas could be more for marketing the team and league than a sign he is on track to take the field. Golden Tate will remain a solid play if Megatron is out. A.J. Green is tentatively ranked 20th, but it's situation that could change greatly depending on if he practices over the next two days. If Green is out, Mohamed Sanu would become a WR2. You shouldn't have any worries playing Brandon Marshall this week, even after his reported post-game tirade in the locker room following the loss to the Dolphins. Marshall is an emotional player and he will come back strong. Sammy Watkins is a borderline WR1 in fantasy for Week 8, facing one of the weakest secondaries in the league. If the Jets aren't able to get pressure on Kyle Orton, Watkins could have a monster day. Everyone is predicting a regression for Terrance Williams, who has six touchdowns in seven games. Williams won't sustain that pace in the second half of the season, but he has a good chance to continue it this week against the Redskins, who have allowed 15 passing touchdowns in seven games. Percy Harvin owners should be prepared for a slow start to his time in New York as he gets up to speed with the offense. Harvin's true impact may come in the form of freeing up Eric Decker, who could have a nice game against the Bills. However, you always have to remind yourself that Geno Smith is the one responsible for throwing passes in the Big Apple. Doug Baldwin is a WR3 with WR2 upside the rest of the way. He isn't going to post 100-yard games every week, but when the Seahawks take to the air like they did on Sunday, Baldwin will lead the way. Mike Evans should continue to get better as the season goes on and I like him more than most this week against the Vikings. The rookie has 15 targets over his last two games and hauled in a touchdown in both contests. He's a player I would be targeting in trades this week. I wish I could quit on Cordarrelle Patterson, but for some reason I have held him on my bench all season... hoping. The Buccaneers give up more fantasy points to wide receivers than any other defense. If Patterson can't make it happen against Minnesota, I may finally be able to let go. Tight Ends RkPlayerOpp 1Julius Thomas - DENvs. SD2Rob Gronkowski - NEvs. Chi3Antonio Gates - SDat Den4Greg Olsen - CARvs. Sea5Jimmy Graham - NOvs. GB6Martellus Bennett - CHIat NE7Jordan Reed - WASat Dal8Zach Ertz - PHIat Ari9Jordan Cameron - CLEvs. Oak10Owen Daniels - BALat Cin11Travis Kelce - KCvs. StL12Dwayne Allen - INDat Pit13Delanie Walker - TENvs. Hou14Charles Clay - MIAat Jac15Jared Cook - STLat KC16Jason Witten - DALvs. Was17Heath Miller - PITvs. Ind18Coby Fleener - INDat Pit19Scott Chandler - BUFat NYJ20Jace Amaro - NYJvs. Buf21Clay Harbor - JACvs. Mia22Eric Ebron - DETat Atl23Ladarius Green - SDat Den24Austin Seferian-Jenkins - TBvs. Min25Jermaine Gresham - CINvs. Bal26Tim Wright - NEvs. Chi27Andrew Quarless - GBat NO28Luke Willson - SEAat Car29Gavin Escobar - DALvs. Was30John Carlson - ARIvs. Phi Jimmy Graham owners were burned by his zero-catch game in Week 7, but that was the risk going with a player who was limited. Graham will likely see reduced snaps once again, but when he's active he has to be in your lineup. The bye week may have caused owners to drop Zach Ertz, and if they did you should have picked him up for a fantastic matchup against the Cardinals. Arizona has struggled against tight ends in recent years and Ertz is coming off a 47-yard, one-touchdown game in Week 6. Ertz's snap count is worrisome, but his targets have remained consistent (5.2 per game). Jordan Cameron had an awful game in Week 7 with one catch for five yards. Cameron did get six targets and was badly overthrown in the end zone for what would have been a short touchdown. I wouldn't be scared to roll with Cameron the rest of the way. Owen Daniels had six catches for 58 yards a touchdown in last week's win over the Falcons, but didn't practice on Wednesday with a knee injury. You'll have to monitor his status all week, but if he does play, he'll go up against a Bengals defense giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Travis Kelce's usage has been disappointing, but owners need to stay the course. Kansas City needs playmakers in the passing game and Kelce has far too much talent to keep him off the field. Defense/Special Teams RkPlayerOpp 1Miami Dolphins - Miaat Jac2Buffalo Bills - Bufat NYJ3Detroit Lions - Detat Atl4Houston Texans - Houat Ten5Baltimore Ravens - Balat Cin6Kansas City Chiefs - KCvs. StL7Seattle Seahawks - Seaat Car8Dallas Cowboys - Dalvs. Was9Cleveland Browns - Clevs. Oak10Indianapolis Colts - Indat Pit11New England Patriots - NEvs. Chi12Philadelphia Eagles - Phiat Ari13Minnesota Vikings - Minat TB14Arizona Cardinals - Arivs. Phi15Cincinnati Bengals - Cinvs. Bal16New York Jets - NYJvs. Buf17Denver Broncos - Denvs. SD18Chicago Bears - Chiat NE19Tennessee Titans - Tenvs. Hou20Carolina Panthers - Carvs. Sea21Tampa Bay Buccaneers - TBvs. Min22St. Louis Rams - StLat KC23Pittsburgh Steelers - Pitvs. Ind24Green Bay Packers - GBat NO25Oakland Raiders - Oakat Cle26Atlanta Falcons - Atlvs. Det27Jacksonville Jaguars - Jacvs. Mia28San Diego Chargers - SDat Den29New Orleans Saints - NOvs. GB30Washington Redskins - Wasat Dal Kickers RkPlayerOpp 1Stephen Gostkowski - NEvs. Chi2Dan Bailey - DALvs. Was3Justin Tucker - BALat Cin4Adam Vinatieri - INDat Pit5Steven Hauschka - SEAat Car6Cody Parkey - PHIat Ari7Mason Crosby - GBat NO8Nick Novak - SDat Den9Dan Carpenter - BUFat NYJ10Chandler Catanzaro - ARIvs. Phi11Brandon McManus - DENvs. SD12Shaun Suisham - PITvs. Ind13Blair Walsh - MINat TB14Caleb Sturgis - MIAat Jac15Matt Prater - DETat Atl16Matt Bryant - ATLvs. Det17Robbie Gould - CHIat NE18Nick Folk - NYJvs. Buf19Mike Nugent - CINvs. Bal20Shayne Graham - NOvs. GB21Graham Gano - CARvs. Sea22Randy Bullock - HOUat Ten23Kai Forbath - WASat Dal24Cairo Santos - KCvs. StL25Greg Zuerlein - STLat KC26Billy Cundiff - CLEvs. Oak27Ryan Succop - TENvs. Hou28Patrick Murray - TBvs. Min29Sebastian Janikowski - OAKat Cle30Josh Scobee - JACvs. Mia Copyright © 2014 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license. theScore NFL
    2014-10-23 Andre Johnson rides to Ryan Fitzpatrick's defense http://t.co/9IFC7WC7Ha - None twitter
    2014-10-23 Andre Johnson rides to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s defense - When Texans receiver Andre Johnson was staying away this offseason, amid reports he was disturbed about the team’s rebuilding phase, it was natural to assume he wasn’t happy with the quarterback, or lack thereof. But even as coach Bill O’Brien said Ryan Fitzpatrick made some bad reads and missed Johnson for some big gains recently,… Pro Football Talk
    2014-10-23 How Pittsburgh Steelers Manufactured Pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick - One of the high points of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 30-23 win over the Houston Texans was the inspired play of the Steelers defense. After bending in a big way in the first quarter, the defense stiffened and held off a late rally for the win. The Pittsburgh defense impressed in several areas. The group forced three turnovers in the game. This is a major step in the right direction. And after giving up 73 yards rushing to Texans running back Arian Foster in the first quarter, it only surrendered 29 to him in the final three quarters. However, one area that has been a bone of contention is the cause for the lack of pass rush. Much like Pittsburgh’s red-zone offense, the pass-rushing woes are generally attributed to either a lack of talent or poor scheme. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a game to mimic in terms of rushing the passer, this one might not be textbook. This team still must address outside linebacker in the next offseason. That’s why right now, Pittsburgh must manufacture a pass rush. ESPN’s Mark Schlereth had this to say about it. I can't remember a time when the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't have an outside linebacker that was a viable pass rush threat! — mark schlereth (@markschlereth) October 21, 2014 Nevertheless, Pittsburgh did take advantage of some opportunities and use some creative play design, along with showing outstanding individual effort to bring heat when it was needed against Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of plays that show excellent individual effort as well as some creative scheming. On this first play, the Steelers come up to crowd the line of scrimmage on first down. The Steelers had been getting carved up on the ground, so they have nine guys up around the line, as Foster is a full seven yards deep. The first key to how this play works is the position of safety Troy Polamalu. By setting up on the inside shoulder of Texans right tackle Derek Newton, he must account for him as a potential blitzer. This gives outside linebacker Jason Worilds the matchup he wants with tight end Garrett Graham. Worilds goes wide at the snap and beats Graham around the corner, forcing Fitzpatrick up into the pocket. Not a sack, but pressure, and a play the defense can point to and use later on in the season. On this next play, we see the Steelers once again crowding the line. On the first example, the Texans had the option to check to a run. In this case, there’s no doubt with five wide receivers and Fitzpatrick in the shotgun, this is pass all the way. The Steelers can attack. The Steelers counter this with four guys up on the line of scrimmage, none of whom have their hand on the ground. Then, just before the snap, you see linebacker Lawrence Timmons creep up to the line as an additional rusher. Once again it is Newton they target, and again he comes up short. Timmons whips him off the ball and chases down Fitzpatrick. These are just two plays that showed how the Steelers were able to create confusion along the Texans’ line, and then the Steelers player whom the scheme put in a position to win did just that. Overall, Worilds had a strong game coming off the edge. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) gave Worilds a 7.7 grade. It might not have shown itself statistically, but you can see flashes of the player everyone expected to see all season long. It might take some creativity, and Pittsburgh is going to have to pick its shots. However, all things considered, this team has a shot to keep putting heat on opposing quarterbacks.Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com B/R NFL
    2014-10-23 .@sportywineguy Ryan Fitzpatrick changes sides for this #Texans-#Titans meeting http://t.co/D159goDA2J - None twitter
    2014-10-23 Quotes from the #Texans: Bill O'Brien http://t.co/c6OJvI3b8i | Ryan Fitzpatrick http://t.co/p8jtjoSKDT #Titans #HOUvsTEN - None twitter
    2014-10-23 RT @Mbw987: @battleredblog @SpaceCityFan Ryan Fitzpatrick. - None twitter
    2014-10-23 RT @sandy_therrien: @battleredblog @SpaceCityFan Ryan Fitzpatrick... Can we make it happen? - None twitter
    2014-10-23 Fitzpatrick, O’Brien not worried about familiarity with Titans - Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t worried about the Titans’ defense knowing his tendencies. (AP Photo/Wade Payne) Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a well-traveled 10-year veteran, so it’s no surprise when he plays against one of his former teams. He helped the Texans beat Buffalo. Now he’s playing at Tennessee, where he helped the Titans defeat the Texans 16-10 in the last game of 2013. “I’m familiar with them, and they’re familiar with me,” he said. “I know (cornerback Jason) McCourty knows some of my tricks. And a guy like (safety) George Wilson – we played together for five years. They’ll know me and my tendencies, so it’ll be interesting to watch. But I [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-22 Texans sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick fow now, but Ryan Mallett getting reps in practice: http://t.co/dwrF3ajctt - None twitter
    2014-10-22 Fitzpatrick, On Calls For QB Change: “It Doesn’t Really Affect Me To Be Honest” - Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t hear the critics, or the calls for the Houston Texans to swap him out for Ryan Mallet. Even if he did, the current Texans starter and 10-year NFL veteran said Wednesday that […] CBS Local
    2014-10-22 Texans Transcripts: Wednesday press conferences - Quotes from players and coaches as they spoke with the media on Wednesday. Houston Texans
    2014-10-22 No, Fitzpatrick’s Familiarity With Titans Doesn’t Give Texans An Edge - Yeah, it’s kind of not a big deal. Though Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played for the Tennessee Titans last season, and so practiced against many current members of their defense, Fitzpatrick and head coach […] CBS Local
    2014-10-22 Ryan Fitzpatrick: "The Titans know all my tricks" - Missed Ryan Fitzpatrick's weekly Wednesday press conference? Don't worry, we've got you covered. Ryan Fitzpatrick took to the podium today to talk about the Texans’ recent three game skid and their upcoming divisional showdown with the Titans this weekend. You can watch the full presser on the Mothership by clicking here. On handling criticism from media and fans… "I think as a quarterback, and especially as a guy that really started at the bottom and has kind of worked my way in in every situation I’ve been in I’ve seen and heard a lot of that. It’s just always important, the message that  I send to other guys, guys that I’ve played with or guys that I’ve talked to, it’s the confidence that you have in yourself. You’ve got to have confidence, you’ve got to believe, and you’ve got to go out there and play. Ignore the noise, ignore everything that goes on outside, and have confidence in who you are and why you are in the situation you’re in, and just continue to go out there and work hard and make plays." "At this point in my career it really doesn’t affect me. I have at this point done a lot of different things, but I take a lot of pride and criticize myself harder than anybody else does, so I think that in itself is what helps me through it too…is being your harshest critic. Knowing that there’s things that I need to continue to work on, and there have been some things that we’ve done that have been pretty good. It’s eliminating the bad plays and having more of the good plays." On the Titans defense being familiar with his tendencies… "It’s almost the same thing I guess. As I said with Buffalo, sitting there watching the tape I’m very familiar with most of their players on defense. There’s a lot of the same faces from last year, and they are very familiar with me so I don’t know if there is an edge one way or the other just because I’ve got a good feel for a lot of those guys and I’m sure they have a good feel for me. I know McCourty knows some of my tricks and Griff and a guy like George Wilson…we played together for five years so they’ll certainly know me and my tendencies and things so it’ll be an interesting thing to watch." On having a handful of bad plays cause losses… "We’ve got to get back on track here in terms of winning some games. You look at every game and all the sudden it comes down to three or four plays, mistakes by us, great plays by the other team, whatever it is. That’s the NFL for you, and we’ve been on the bad end of it for the last few weeks here and we’ve got to turn that around." Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-22 Ryan Fitzpatrick: "The Titans Know All My Tricks" - Ryan Fitzpatrick: "The Titans Know All My Tricks" The Palm Beach Post
    2014-10-22 Texans-Titans Preview - From what first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has observed, people surrounding the Tennessee Titans organization expected failure even before the season began. CSN Houston
    2014-10-22 NFL Week 8 Game Capsule: Texans v. Titans - Fresh off their third loss in a row, the Houston Texans prepare to travel to Nashville for a divisional matchup against the Titans. Take a look inside the numbers. Courtesy of NFL Communications, I give you these numbers, notes, and food for thought as your Houston Texans look to end their three-game losing streak in Tennessee on Sunday against the Titans: TEXANS TITANS SERIES LEADER 15-9 STREAKS 3 of past 4 COACHES VS. OPP. O’Brien: 0-0 Whisenhunt: 1-0 LAST WEEK L 30-23 at Steelers L 19-17 at Redskins LAST GAME 12/29/13: Texans 10 at Titans 16. Tennessee RB Chris Johnson rushes for 127 yards & TD. Titans K Rob Bironas converts all 3 FG attempts (42, 55, 37). LAST GAME AT SITE 12/29/13 BROADCAST FOX (12:00 PM CT): Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa (Field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Lee, Ross Tucker. SIRIUS: 137 (Hou.), 125 (Ten.). XM: 229 (Ten.).  PASSING Fitzpatrick: 125-192-1530-8-7-88.2 Locker: 65-112-764-4-4-75.9 RUSHING Foster: 126-615 (1C)-4.9-5 (1C) Sankey: 66-267-4.0-1 RECEIVING A. Johnson: 39-496-12.7-1 Wright: 32-297-9.3-4 OFFENSE 345.0 320.3 TAKE/GIVE +2 +2 DEFENSE 387.3 371.6 SACKS Watt: 5 Casey: 4 INTs 6 tied: 1 3 tied: 2 (T3C) PUNTING Lechler: 48.1 (1C) Kern: 44.8 KICKING Bullock: 53 (17/17 PAT; 12/14 FG) Succop: 43 (13/13 PAT; 10/12 FG) TEXANS: QB RYAN FITZPATRICK played 11 games with 9 starts for Titans in 2013, passing for 2,454 yards & 14 TDs. In last meeting versus the Titans (10/21/11 with Buf.), he completed 27 of 35 passes (77.1 pct.) for 225 yards with 3 TDs vs. 1 INT for 109.8 rating. In 5 career starts vs. Ten., RB ARIAN FOSTER averages 136.8 scrimmage yards per game (684 total; 461 rush, 223 rec.) with 6 total TDs (5 rush, 1 rec.). He has rushed for 100+ in 5 of 6 games in 2014. Since 2010, Foster leads NFL with 47 rush TDs & has 5,421 rush yards, the most in AFC. In past 10 vs. Tennessee, WR ANDRE JOHNSON has 64 catches for 806 yards & 6 TDs. For his career, he averages 6 catches/game, the best in NFL history (min. 100 games). 'Dre had 77 receiving yards last week & now has 13,157 career, surpassing HOFer STEVE LARGENT (13,089) for No. 14 all-time. WR DE ANDRE HOPKINS has 18 receptions for 287 yards in past 3 on road. In 19 career games vs. AFC South, DE J.J. WATT has 20.5 sacks, 3 FF & 4 FR. Since 2012, Watt leads NFL with 36 sacks. LB BRIAN CUSHING leads the team with 50 tackles. LB WHITNEY MERCILUS had 2 sacks last week. TITANS: In his last meeting against the Texans (9/15/13), QB JAKE LOCKER had 2 TD passes & 92.1 rating. QB CHARLIE WHITEHURST had 2 TD passes for a 91.8 rating last week. He aims for his 4th game in row with 87+ rating. RB SHONN GREENE has 3,908 career rush yards & needs 92 to reach 4,000 for his career. Rookie RB BISHOP SANKEY (Rd. 2, No. 54 overall) rushed for a team-high 56 yards vs. Washington. WR KENDALL WRIGHT led the team with 6 receptions for 68 yards & TD last week. He has 5+ catches in 4 of past 5 games. Since joining Titans in 2009, WR NATE WASHINGTON leads the team in catches (280), receiving yards (4,113) & TD catches (26). Last week, WR DEREK HAGAN had 45 receiving yards & scored his 1st TD since joining Titans. TE DELANIE WALKER leads AFC TEs in receiving yards (438) & has 31 catches. S MICHAEL GRIFFIN leads the team with 48 tackles, including 6 tackles & a sack last week. DT SAMIE HILL had a sack last week. LB DERRICK MORGAN aims for 3rd in row with sack vs. Houston. LB WESLEY WOODYARD had an INT last week. Texans vs Titans coverage Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-22 Texans-Titans Preview - From what first-year coach Ken Whisenhunt has observed, people surrounding the Tennessee Titans organization expected failure even before the... SI.com Top Stories
    2014-10-22 Johnson defends Fitzpatrick, says everyone needs to play better - Bill O’Brien has implied that Ryan Fitzpatrick made wrong reads on plays where Andre Johnson was open for what could have been significant gains and Fitzpatrick also admitted he needed to do a better job of finding Johnson. But Johnson himself declined to complain. If anything, he came to Fitzpatrick’s defense. “When you don’t win, everybody needs to look at themselves and see what they can do better,” he said. “We all need to pick our play up, fix the mistakes we’re making and do what we need to do to win. You can’t dwell on one person or one guy. Head coaches and quarterbacks are going to get the [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-22 Ryan Fitzpatrick lauds Titans QB Jake Locker for his toughness - Ryan Fitzpatrick’s tour of his former teams continues Sunday when the Texans play at Tennessee. But Fitzpatrick admits his emotions won’t run as high as they did for Buffalo a month ago, when he was captured on camera making a wildly impassioned pregame speech. “There’s certainly not as many stirrings of emotions going on, for a variety of reasons,” he said, adding that if he does address the Texans again, “It will probably be behind closed doors.” Fitzpatrick signed with the Titans last year as Jake Locker’s backup after spending four seasons as the Bills’ starter. But he wound up starting nine games for Tennessee when Locker first suffered a [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-22 Houston Texans Snap Count Report, Week 7: Cushing Come Back! - The Houston Texans played the last prime time game of the season last Monday; here's how Bill O'Brien and Romeo Crennel deployed their roster. Offense Name POS Snaps PCT% Season Snaps Season % Snaps PCT% Duane Brown T 63 100 439 99 5 16 Derek Newton T 63 100 441 100 5 16 Tyson Clabo T 5 1 5 16 Brandon Brooks G 63 100 387 87 Ben Jones G 63 100 427 96 Xavier Su'a-Filo G 73 16 5 16 Chris Myers C 63 100 441 100 Ryan Fitzpatrick QB 63 100 438 99 Ryan Mallett QB 4 0 Andre Johnson WR 62 98 403 91 DeAndre Hopkins WR 58 92 421 95 Damaris Johnson WR 34 54 173 39 Keshawn Martin WR 8 13 109 24 4 12 Arian Foster RB 56 89 296 67 Jonathan Grimes RB 40 9 15 47 Alfred Blue RB 7 11 105 23 19 59 Garrett Graham TE 59 94 290 65 7 22 C.J. Fiedorowicz TE 24 38 230 52 5 16 Ryan Griffin TE 2 3 60 13 5 16 J.J. Watt TE 1 2 4 0 8 25 Jay Prosch FB 4 6 71 16 It's been a very short seven weeks of the season, and the offense has been relatively healthy throughout. With this in mind, we can look at their stats with plenty of confidence that they're representative of their talent level. So let's take a look. Offensive YPG: 345, 19th in the league Passing YPG: 216, 25th Rushing YPG: 129, 8th Points Per Game: 20thThird Down Pct: 36.4%, 26th Arian Foster shimmying and slicing through defenses serves as the only saving grace of an otherwise well-below average offense. The issues at quarterback are well-documented and not worth going into now.  Mostly because there's plenty of blame to go around. Garrett Graham has been completely ineffectual. Chris Myers is getting pushed around quite a bit. Andre Johnson, bless him, isn't the game-changer he once was. DeAndre Hopkins has been as advertised, but has been hampered by a weak passing game. Unfortunately, he's the only infusion of young talent on the roster. Xavier Su'a-Filo, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Jay Prosch simply aren't ready (or all that important in the case of Prosch) to contribute to a highly-efficient offense. Defense Name POS Snaps PCT% Season Snaps Season % Snaps PCT% D.J. Swearinger FS 63 97 465 94 7 22 Kendrick Lewis FS 65 100 477 97 9 28 Danieal Manning S 18 28 217 44 15 47 Kareem Jackson CB 64 98 459 93 5 16 Johnathan Joseph CB 52 80 397 80 J.J. Watt DE 64 98 384 78 8 25 Tim Jamison DE 19 29 233 47 5 16 Jared Crick DE 44 68 303 61 8 25 Brooks Reed LB 35 54 370 75 7 22 Brian Cushing LB 51 78 366 74 5 16 A.J. Bouye CB 18 28 182 37 8 25 Whitney Mercilus LB 65 100 405 82 14 44 Mike Mohamed LB 36 55 210 42 17 53 Jadeveon Clowney LB 23 4 Jerrell Powe NT 17 26 163 33 6 19 Ryan Pickett DT 29 45 121 24 8 25 Justin Tuggle LB 26 40 192 39 14 44 John Simon LB 8 12 34 6 15 47 Andre Hal DB 30 46 127 25 14 44 Darryl Morris CB 100 20 Jeoffery Pagan DE 7 11 49 9 Jeff Tarpinian LB 36 7 19 59 Eddie Pleasant SS 13 2 20 62 Elbert Mack CB 3 5 9 1 19 59 Jumal Rolle CB Josh Aubrey SS Akeem Dent LB 1 2 1 1 19 59 Watching Brian Cushing whiff and chase after LeVeon Bell multiple times was pretty sad. His knee injuries have seemingly robbed him of all his speed. Bill O'Brien remains hopeful though: I think in dealing with a lot of these guys over the years that are coming off of knee injuries, that first year back, it always takes them awhile to get back into the swing of things. I think if you look back at some of the guys I’ve dealt with that have come off of knee injuries, maybe it is eight, nine games into it where they’re truly trusting their knee and they’re full-speed. For now though, it's been Mike Mohamed and Justin Tuggle as the all-important linebacker in dime coverage. This is absolutely less than ideal.  Get well soon, Cushing. Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-22 #Texans' Ryan Fitzpatrick lauds #Titans QB Jake Locker for his toughness http://t.co/fRx3S4L5JC #NFL - None twitter
    2014-10-22 Fitzpatrick on facing former team, more - QB Ryan Fitzpatrick met with the media Wednesday at NRG Stadium. Houston Texans
    2014-10-22 Fitzpatrick on facing former team, more - QB Ryan Fitzpatrick met with the media Wednesday at NRG Stadium. Houston Texans
    2014-10-22 Houston Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s latest (and telling) 1-32 quarterback ranking - Every week, from now through the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, the editors at cover32 will gather to rank the NFL’s 32 starting quarterbacks. Depending on what’s happened the previous week, some will rise and some will fall, and even some of the names on the list will change. It’s a never-ending evolution, as the status of the league’s top signal callers is always in flux. Seven weeks into the 2014 season, here’s how the starting quarterbacks in the NFL shake out: 1. Peyton Manning – Manning’s record-setting night against the 49ers was a quarterback clinic, showing he’s still the best in the business. (LW: 1) 2. Aaron Rodgers - Right now, the Packers are absolutely cruising to wins, led by their cool-customer QB, who is playing better than ever. (LW: 2) 3. Andrew Luck – Nobody is putting up better numbers than Luck who has the Colts rolling after five straight wins. (LW: 3) 4. Tony Romo – When a guy has led his team to the best record in the league, it’s worthy of praise. No matte YardBarker
    2014-10-22 Ryan Fitzpatrick calls Jake Locker very instinctive, one of the toughest guys he's been around, despite the injuries. #Texans #Titans - None twitter
    2014-10-22 Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is Not Who We Thought He Was Going to Be - When the Houston Texans signed journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fans of the team everywhere let out a collective groan. With the exception of one really good season in Buffalo he--well, he wasn't that good. He was good enough to be a back-up maybe, but if he was your starting quarterback you better have a solid defense and a good running game.Opinions were pretty low of the bearded Ivy League graduate, and while he has not done a lot to make them better he really hasn't been that bad.@SBNationGIF/TwitterRead more » YardBarker
    2014-10-22 Fantasy football rankings, Week 8: Quarterbacks - The SB Nation Fantasy staff stacks up the quarterbacks for Week 8. Though fantasy football leagues were turned upside-down with Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick cracking the top 10 in points among quarterbacks for Week 7, no one could touch Seattle's Russell Wilson, who continues his tremendous season by racking up points on the ground as well as through the air. Wilson dominated the St. Louis Rams in a losing effort, racking up 313 passing yards, 106 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Wilson's on pace to rush for a whopping 872 yards and is now above Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers in fantasy points per game. His recent success is reflected in our staff's QB rankings for Week 8 in a juicy matchup versus the Carolina Panthers. Elsewhere, Joe Flacco, who has recently flashed the form of his dominant 2012 postseason run, is expected to turn back into a pumpkin once the Baltimore Ravens hit the road versus a struggling Cincinnati Bengals defense. Flacco's Week 7 opponent, Matt Ryan, also took a plunge down the rankings after going his third straight week of scoring just one touchdown. How do the rest stack up? Have a look below: Quarterback rankings, Week 8 (DK: Daniel Kelley; DC: Dan Ciarrocchi; SK: Scott Kaliska; John Daigle has the week off) Rank Consensus Team Opponent DK DC SK 1 Peyton Manning DEN SD 1 1 1 2 Aaron Rodgers GB @NO 3 2 2 3 Andrew Luck IND @PIT 2 3 3 4 Drew Brees NO GB 6 4 4 5 Tony Romo DAL WAS 4 6 8 6 Russell Wilson SEA @CAR 8 5 5 7 Philip Rivers SD @DEN 5 8 6 8 Tom Brady NE CHI 7 7 7 9 Nick Foles PHI @ARI 12 9 9 10 Jay Cutler CHI @NE 11 10 10 11 Matthew Stafford DET ATL (London) 10 11 11 12 Cam Newton CAR SEA 9 13 13 13 Carson Palmer ARI PHI 14 12 12 14 Ryan Tannehill MIA @JAC 13 15 14 15 Joe Flacco BAL @CIN 15 14 15 16 Matt Ryan ATL DET (London) 18 16 17 17 Alex Smith KAN STL 19 17 18 18 Ben Roethlisberger PIT IND 21 18 16 19 Kyle Orton BUF @NYJ 16 20 19 20 Mike Glennon TAM MIN 17 21 22 21 Andy Dalton CIN BAL 22 19 20 22 Teddy Bridgewater MIN @TAM 23 24 21 23 Brian Hoyer CLE OAK 20 25 25 24 Austin Davis STL @KAN -- 22 23 25 Derek Carr OAK @CLE -- 23 -- -- Jake Locker TEN HOU 25 -- 24 -- Blake Bortles JAC MIA 24 -- -- SB Nation
    2014-10-22 Texans sticking with Fitzpatrick, but Mallett getting reps - The Houston Texans sound like they're committed to Ryan Fitzpatrick with Ryan Mallett waiting in the wings. Despite their recent struggles, the Houston Texans are sticking with starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for the time being. After winning just two games a year ago, everything was looking good for the Texans after their 3-1 start to this season. Behind a dominant defense and a run-heavy offense led by a game-managing Fitzpatrick, Houston made quick work of three mediocre teams in Washington, the Raiders and the Bills. However, once the schedule got tougher, the losses started coming, and the Texans have now dropped three straight to the likes of the Colts, Steelers and Cowboys. Still, head coach Bill O'Brien isn't ready to give up on Fitzpatrick in favor of backup Ryan Mallett just yet, via the official team website: "Fitzy is our quarterback and when you look at our tape, again, you cannot just point to one position and say that’s the position that is at fault. There are a lot of positions that need to play better; we need to coach better, all those different things. It all goes into why sometimes we stall offensively. It’s not one guy." Anytime a team endures a losing streak, there are usually questions surrounding the starting quarterback, especially when it's clear Fitzpatrick isn't a franchise quarterback. O'Brien did admit that Mallett is continuing to improve and practice while getting more acclimated to the offense, and he'll keep giving Mallet reps in practice, saying: "So we’re going to continue to work with both of these guys in practice and we’ll see how it improves and hopefully it will get better and better and that will help our offense get better." Mallett was acquired prior to the start of the season for the Patriots, where O'Brien was the offensive coordinator when New England drafted Mallett in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He has yet to start a game in his NFL career. SB Nation
    2014-10-22 Mailbag: Are the Texans finished, team issues? - Alex, at 3-4 and losing three straight games (all to good teams,) should we consider the Houston Texans finished in terms of making the playoffs? Joe, Seattle Hi Joe, Obviously it’s far too early to write them off, but my early indication is they won’t make it. Not only is Ryan Fitzpatrick terrible, and the defense can’t stop anything unless J.J. Watt is involved, but the AFC is a tough conference. Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Denver and New England all have five wins. Pittsburgh is 4-3. Cincinnati is 3-2-1. Kansas City is 3-3. Buffalo is 4-3. All of those teams are better than Houston, who still has to play Philadelphia, Baltimore and Indianapolis as quality teams down the stretch. I don’t see how in the world they’ll overcome those other teams and make it. Alex, what is the Texans main issue that’s causing a self-destruction? Fred, Houston Hi Fred, I think the biggest problem is the defense. We can blame Ryan Fitzpatrick all we want, but it’s the defense that couldn’t stop the Giants, YardBarker
    2014-10-22 Mailbag: Are the Texans finished, team issues? - Alex, at 3-4 and losing three straight games (all to good teams,) should we consider the Houston Texans finished in terms of making the playoffs? Joe, Seattle Hi Joe, Obviously it’s far too early to write them off, but my early indication is they won’t make it. Not only is Ryan Fitzpatrick terrible, and the defense can’t stop anything unless J.J. Watt is involved, but the AFC is a tough conference. Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Denver and New England all have five wins. Pittsburgh is 4-3. Cincinnati is 3-2-1. Kansas City is 3-3. Buffalo is 4-3. All of those teams are better than Houston, who still has to play Philadelphia, Baltimore and Indianapolis as quality teams down the stretch. I don’t see how in the world they’ll overcome those other teams and make it. Alex, what is the Texans main issue that’s causing a self-destruction? Fred, Houston Hi Fred, I think the biggest problem is the defense. We can blame Ryan Fitzpatrick all we want, but it’s the defense that couldn’t stop the Giants, YardBarker
    2014-10-22 Mailbag: Are the Texans finished, team issues? - Alex, at 3-4 and losing three straight games (all to good teams,) should we consider the Houston Texans finished in terms of making the playoffs? Joe, Seattle Hi Joe, Obviously it’s far too early to write them off, but my early indication is they won’t make it. Not only is Ryan Fitzpatrick terrible, and the defense can’t stop anything unless J.J. Watt is involved, but the AFC is a tough conference. Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Denver and New England all have five wins. Pittsburgh is 4-3. Cincinnati is 3-2-1. Kansas City is 3-3. Buffalo is 4-3. All of those teams are better than Houston, who still has to play Philadelphia, Baltimore and Indianapolis as quality teams down the stretch. I don’t see how in the world they’ll overcome those other teams and make it. Alex, what is the Texans main issue that’s causing a self-destruction? Fred, Houston Hi Fred, I think the biggest problem is the defense. We can blame Ryan Fitzpatrick all we want, but it’s the defense that couldn’t stop the Giants, YardBarker
    2014-10-22 2015 NFL Mock Draft: Latest Predictions Before Week 8 - Another week's action has made the needs of every NFL team even more glaring than the week before, and the latest 2015 NFL mock draft reflects the way each team should address the holes on their rosters. Of course, things can change over the next few months. The 2015 NFL draft doesn't start until April 30. There's plenty of time for teams to fix their issues and scout the next crop of league talent. While the end of April may seem far down the road, that doesn't mean it's too early to get a good look at how the first round of the draft could look. *Note: Draft order is based on current NFL Super Bowl odds, courtesy of OddsShark.com.   1. Oakland Raiders: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M Texas A&M has been a breeding ground for quality NFL linemen in recent years, and Cedric Ogbuehi figures to make a difference at the next level as well. He's been the consensus No. 1 pick for quite some time, but his flaws are beginning to show. Bleacher Report's Scott Carasik is beginning to question if he'll even go in the first round: He stays No. 1 overall for now because of his past success and his potential, but look for him to begin a long slide down draft boards if this keeps up. The Raiders need big men to protect Derek Carr in the pocket, so they could look his way at No. 1.   2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon Mike Glennon and Josh McCown can throw the football, but it will be difficult for the Buccaneers to pass on a talent like Marcus Mariota. The Oregon quarterback is mobile and can chuck the ball accurately down the field, making him a perfect fit in an offense with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans catching passes. The Heisman candidate has yet to throw an interception this season. He has 19 touchdowns and 1,957 passing yards. He also has five rushing touchdowns. Tampa Bay didn't invest much in the current signal-callers on the roster, so don't be surprised if they select Mariota to compete with Glennon and McCown.   3. New York Jets: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama Geno Smith still needs more weapons. Eric Decker has been a decent addition. Percy Harvin might help as well. But the fact remains that Smith needs guys who can go up and get the football. It may seem like a stretch to take Amari Cooper at No. 3, but the other players projected in this range don't fit what the Jets need. That is, of course, unless John Idzik and head coach Rex Ryan decide that Smith isn't the guy the franchise can trust moving forward. But that seems unlikely.   4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DE, USC Leonard Williams is an absolute animal. He's a versatile lineman who can excel in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He can create havoc off the edge given his speed and power. He can also burst through the middle and disrupt the quarterback. There isn't much he can't do. As a result, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has him ranked highly: The Jaguars could use some ferocity on defense, and Williams will provide them with just that.   5. Tennessee Titans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State Jameis Winston will likely declare for the draft, making him a candidate to go within the top five picks. A handful of teams should be in the market for quarterbacks in that range, and the Tennessee Titans are certainly one of them. Jake Locker can't be relied upon anymore. The experiment was given plenty of time to yield the preferred results, but nothing positive materialized. It's time to move on.   6. Minnesota Vikings: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia Unquestionably one of the best runners to come out of college in years, Todd Gurley would provide a huge boost to the Vikings rushing attack. Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata currently do the bulk of the work for Minnesota, and it's undeniable that Gurley would help take the pressure off Teddy Bridgewater.   7. Washington Redskins: Landon Collins, S, Alabama Landon Collins is a safety who can make plays and attack the ball, and his ferocity would be a welcome addition to a Washington defense that doesn't boast strong play in the secondary. Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather have underperformed, meaning that the team could replace Clark with Collins in the draft.   8. St. Louis Rams: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State Nobody could have predicted how well Austin Davis would play behind Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill this season, but the Rams cannot rely on him moving forward. In fact, they shouldn't rely on any of the aforementioned quarterbacks. St. Louis will look for a quarterback early in Round 1. They have to if they want to get back to relevance. Connor Cook or Brett Hundley will likely be the available names, at which point it will be a matter of preference. Cook can throw the ball downfield and command attention in the huddle, something this young offense desperately needs.   9. Houston Texans: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA Ryan Fitzpatrick is not capable of leading an NFL offense. Head coach Bill O'Brien needs a quarterback who can get the ball to Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins with regularity. Brett Hundley can do that. The junior has completed 72.5 percent of his passes for the 5-2 UCLA Bruins, tossing 13 touchdowns and racking up 1,856 yards. Maybe not a Week 1 starter, Hundley should develop quickly and take over the Texans offense next season.   10. Atlanta Falcons: Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson Outside linebacker is an obvious area of need for the Falcons, as Prince Shembo and Jonathan Massaquoi haven't played well enough to make a difference. Clemson's Vic Beasley is an immediate upgrade over both Shembo and Massaquoi. He can use his speed to effectively get off the edge and create pressure in the backfield, but he can also play well enough in coverage against tight ends and as a spy against running backs. This is a no-brainer if Beasley is still available.   11. Cleveland Browns: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia With Beasley off the board just one pick earlier, the Browns will go to the next-best outside linebacker available. Leonard Floyd is quick with decent power, but his small frame has raised some questions about his ability to translate into the NFL. CBS Sports' Dane Brugler is one of the questioners: It's a risk the Browns can take, however, as the likes of Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger will help to hide his weaknesses.   12. New York Giants: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska The best Giants teams of the past decade possessed suffocating pass rushes that made life for opposing quarterbacks miserable. They don't have that this season. Randy Gregory is a hybrid defensive end who can also line up at linebacker. Bleacher Report's Dan Hope says that all has to do with his athleticism: Gregory can be a spark plug on this defense next season if taken at No. 12.   13. Miami Dolphins: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa The play of the Dolphins offensive line has been a problem for a few years now, and they're only a few pieces away from having a respectable unit. Many consider Brandon Scherff one of the safest picks in the entire draft, as CBS Sports' Rob Rang pointed out: Scherff's balance in the running and passing games will help Lamar Miller and Ryan Tannehill flourish.   14. Chicago Bears: Marcus Peters, CB, Washington Kyle Fuller has been strong as a rookie in the secondary, and his success could lead the Bears to go with a cornerback with the first pick yet again. Marcus Peters likely won't make an impact right away, but he'll blossom into a serviceable corner.   15. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo Bills): Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan The Bills and Browns made a trade last draft that netted Buffalo Sammy Watkins. This pick was sent Cleveland's way as part of the compensation for Watkins, and the Browns will now use it to take a wideout of their own. Devin Funchess can make plays, because he catches nearly everything he can get his hands on. Brian Hoyer (or Johnny Manziel) will need playmakers in 2015 to maintain the fluidity of the offense. Funchess will help.   16. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon The Steelers need a big boost in the secondary. They need guys who can outplay the likes of Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen, William Gay and Brice McCain. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu can do that right out of the gate. The Oregon product would have gone in Round 1 last year had he declared, but another season with the Ducks will only help his game. He has the speed and coverage ability to get a fast start to his NFL career.   17. Carolina Panthers: Nelson Agholor, WR, USC Kelvin Benjamin has been everything Cam Newton could have asked for in a wide receiver, but it's clear the passing game in Carolina is still lacking. Pairing Benjamin with another young wideout like Nelson Agholor would help to make the air attack more complete.   18. Kansas City Chiefs: Shane Ray, DE, Missouri The Chiefs could stand to improve at defensive end, and they'll have a choice at No. 18. Shane Ray and Shilique Calhoun should both be available, but it will ultimately be the acceleration of Ray that catches K.C.'s eye. Ray gets a strong first push against offensive tackles because of how quickly his motor gets going, making him a force in the backfield. The Chiefs' dominant defense was a huge reason why they were so good in 2013, and getting back to that wouldn't be a bad strategy.   19. New Orleans Saints: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State Calhoun is a beast at defensive end. He's ferocious off the edge, as he doesn't just tackle the quarterback or ball-carrier—he levels them. The Saints haven't had as good a defense this season as they thought they would, so improvements are on the horizon. Calhoun will play from Day 1, and he will play well.   20. Cincinnati Bengals: P.J. Williams, CB, Florida State Leon Hall and Terence Newman have 20 years of experience between them in the secondary. That's useful for young corners, but it also creates the need for younger ones. The Bengals have Darqueze Dennard waiting for a larger role, but the team would benefit from adding another young corner. Florida State's P.J. Williams plays very good coverage and is serviceable against the run.   21. Detroit Lions: Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State Williams' teammate with the Seminoles, Ronald Darby would fill an immediate need for the Lions. Detroit's secondary has suffered from running Darius Slay and Cassius Vaughn out there opposite Rashean Mathis, who is in his 12th year. Getting younger (and better) in the secondary is imperative this offseason for Detroit. Darby will come in and start from Day 1.   22. Arizona Cardinals: Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Florida Not many players earn the type of public respect that Dante Fowler did from Alabama head coach Nick Saban. GatorZone.com's Scott Carter provided his Twitter followers with the quote from the coach: Defensive linemen who can get after the football are what Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians loves, and Fowler will just add to an already strong unit that features Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker and Dan Williams.   23. Baltimore Ravens: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin By no means has Justin Forsett been bad, but the Ravens simply need a more reliable back to shoulder the load. Forsett is a nice depth back, but Melvin Gordon is a three-down guy who can pick up big yardage anytime he touches the ball. Gordon runs a whole lot like Jamaal Charles. That's a bold comparison, but one the Ravens shouldn't mind watching pan out.   24. Philadelphia Eagles: Lorenzo Mauldin, DE/OLB, Louisville The Eagles have done a good job of getting after the quarterback in 2014, ranking eighth in the NFL with 19 sacks. Adding more pressure off the edge would put the pass rush over the top. Lorenzo Mauldin already has six sacks for Louisville this season. He is persistent in his attempts to get to the quarterback, something that the Eagles will certainly appreciate.   25. San Francisco 49ers: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford It seems like the 49ers are in the market for a wideout every offseason. Anquan Boldin continues to age, though, so San Francisco would be smart to prepare for his future decline. Ty Montgomery has a nice combination of size (6'2", 215 pounds) and speed. As a junior in 2013, Montgomery hauled in 10 touchdowns and racked up 958 yards on 61 catches. He's also a skilled kick returner.   26. San Diego Chargers: Michael Bennett, DT, Ohio State Michael Bennett is a safe pick at the end of Round 1 given his ability to play tough in the trenches. His power is good, as is his persistence at getting to the man with the ball. The Chargers already have an above-average defense, but there's nothing wrong with adding a little more beef in the middle.   27. New England Patriots: Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford Tom Brady has turned it on in recent weeks, but the struggles of his offensive line are still apparent. Andrus Peat would be a top-15 pick if he were more consistent, but the Patriots shouldn't have a problem with his fall to No. 27. Peat is a natural tackle given his size and athleticism. He'll help protect Brady as he continues to show the NFL that age is but a number.   28. Indianapolis Colts: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa The Colts have struggled getting to the quarterback in 2014 because of the injury to Robert Mathis. That'll fix itself in 2015 when he returns, but adding depth to the defensive line would make Mathis even better. Carl Davis is a good option for Indy because he'll command attention from the center and a guard, therefore making Mathis' job easier on the edge.   29. Seattle Seahawks: Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn Russell Wilson's receiving options are dwindling. Percy Harvin is gone. Golden Tate left last offseason. It's now up to Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Ricardo Lockette and Paul Richardson to make all the plays. The defending champions have struggled this season on both offense and defense. Adding a deep weapon like Sammie Coates would help make the offense more versatile, as pounding the ball with Marshawn Lynch would open up the play-action pass for Coates.   30. Dallas Cowboys: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington Shaq Thompson is a candidate to climb up draft boards if he continues his strong play at Washington, but he's a good fit for the Cowboys if he stays at the end of Round 1. Dallas' defense has improved since last season, but there's still some work to do up front. Thompson can work off the edge to make plays.   31. Green Bay Packers: Benardrick McKinney, LB, Mississippi State Benardrick McKinney is a tough linebacker who shows no mercy on those with the football. He plays well in the middle of a defense and would be a nice depth option for the Packers. Once given an opportunity to start, McKinney likely won't relinquish it.   32. Denver Broncos: La'el Collins, OT, LSU La'el Collins is a three-year starter on LSU's offensive line. He has plenty of experience, something the veteran Broncos should appreciate when it comes time to draft. Peyton Manning has been excellent this season, but adding more pass protection will help him stay comfortable in the pocket as he shoots to be the first quarterback to ever throw 600 touchdowns. He can't reach that remarkable number if he gets hit under center.   Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BRRead more NFL news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-22 Texans coach Bill O'Brien backs Ryan Fitzpatrick as starter - Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has won an important vote of confidence.Head coach Bill O'Brien affirmed Tuesday Fitzpatrick would remain the team's starting quarterback in spite of Houston's 3-4 record after three straight losses. "Fitzy is our quarterback,” O'Brien told reporters.Fitzpatrick was named the Texans' starter on June 17, and has so far fended off backup Ryan Mallett. "We’re going to continue to work with both of these guys in practice, and we’ll see how it improves. And hopefully, it will get better and better, and that will help our offense get better."Through seven games, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,530 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing 65.1% of his passes. Houston will try to get back on track Sunday, facing off against its AFC South-rival Tennessee Titans.Copyright © 2014 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license. theScore NFL
    2014-10-22 Bill O’Brien: We’ll work both guys in practice, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is our quarterback - The Texans have lost three straight games and four of their last five, which isn’t helping their chances of making the playoffs. It also isn’t hurting Ryan Fitzpatrick’s chances of remaining the team’s starting quarterback. Texans coach Bill O’Brien was asked at his Wednesday press conference about the circumstances that would lead to Ryan Mallett… Pro Football Talk
    2014-10-22 Bill O'Brien: We'll work both guys in practice, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is our quarterback http://t.co/6t3wolTt5H - None twitter
    2014-10-22 Bill O'Brien intent on sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB - Despite losing three straight, Houston is not yet looking for Ryan Mallett to save the day. NFL
    2014-10-22 Bill O'Brien: Ryan Fitzpatrick 'is our quarterback' - Despite losing three straight, Houston is not yet looking for Ryan Mallett to save the day. NFL
    2014-10-22 Houston Texans News: October 22, 2014 - Your one-stop shop for Houston Texans, local sports, and news from around the league for Wednesday, October 22, 2014. Houston Texans News Bill O’Brien on Texans two biggest concernsLess than 24 hours after a devastating 30-23 loss at Pittsburgh, head coach Bill O’Brien still had confidence in his team, one that he firmly believes is still mentally tough. Texans Prove to Be Playoff Pretender in Disappointing Loss to Steelers | Bleacher ReportThree weeks later, the Texans are 3-4 and find themselves adrift on the outskirts of the playoff picture after three losses that were not as close as the scores indicated. Houston Texans handcuffed at QB with Ryan Fitzpatrick at helm | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo SportsFrom Yahoo Sports: The Houston Texans certainly know he's not the future, but is quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick even the present? Texans fantasy football recap: Arian Foster is still king in Houston - SBNation.comThe Houston Texans are on a three-game losing streak courtesy of another loss on "Monday Night Football" to the Pittsburgh Steelers. We break down the fantasy implications. Steelers' defense rebounds after shaky 1st quarter, forces Texans into mistakes | TribLIVEAs an angry crowd bemoaned the Steelers' lackluster effort in the first quarter on Monday Night Football at Heinz Field, safety Mike Mitchell figured the defense had to play with a sense of urgency. Mike Tomlin Pleased With Win Over Texans, Sees Room For Improvement " CBS PittsburghSteelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the teams win over the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football and voiced how pleased he was with his teams performance. Texans focused on eliminating mistakes | FOX SportsTexans focused on eliminating mistakes Clowney "feels good", will practice this weekHead coach Bill O'Brien gave an update on Jadeveon Clowney and when he'll likely return. Antonio Brown tweets image showing he had two feet down in the end zone - Behind the Steel CurtainAn image floating around on Twitter appears to show Brown got both feet in bounds on a touchdown catch that was overturned after review in the Steelers' 30-23 win over the Houston Texans Monday. Colorado, UCLA, SJSU and Navy will honor Houston Texans OL David Quessenberry, who is battling cancer | Dr. Saturday - Yahoo SportsFrom Yahoo Sports: All four programs have a tie to Quessenberry and all play each other this weekend. Around the League Breaking Madden Roster Cuts, Week 8: A Big Gulp full o' poop - SBNation.comIn total, 12 of you will be featured in this week's Breaking Madden. If you're one of them, I'm sorry. Let's talk about the worst days at work we've ever had. Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens, claims wrongful termination - SBNation.comThe former running back is also awaiting a hearing to appeal his suspension from the NFL. The Jets want Percy Harvin to be himself - SBNation.comAcquiring Percy Harvin was a relatively low-risk move that could pay big dividends for the struggling Jets. They also made it clear to him that it might be the last chance he gets in the NFL. Everson Griffen earns his first Hoss of the Week - SBNation.comThe Minnesota Vikings pass rusher brought down Kyle Orton three times last Sunday, earning Stephen White's Hoss of the Week Award for Week 7. Cowboys waive Michael Sam - SBNation.comThe Dallas Cowboys parted ways with the former Missouri defensive end, according to the team's web site. NFL power rankings, Week 8: Broncos, Cowboys still on top - SBNation.comComing off a 42-17 win, Denver remains on top in the latest power rankings. Things have not gone as well for a couple of preseason Super Bowl favorites who have now fallen out of the top 10. It's time to quarantine the NFC South - SBNation.comSB Nation's Department of Football Epidemiology has issued several travel alerts this week, starting with the NFL's worst division. Houston & Collegiate Sports Astros Minors: Solid Lancaster JetHawks pitching staff survives desert in route to championship season - The Crawfish BoxesA solid Lancaster pitching staff helped secure a second league championship for the club Rockets impress in preseason loss to Heat, 95-90 - The Dream ShakeThe game doesn't count, so we just want to enjoy how awesome the Rockets' superstars look. Mack Brown gives first in-depth interview since leaving Texas - Burnt Orange NationBrown talks candidly with sports-glutton.com about his time as the head coach at UNC and Texas. The Education of Pete Robertson - Viva The MatadorsThe former high school quarterback has, fairly or unfairly, been the unofficial poster-boy for the much maligned Red Raider defense this season. His improved play in the last three games has been striking, and bodes well for the future. Game Week: Texas Tech Comes To Play - Frogs O' WarIn what's becoming a very solid rivalry Texas Tech comes to Fort Worth, as the Frogs look to get their first win over the Raiders since joining the Big 12. Big 12 fines Baylor SID $1,000 for commenting on its heavily flagged game - SBNation.comThat seems like a bit much. Elijah Thomas Commits to Texas A&M - Good Bull HuntingWe run this state in basketball recruiting. Charlie Strong Era A Failure: Lacks YOLO And Positive Energy - Barking CarnivalCorey the Intern is back. And he's putting Longhorn Nation on blast. Battle Red Blog
    2014-10-22 ICYMI: Brett Keisel vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Beard vs. Beard. ADVANTAGE: Beard http://t.co/kqdKrQHahB - None twitter
    2014-10-22 Texans focused on preventing mistakes - Whether it is turnovers, penalties or problems on defense, the Texans must limit errors if they hope to bounce back from three straight losses on Sunday against Tennessee. San Antonio Express News
    2014-10-22 Fitzpatrick has a stranglehold on QB position - Who do you want to start at QB for the Texans? Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick Backup Ryan Mallett Rookie Tom Savage Other View Results Your vote is being added to the total. Votes are not reflected in the tallies immediately.  Loading ... Houston’s coaches will continue to field Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) Case Keenum and T.J. Yates have departed. Matt Schaub has fallen into the past. Ryan Fitzpatrick has become the one, named the Texans’ starting quarterback in mid-June and holding onto the spot through a 3-4 start to the 2014 season. “Fitzy is our quarterback,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Tuesday [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-22 Unfair to Blame Ryan Fitzpatrick for Texans' Struggles - The Houston Texans opened the season at 3-1 through the first four games before losing the last three games against the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively. Ultimately, they need someone else to score touchdowns besides J.J. Watt. Can they bounce back from this three-loss streak? Who is really to blame for the Texans' struggles?Watch NFL" target="_blank">John McClain of the Houston Chronicle and Bleacher Report's Stephen Nelson discuss the Texans' struggles. Read more Houston Texans news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-22 Texans focused on eliminating mistakes - The Houston Texans made mistakes in almost every area in Monday’s loss to the ... Austin American Statesman
    2014-10-21 Texans focused on eliminating mistakes - The Houston Texans made mistakes in almost every area in Monday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-21 Texans focused on eliminating mistakes - Houston Texans looking to eliminate mistakes that doomed them in three-game losing streak          USA Today
    2014-10-21 Texans coach Bill O’Brien: ‘Fitzy’s our quarterback’ - Who do you want to start at QB for the Texans? Starter Ryan Fitzpatrick Backup Ryan Mallett Rookie Tom Savage Other View Results Your vote is being added to the total. Votes are not reflected in the tallies immediately.  Loading ... —– Texans coach Bill O’Brien again insisted Ryan Fitzpatrick remains his starting quarterback despite the team’s three consecutive losses, but for the first time he might have hinted at the possibility that Ryan Mallett could get playing time in the near future. “I think that Ryan has improved every week,” he said responding to question about Mallett’s status. “He’s getting a better grasp of the things we’re trying to [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-21 O'Brien Backs Fitzpatrick and Talks Mallett - Bill O'Brien addressed the comments made on Monday Night Football about Ryan Mallett and continued to back Ryan Fitzpatrick as the Texans' quarterback. Scout - NFL
    2014-10-21 Texans focused on eliminating mistakes (The Associated Press) - HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Texans made mistakes in almost every area in Monday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yahoo Sports - Pittsburgh Steelers
    2014-10-21 Meltsdown: Fitzpatrick’s Harvard Education Doesn’t Matter On Field - Mike is tired of people bringing up Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Harvard education in regards to football skill. CBS Local
    2014-10-21 Andre Johnson Misses Out On Last Second TD On MNF - Texans receiver Andre Johnson caught five balls for 77 yards.Fantasy Spin:Johnson is still the guy Ryan Fitzpatrick looks for first, but defenses key on him too and he's not quite as good as in past seasons. YardBarker
    2014-10-21 Andre Johnson Misses Out On Last Second TD On MNF - Texans receiver Andre Johnson caught five balls for 77 yards.Fantasy Spin:Johnson is still the guy Ryan Fitzpatrick looks for first, but defenses key on him too and he's not quite as good as in past seasons. YardBarker
    2014-10-21 Andre Johnson Misses Out On Last Second TD On MNF - Texans receiver Andre Johnson caught five balls for 77 yards.Fantasy Spin:Johnson is still the guy Ryan Fitzpatrick looks for first, but defenses key on him too and he's not quite as good as in past seasons. YardBarker
    2014-10-21 Post-Game Sound: Ryan Fitzpatrick - Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick addresses the media during a press conference following Monday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Houston Texans
    2014-10-21 Post-Game Sound: Ryan Fitzpatrick - Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick addresses the media during a press conference following Monday's loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Houston Texans
    2014-10-21 Pro Football Focus gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a +4.1 grade. Wow. - None twitter
    2014-10-21 Targets and Touches: Week 7 Target Watch: AFC - Chet Gresham takes you through the Targets and Touches from Week 7 of the AFC. Fantasy Football Articles - Rotoworld.com
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans handcuffed at QB with Ryan Fitzpatrick at helm http://t.co/kEHQpr7Bep - None twitter
    2014-10-21 The Rundown: Texans Hand Another One Away - The Houston Texans dropped their third consecutive game and handed a win to the Pittsburgh Steelers by giving up another 24-point quarter. Scout - NFL
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans handcuffed at QB with Ryan Fitzpatrick at helm http://t.co/a4tSf2Db4W #NFL - None twitter
    2014-10-21 When Will the Houston Texans Flip the Switch and Start QB Ryan Mallett? - The quarterback situation has been a question mark for the Houston Texans all season. It was evident the team did not entirely trust Ryan Fitzpatrick after trading for Ryan Mallett just before Week 1.  How have the Houston Texans evaluated Ryan Fitzpatrick? When will Ryan Mallett get a start for the Texans? Who is the long-term answer for Houston at quarterback? Watch as Stephen Nelson goes in-depth with Bleacher Report NFL Insider Jason Cole in the video above.Read more Houston Texans news on BleacherReport.com brvideo
    2014-10-21 Steelers score three TDs in 73 seconds, stun Texans - Ben Roethlisberger passed for two TDs and Antonio Brown added another during a decisive surge late in the first half.          Cincinnati Enquirer
    2014-10-21 Texans fantasy football recap; Arian Foster is still king in Houston - Texans fantasy football recap; Arian Foster is still king in Houston The Palm Beach Post
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans handcuffed at QB with Ryan Fitzpatrick at helm - The Houston Texans already have surpassed their 2013 win total. They've been a competitive 3-4 club, with three of the four losses coming by one score. They've done so with No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney having missed six straight games and more than half of the one game he did appear in. The Texans have forced 15 turnovers this season, which — incredibly — already has surpassed the 2013 total of 11. Things, you could say, are slightly brighter in Houston than they were a year ago when the team opened with two straight victories and then collapsed for 14 straight losses. [Join FanDuel.com's $2.5M Week 8 fantasy league: $25 to enter; top 21,905 teams paid] But we all know there's still a lot missing. It's easy to pin the Texans' limitations on one man. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the unlikely placeholder at quarterback, has been no different than most observers have expected him to be based on his itinerant track record: effective enough for him to keep a job but maddeningly ineffective for a team that wants to win games via the turnover battle, clock management and game massaging. Right now, Fitzpatrick is a back cracker. He's the chiropractor who gives you temporary relief until you get up out of the office and limp home in tears, with more nerve pain than you walked in with. Five of Fitzpatrick's seven interceptions have come from inside the Texans' own 20-yard line. Those picks have led to 24 points for the opponents. Those points shouldn't be on the defense. He also hasn't been effective at the ends of halves. In the final two minutes of first and second halves of games, Fitzpatrick has thrown two picks and taken three sacks on only 27 dropbacks. Fitting both of those categories Monday night was the inexcusable interception in traffic that ended up in the hands of the Steelers' Brett Keisel. That pick fueled the Steelers' incredible end-of-half flurry that won them the game. It has been the same story most games. Once the opponent realizes that Arian Foster is really the guy they need to stop, Fitzpatrick can sling a few balls, get Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins involved, but the inevitable game-tilting mistake is just around the corner. That's the thing: Fitzpatrick's stats charm casual observers into the whole he's not that awful routine, as he has more passing yards (on fewer attempts) than Cam Newton; more yards per attempt than Aaron Rodgers; a better completion percentage than Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and a host of other starting quarterbacks. But the mistakes and limitations are what undercut most of what he does. They are what hold this team back from taking the proverbial next step offensively. Every time the TV broadcast shows Bill O'Brien looking down at his Denny's menu of play calls, you almost think he's saying to himself, Hmm, what can't I call here?  The Texans certainly know he's not the future, but is Fitzpatrick even the present? We're not aiming to pick on the hirsute Harvardian here, but the Texans had to know what they were getting when they signed him, and that's on O'Brien and GM Rick Smith. What you've seen from Fitz-pick-trick this season is exactly what he has done through his career, now with his fifth NFL team since 2006, having been released by the previous four. There have been calls to the bullpen for Ryan Mallett, who joined the team via trade just before the start of training camp, or for Tom Savage, who barely averaged five yards an attempt in the preseason and has yet to attempt a regular-season pass. Those calls are misaligned. Oh, sure, finding out if Mallett (he of the four career regular-season attempts himself) or Savage can play might not be a bad idea at some point. But it is both haunting and telling that Fitzpatrick likely remains the Texans' best chance right now. A win next week at Tennessee puts them at 4-4 and, at least according to logic, in the race for a playoff spot. But we all know that's not likely to happen. This Texans team has other limitations certainly, and even a major upgrade at quarterback isn't going to magically whisk those away. But it certainly would put the defense in fewer precarious positions and help take advantage of the limited but potent offensive assets the team does have. That solution won't come until 2015, and the options might not be plentiful to be honest. Potential free agent Brian Hoyer leads a shockingly mediocre crop at the position, and his connection to O'Brien from their New England days will lead to a lot of speculation of a match in Houston should the Cleveland Browns opt to crank up the Johnny Football machine next season. But the draft might not be the perfect salve, either. Maybe O'Brien would see something in Michigan State's Connor Cook if he declares, but Cook's inconsistencies have a startlingly Fitzpatrick-esque look to them, and the pricetag still certainly could cost them a first-round selection. Later options that might intrigue the team include East Carolina's Shane Carden and local product Bryce Petty from Baylor, but neither are likely first-year saviors either. What then? Could the Texans — GULP — be forced to go another season with Fitzpatrick (or Mallett or Savage, equal parts gulp themselves) as the opening act for a yet-to-be-named headliner? If so, the reviews for the O'Brien Variety Show might get a bit ugly. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm Shutdown Corner
    2014-10-21 Watching Ryan Fitzpatrick play QB is rough, but vomit inducing? http://t.co/CKTzHvC5uM http://t.co/oxTw2BRKfE - None twitter
    2014-10-21 ICYMI: Brett Keisel, Ryan Fitzpatrick compared beards (Photo) http://t.co/lVOOvDwQbm - None twitter
    2014-10-21 ReFo: Texans @ Steelers, Week 7 - Ben Stockwell wraps up Week 7 with a review of the Texans and Steelers Monday Night Football contest. Pro Football Focus
    2014-10-21 RT @erincoscarelli: It's a beard off! We want 2 know whose beards BETTER? Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick or Pittsburgh's Brett Keisel @NFL_AM h… - None twitter
    2014-10-21 73 Seconds That Shook Pittsburgh - The Steelers went from 10 down to 11 up within the span of 73 seconds to shock the Houston Texans, 30-23. Scout - Pittsburgh Steelers
    2014-10-21 From Earlier: Brett Keisel, Ryan Fitzpatrick compared beards (Photo) http://t.co/lVOOvDwQbm - None twitter
    2014-10-21 Three-minute barrage pushes Pittsburgh past Houston - PITTSBURGH — The deluge started with a desperation third-down heave, a trickle that turned into a downpour and led to another abrupt turn in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ confounding season. tucson.com
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Full Report Card Grades for Houston - What can I say about Ryan Fitzpatrick and his struggles this season that I haven't already said before or after other games? He's a limited player with a short ceiling; we shouldn't be shocked by poor performances from Fitzpatrick. Not surprisingly the mediocre quarterback put up a mediocre stat line with 262 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 98.7 QB rating. Actually that stat line doesn't look mediocre which is another example of how stats can be misleading at times. A 98.7 QB rating is a very good number, but no one can argue with a straight face that Fitzpatrick played well against Pittsburgh. It's time for a change at the quarterback position. I'm not saying that Ryan Mallett will cure all that ails them, but it's clear that Fitzpatrick can't get the job done, so why not give the younger guy with a bigger arm a chance? Grade: C- Bleacher Report
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Full Report Card Grades for Houston - Same story as most of the Texans' games this year: The receivers catch almost everything that hits their hands, but the play from the offensive line and quarterback has limited their opportunities to make plays. Well that at least goes for Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, but unfortunately slot receiver Damaris Johnson dropped a nice pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick that would have put the Texans in a goal-to-go situation. More than just yards, the drop cost the Texans possibly four points as they would have had a first down inside the 10 yard line, but instead had to settle for a field goal early in the fourth quarter while trailing by 11 points. Despite catching the ball well, Hopkins again failed to execute in other painfully damaging ways. Jon Gruden: "That is bad football by DeAndre Hopkins. Put the ball away." — Randy Harvey (@randyharvey) October 21, 2014 The effort to pick up extra yardage is appreciated, but he has to put the ball away. Even on plays before the killer fumble, Hopkins often held the ball with one hand away from his body giving the defender a chance to punch the ball out. Frankly they were lucky that he didn't fumble multiple times. He's a very talented receiver, but he has to work on his ball security. For the game Johnson and Hopkins combined for 11 catches for 185 yards. They have top end talent at the top of the depth chart at receiver, but limited quarterback play, drops and fumbles these last couple weeks has killed their potential impact on winning and losing. Grade: B- Bleacher Report
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Full Report Card Grades for Houston - Solid game overall in the running game with an average of 4.4 yards per carry and 132 rushing yards for the game. The Texans' offensive line also only gave up one sack, so they looked better in pass protection this week than last week against Indianapolis when they allowed five sacks. They weren't perfect however as Ryan Fitzpatrick's ability as a scrambler saved them from giving up a few other sacks, but the allowed pressure still disrupted the play and forced him to move around and get rid of the ball earlier than planned. In particular I thought right tackle Derek Newton had a rough game. Grade: C+ Bleacher Report
    2014-10-21 First-half flurry leads Steelers past Texans, 30-23 - PITTSBURGH — The deluge started with a desperation third-down heave, a trickle that turned into a downpour and led to another abrupt turn in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ confounding season. Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a decisive 73-second stretch late in the first half that moved the Steelers (4-3) from down 10 to an 11-point lead. Ryan Fitzpatrick was 21-for-32 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but the Texans were undone by three turnovers, including consecutive offensive snaps that handed momentum to the Steelers. Roethlisberger then found Martavis Bryant, who struggled staying healthy in the preseason and spent the first six weeks on the inactive list, with a beautiful rainbow that the rookie caught in the back of the end zone to make it 13-10 with 1:27 left. San Francisco Chronicle
    2014-10-21 Turnovers prove costly for Texans in loss to Steelers - DeAndre Hopkins is stripped of the ball by Steelers free safety Mike Mitchell (23) as cornerback Cortez Allen (28) runs over during the fourth quarter. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle) PITTSBURGH – The Texans’ three turnovers killed them. Arian Foster’s fumble set up a touchdown. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s interception set up a touchdown. Trailing 27-16 in a game they eventually lost 30-23, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 32-yard pass over the middle to DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with six receptions for 108 yards. Safety Mike Mitchell stripped the ball from Hopkins, and safety Troy Polamalu recovered it and returned it 13 yards to the Texans’ 39. The Steelers finished the drive with a Shaun [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-21 Steelers Rally Past Stunned Texans, 30-23 - Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers rally for a 30-23 win over the mistake-prone Houston Texans on Monday night. CBS Local
    2014-10-21 Steelers upend Texans with first-half flurry - One dizzying sequence, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were in complete control against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. San Antonio Express News
    2014-10-21 Steelers ride first-half scoring flurry to 30-23 win over Texans - Turnovers on defense and touchdowns on offense have been hard to come by for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. Then came a magical 73 seconds late in the first half and both occurred relentlessly. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-21 Texans Prove to Be Playoff Pretender in Disappointing Loss to Steelers - The Texans entered what would prove to be one of the toughest bits of their schedule three weeks ago when they traveled to Dallas with a chance to be 4-1. Three weeks later, the Texans are 3-4 and find themselves adrift on the outskirts of the playoff picture after three losses that were not as close as the scores indicated. Following their loss to Indianapolis, the Texans limped into this week with just a 16.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, per Football Outsiders. With another loss in hand, Houston finds itself at least a half-game behind every serious AFC wild-card contender, staring at trying to come back from the grave with only the benefit of an AFC South schedule to help them.  To say that the Texans lost this game to the Steelers would be an insult to losses. The Texans instead took a winnable road game with a 13-3 lead and set it on fire. They allowed the Steelers 24 straight points in the last 3:08 of the first half, with running back Arian Foster fumbling near the goal line, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing a tipped interception and the baffling ineptitude that is a two-minute drill in Fitzpatrick's hands.  Here's what that looks like from the guise of win probability. The Texans went from an 83 percent chance of a win to a 17 percent chance. In less than four minutes of game time.  Stunning, isn't it? It's hard to even be mad after witnessing such a complete collapse. The Washington Generals couldn't have scripted a scenario that incompetent.  I've been hammering on Houston's quarterback issues all season, so it was no surprise at all that Fitzpatrick threw a gas can on the inferno with his interception. Fitzpatrick is by far the greatest liability for the Texans. Put simply, he's too inaccurate and doesn't have enough of a deep ball to threaten any competent defense. The only "magic" in Fitzmagic is his ability to string together a few completions against soft zone coverage to make the score "magically" seem like less of a blowout.   There continues to be little hope for those beyond Fitzpatrick to make an impact. Turning to Ryan Mallett isn't a terrible idea, but given his lack of accuracy, there's little hope that he'll change Houston's fortunes. Rookie fourth-rounder Tom Savage has yet to be active for a game, and the polite way to describe his preseason of checkdowns was "rudimentary."  Texans head coach Bill O'Brien lauded his team's ability to fight back after the game, per the Houston Chronicle. “These questions are like we lost 50-0. We lost by a touchdown," O'Brien said.  Well, yeah, and it's good that the Texans seem to be in lockstep behind their new coach. Defensive end J.J. Watt is the most valuable non-quarterback in the NFL. Wideout DeAndre Hopkins has emerged as a standout receiver. Older veterans like wideout Andre Johnson and Foster have played well and offer hope for a short-term turnaround next season.  In the NFL, you can have a team without a great quarterback and still make the playoffs. You can also have a crummy team littered with bottom-of-the-roster fodder with a great quarterback and make the playoffs. But if you mix a thin roster with a bad quarterback, your best-case scenario is, well, these Houston Texans.  That's where these Texans are. They're not the worst team in the NFL, and if they can take advantage of a weak schedule, they could even stay on the fringes of the playoff race.  But there's just too many holes on this roster to expect Houston to suddenly buckle down and make a race of this. For every Andre Johnson, there's a Damaris Johnson. For every Johnathan Joseph, there's a middle linebacker who runs like he has tank treads for legs. For every quarterback on the Houston roster, they ... well, they don't have any actual NFL starters. This was Houston's third straight game in the national spotlight, playing on Thursday Night Football, Monday Night Football and against the attention-sphere that is the Dallas Cowboys. This was supposed to be their chance at a coming-out party that would launch them into playoff contention. In the paraphrased words of the immortal Larry Burns, "Put (them) back in, (they're) not done yet!" Bleacher Report
    2014-10-21 Second-quarter surge pushes Steelers past Texans - By Ron Musselman, The Sports Xchange The Morning Call
    2014-10-21 Fitzpatrick on Texans’ collapse: ‘As bad as I’ve ever seen’ - PITTSBURGH — Texans coach Bill O’Brien had little interest in discussing the specifics of the Texans’ late second-quarter collapse, which saw a 13-0 lead suddenly become a 24-13 deficit. Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick echoed the sentiment of many of his teammates, acknowledging Pittsburgh’s outburst was great football for the Steelers and horrible for the Texans. “It was miserable and just a terrible, terrible display of offensive football by us,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was about as bad as it gets and as bad as I’ve ever seen. Two turnovers there and practically gave them the ball inside the five-yard line and giving them 14 points. It was just unacceptable.” Twitter: ChronBrianSmith Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-21 Texans overwhelmed in 30-23 loss to Steelers - Confident and in command, the Houston Texans appeared poised for the biggest win of Bill O'Brien's brief tenure. … Click to Continue » Sports News | The Kansas City Star & KansasCity.com
    2014-10-21 Texans overwhelmed in 30-23 loss to Steelers - Early lead evaporates quickly as Texans fall to Steelers 30-23          USA Today
    2014-10-21 Is It Officially Time for the Houston Texans to Make a QB Switch? - After sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick for seven games—in which the Houston Texans have gone 3-4—coach Bill O'Brien likely wouldn't face much scrutiny if he decided to give Ryan Mallet a chance at quarterback. Fitzpatrick, who signed a two-year deal with the Texans in March, was never meant to be more than an intermediary, while O'Brien used his touted quarterback development skills to groom Houston's passer of the future. It's unclear whether 2014 fourth-round pick Tom Savage will pan out and become that franchise quarterback, but that's a question for another time.  The question of the present, however, is whether O'Brien is ready to start Mallet. It seemed like a distinct possibility based on comments O'Brien made in his pregame press conference on Friday and, after the ineffective performance Fitzpatrick turned in Monday night, could become a reality in Week 8.  Fitzpatrick didn't have his worst game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but, in what has become a concerning pattern, he did throw an interception, his sixth of the season. Pittsburgh scored two plays after the pick and never gave up the lead. O'Brien last week praised Mallet's "fantastic arm" and said "he's definitely where we want him to be," noting that the transition was easier for him because he was already familiar with the offense. Mallet worked with O'Brien in New England when he was the Patriots' offensive coordinator in 2011.  "He has good command out there, both in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage," O'Brien said of the former Arkansas Razorback. "He's working to be more consistent on a day-to-day basis with throwing the ball and with accuracy." The obvious challenge to a midseason quarterback switch for the Houston Texans is whether Mallet stepping in for Fitzpatrick would really accomplish anything significant, and it's a valid one. This is an offense operating behind an offensive line that Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranks as the league's 25th-best unit, having allowed 54 total pressures on 184 passing plays prior to Monday night's game.  The Texans are also not built to heavily feature the pass; heading into Week 7 they had 161 passing attempts on the season, by far the fewest in the league. While that dynamic would likely change if an Andrew Luck or even a Tony Romo walked into the Texans locker room tomorrow, it's unlikely that swapping Mallet for Fitzpatrick would increase Houston's passing attack.  Still, Mallet very possibly could do better than Fitzpatrick. Houston has weapons in Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. They have a strong running game led by Arian Foster, which can take pressure off Mallet and set up play-action passes. There are opportunities here for a quarterback who doesn't need to be explosive, just effective.  Mainly, the Texans need a quarterback who can protect the football. Fitzpatrick has six touchdowns and six interceptions on the season, joining Geno Smith (seven each) and Jake Locker (four) as the other quarterbacks who have exactly a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio on the season. Fitzpatrick has 99 interceptions on his career to 112 touchdowns and has a 30-52-1 record in games he has started, per Pro-Football-Reference.com. Mallet, on the other hand, is extremely unproven, having never started an NFL game and playing in just four for the Patriots in 2012. But O'Brien is one of the best in football at evaluating quarterback talent, and given his previous experience working with Mallet, the fact that he traded for him when he took the coaching job in Houston, the praise he gave Mallet last week should be taken seriously.   Yes, Fitzpatrick wasn't hired to be anything more than a game manager, but he's barely, well, managing to do that so far. In the Texans' three wins this season, the defense held their opponents to 17 or fewer points. Its role in Houston's victories this season can't be underestimated.  In addition to Fitzpatrick's turnover issues, Houston is averaging 208.5 passing yards per game, which is 28th in the league. That shouldn't be the case in a Bill O'Brien offense, and the lack of a passing threat is limiting opportunities for a true weapon like Foster in the running game.  When something's not working, it's easy to believe that a change will solve the problem, and that may not be the case for Houston. But Fitzpatrick's ceiling has been fairly well established over his nine-season career, while Mallet's ceiling is unknown.  If it's more likely than not that neither QB will be starting in Houston this time next year, why not see what Mallet can do in this offense now that he's comfortable?   brvideo
    2014-10-21 Steelers ride first-half scoring flurry to 30-23 win over Texans - PITTSBURGH Turnovers on defense and touchdowns on offense have been hard to come by for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. Then came a magical 73 seconds late in the first half and both occurred relentlessly. Orlando Sentinel
    2014-10-21 Ryan Fitzpatrick on #Texans' collapse: 'As bad as I've ever seen' http://t.co/j3tPWFGW2w #NFL #Steelers - None twitter
    2014-10-21 2015 NFL Draft: Each Team's Biggest Need and Best Fit - The Need: Quarterback | The Fit: Jameis Winston, Florida State The Houston Texans need a quarterback. No disrespect to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett (a 2014 free agent) or fourth-round pick Tom Savage, but it's highly unlikely that the future of the Texans at quarterback is on this roster. The bad news is that the Texans are winning each game (at least early) to put themselves out of the running for Marcus Mariota. But they might be in perfect positioning for the quarterback who truly fits the offense best. Jameis Winston may not fit what Bill O'Brien wants in a quarterback's personality, but his game is ideal for the pro-style offense O'Brien used in New England, at Penn State and now in Houston. Winston is a big, strong, athletic quarterback with the anticipation and football IQ to make big plays with the ball. And much like the quarterback that beat Houston in Week 7, Winston has a lot of Ben Roethlisberger to his game. If the Texans can look past Winston's off-field, his on-field is ideal for them. Secondary Fits: Connor Cook (Michigan State), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Bryce Petty (Baylor) B/R NFL
    2014-10-21 Steelers look dominant, defiant in comeback win over Texans - Heading into Monday night's 30-23 win against the Houston Texans, the struggling Steelers were perceived as a team in a hole, a team with a lot of... SI.com Top Stories
    2014-10-21 Steelers use wild sequence before halftime to take control, beat Texans - One dizzying sequence, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were in complete control against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a decisive surge late in the first half. Daily News
    2014-10-21 Ryan Fitzpatrick on end of #Texans' first half: "It was about as bad as it gets and as bad as I've ever seen." #NFL #Steelers - None twitter
    2014-10-21 John McClain grades Texans after 30-23 loss to Steelers - Texans overall grade: F Blowing a 13-0 lead and trailing 24-13 because of a colossal collapse in the last 3:08 of the first half is inept and inexcusable. Not to mention unbelievable. Quarterbacks: C-minus Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes to Alfred Blue and Arian Foster. He also threw an interception that set up a touchdown. Running backs: B Arian Foster carried 20 times for 102 yards. He caught a touchdown pass. He also lost a fumble at the Texans’ 3 that set up a touchdown. Receivers/tight ends: C DeAndre Hopkins had six catches for 108 yards and lost a fumble. Andre Johnson had five for 77. The tight ends [...] Houston Chronicle
    2014-10-21 How the Texans got buried to end the second quarter - PITTSBURGH -- When did the 21-point deluge at the end of the first half start? Depends whom you ask, but the result was three touchdowns in just ov... espn
    2014-10-21 Steelers rally to top Texans, extend Monday night dominance - PITTSBURGH - At home on “Monday Night Football,” the Pittsburgh Steelers are next to impossible to beat. Orlando Sentinel
    2014-10-21 Roethlisberger throws 2 TDs as Steelers rally past stunned Texans - <!-- Start Story Image --> <!-- END STORY IMAGE --> PITTSBURGH — One dizzying sequence, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were in complete control against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a decisive surge late in the first half, helping the Steelers rally for a 30-23 win over the mistake-prone Texans on Monday night. Pittsburgh (4-3) needed just over a minute to turn a 10-point deficit into an 11-point lead as the Texans self-destructed while losing their third straight. Roethlisberger finished with 265 yards passing. Le’Veon Bell racked up 145 yards of total &hellip; Chicago Sun-Times
    2014-10-21 Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23 - PITTSBURGH (AP) &mdash; The deluge started with a desperation third-down heave, a trickle that turned into a downpour and led to another abrupt turn in the Pittsburgh Steelers' confounding season. The Denver Post
    2014-10-21 Brett Keisel's key plays turn J.J. Watt into 'the other No. 99' in Steelers' win - PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made a statement Monday night, pulling their season from the brink shortly after boos had rained down on them in... espn
    2014-10-21 Postgame: Bill O'Brien and Ryan Fitzpatrick - Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick reacted to the team's loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7. Houston Texans
    2014-10-21 Postgame: Bill O'Brien and Ryan Fitzpatrick - Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick reacted to the team's loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7. Houston Texans
    2014-10-21 Texans self-destruct in 30-23 loss to Steelers: Monday Night Football - Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play The Times Picayune NOLA.com
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Result, Highlights And More - Thanks to a strong second quarter, the Steelers defeated the Houston Texans Monday. The Pittsburgh Steelers improved to 4-3 with a 27-16 win over the Houston Texans on Monday at Heinz Field. The Texans were the first ones on the board and had control of the game early. Houston marched down the field, primarily thanks to 59 [&#8230;] Houston Texans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Result, Highlights And More - FanSided - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle &amp; Technology - 280+ Sites FanSided NFL
    2014-10-21 NFL: Steelers rally past stunned Texans - Pittsburgh : One dizzying sequence, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were in complete control against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a de... Salt Lake Tribune
    2014-10-21 Houston Texans play worst game of season, still lose close to Steelers - My goodness. Somehow the Houston Texans only lost 30-23 even though they played their worst brand of football in franchise history, it seems like. An early 13-0 lead evaporated when the Steelers scored 24 points within a couple minutes. They wouldn’t look back and the Texans lost their third straight that probably ends their playoff hopes. MVP-Ben Roethlisberger After a shaky start, Big Ben rallied the Steelers as he completed 23 of 33 pass attempts for 265 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t turn throw any picks and was unstoppable in the second half. LVP-Ryan Fitzpatrick A solid start for Fitz, but it wasn’t enough as the Texans quarterback was sacked once and threw an interception that helped the Steelers score a late touchdown in the first half that would help be the difference. He wasn’t making good throws and kept messing up. Enough is enough. Let’s bench this guy. X-Factor- Le’Veon Bell Bell shredded the Texans secondary when he got the ball, finishing with 57 yards on only 12 rushing yards YardBarker
    2014-10-21 Steelers rally past stunned Texans - Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and wide receiver Antonio Brown added another on a gadget play during a decisive surge late in the first half, helping the Steelers rally for a 30-23 win over the mistake-prone Texans on Monday night. Daily Herald
    2014-10-21 Steelers rally past stunned Texans 30-23 - Steelers use 3-touchdown flurry to rally past stunned Texans 30-23 read more...Tag(s): Pro BCSN

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