orisha green - stockholm/ formerly chatt, TN, US: I have noticed during games when we seem to fall behind, we really dont have a vocal leader or much communication, why is that? Also we seem to not really disguise our coverages maybe that will help confuse defenses.
This will be my last question of our first Live Chat. Thanks again for sending in all the great emails. If I didn't get to you this week, you will be first on the list for next Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.
The Texans have a young defense led by DeMeco Ryans and Mario Williams. Both are two dominant defenders, but they aren't vocal players. That has been the role of cornerback Dunta Robinson. Having him back on the field is huge for the defense because the players look to him for leadership and direction.
Still, Dunta is a little rusty after missing almost a year. And the secondary has had to deal with some injuries. Once Dunta is back to be Dunta, I think the coverage issues will improve.
Thanks again Texans fans!!
Juan - Amarillo, TX, US: I agree with you Brooke, turnovers are the big killer right now. Why is that so hard for others to believe what I still believe, in that we are a playoff team right now. We have had a run of misfortune to start off our season. Do you believe we will pick it up in the second half of the season, I do. The race for the playoffs is still going & I think we'll catch our second wind!! GO TEXANS!!!!
This season has had so many obstacles for the Texans to overcome. They had to play four consecutives games on the road and lose their bye week because of Hurricane Ike. Their starting quarterback gets injured just when the offense starts to roll. The pieces are there - it's now a matter of executing better. There still is hope this team can go to the playoffs, but they have to be pretty much perfect from here on out.
Let me also add that the players believe in the team and don't look at this season as being lost.
jake - h-town, TX, US: how much of the stuff you say do you really mean
I honestly can say that I mean everything I write. I spend every day with the Texans during the season, so I see it all. And I report it like I see it.
Tony Andrade - Mission, TX, US: Hi Bentley, I'm feeling neglected as a fan. Why doesn't the owner fire some coaches or change something. We can't keep doing the same things week in and week out and expect to win. We need some changes immediately.
Texans fans, just so you know, I will take a couple more questions. Thanks for sending in so many in our first Live Chat!
As for coaching changes, owner Bob McNair did make a change in 2006 when he hired head coach Gary Kubiak and general manager Rick Smith. And this offseason, the Texans hired new coaches in assistant head coach (and zone blocking guru) Alex Gibbs and dassistant efensive backs coach (and former NFL Coach of the Year) Ray Rhodes.
The Texans are a young team that still is going through growing pains. But that doesn't mean they tolerate a performance like last Sunday. There very well could be changes after the season, but that will be up to Mr. McNair.
Jeffrey Casino - Seattle, WA, US: Hey Brooke, Seeing as how the texans arent having their best season so far, and not to be a pessimist, but what do they have planned as their draft, when the draft time comes? Maybe a defensive player?
Well, draft talk has not started up around here. The players and coaches still think there is a lot of football to be played. The odds may not be in favor of the Texans making the playoffs, but they are going to take it game-by-game.
Stay tuned this offseason for our draft coverage from the Senior Bowl and the annual NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Alejandro - Houston, TX, US: What is Mario Williams posobillity of makin the pro bowl and what does he need to do (or keep on doing) to get there
I touched on this a little earlier, but there is a theory in the NFL that players always make the Pro Bowl a year after they should have and stay a year too late. Defensive end Mario Williams should have made the Pro Bowl last year after recording 14 sacks.
He has eight sacks so far this year and would be in the double digits if teams weren't double teaming him so much. If he can keep pace with that, his chances are high.
Consensus around the league is that Mario is a beast. He is one of the fastest and strongest defensive ends in the game and he's a game-changing player. If he can take down Peyton Manning a few times on Sunday, he might start working on his hula.
Look for Super Mario on the gameday magazine cover for the Texans' first-ever Monday Night Football game Dec. 2 at Reliant Stadium against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Joshua - Pasadena, TX, US: What is wrong with Amobi Okoye? Is he simply having a sophomore slump or is his underperformance due to an injury or something?
At the beginning of the season, Texans defensive line coaches Jethro Franklin and Frank Bush wanted more out of Okoye. They wanted a more consistent effort out of him and they needed him to be more explosive off the line and do a better job of penetrating.
They decided to reduce his reps in hopes of seeing more of a burst from him. They got that in October, but Okoye suffered a high ankle sprain against the Vikings.
That injury caused him to sit out last week and he could be sidelined this Sunday at Indy. Stay tuned for the official injury report beginning Wednesday.
James - Offutt AFB, NE, US: Brooke, how much longer do you think we will have to painfully endure Richard Smith as defensive coordinator?
Defensive coordinator Richard Smith has been getting a lot of heat recently, especially after the Texans gave up 41 points to the Ravens.
Smith, like all the coaches on the team, is trying his hardest. Since he is calling the defensive plays, there is a bigger burden on him. I wrote earlier that Kubiak wasn't happy with the busted plays in the secondary against the Ravens. Smith and the rest of the defense can't let stuff like that happen again. But I know it would help Smith to have more depth at safety and cornerback.
Right now, the team is taking it game-by-game. So against Indy this week, Smith needs to show that he can get the defense to keep the pressure on Peyton Manning. In their first meeting this season, the Texans (thanks to Richard Smith's game plan) did a great job against the Colts' offense until turnovers changed the complexion of the game.
Laura Heidbreder - Houston, TX, US: Where do the Texans learn their eye-catching dance moves?
They are inspired by a variety of sources. Wide receiver David Anderson looks to Conan O'Brien as his muse (the string dance). Tight end Owen Daniels prefers to dust off the haters. And wideout Kevin Walters looks to seventh grade parking lots (the skateboard)!
As long as they are having fun in the end zone, how can we judge? Check out this video - /tv/index.asp?mmfileid=2718
Blaine Juergens - Livingston, TX, US: Is there such thing as a bigger Houston Texan fan than me?
You are one of the best! Maybe the Mario Williams of Texans fans. Seriously, the Texans really do appreciate their loyal fans. We even created a website where you can show just how big of a fan you are - http://www.imatexan.com/index.asp
Deloreon Guy - Las Vegas, NV, US: We all know when players get injured they could sometimes lose their starting job. But Zac Diles was emerging as an elite linebacker for the Texans until season ending injury. Is he the next Texans injepordy of his starting job?
Unfortunately, Zac Diles will be on injured reserve for the rest of the season. So he won't make it back to the field this year. He was leading the team in tackles and had recorded a sack and an interception. Really, he was becoming one of the best defensive players for the team.
Luckily, the Texans didn't miss a beat with Kevin Bentley starting last Sunday. Bentley had a sack against the Ravens and seven tackles.
So Diles will have to compete with Bentley for a starting spot in the offseason. But that's not any different than what would have happened had Diles remained healthy. Coach Kubiak says nobody's job is ever safe. So Diles would have had to fight off Bentley regardless.
Amit - Houston, TX, US: I sure do love those podcast! When is the next one going to be up?
Thanks for being a fan of Texans Today! We will have two new podcasts waiting for you today!! Check out this page to access all of our podcasts - /news/PodcastCentral2.asp
Trey Young - Katy, TX, US: Can you tell me about this players fashion show at SAKS?
Saks Fifth Avenue's "Suit Up" event is a really cool deal. The players will strut the runway in Saks suits on Tuesday, Nov. 18. And then there will be a chance for guests to mingle with the players and enjoys drinks and food. You can get tickets here.
Plus, I get to help host the event and I am very excited to be a part of it!
Stuart - Melbourne, FL, US: Why are the Texans not getting Andre involved in the offense early and often like they did in the 3 game winning streak? It's not the defense because no team can shut down AJ.
Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league right now, and every team knows it. That's why defenses have been jamming him at the line of scrimmage and playing Cover 2 defenses with bracket coverages. With all the double teams, 'Dre is not as open.
During the 3-game win streak, he was running routes from the x and z positions. He was running cross routes and deep routes, really mixing things up. But teams obviously have started to pick up on it.
Plus, the Vikings and the Ravens have some of the best pass rushers in the league. So Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels didn't have much time to get the ball to 'Dre.
But I agree with you. The Texans HAVE to find a way to get him more involved, because when they do, they win games. Johnson has incredible hands and he can make spectacular plays after the catch. Look for the coaches to go back to drawing board on this one.
James - Offutt AFB, NE, US: Yesterday Dunta Robinson said "you cant blame Kubiak, hes doing his job, maybe you gotta look at some things around him" and Demeco said he would rather get defensive calls during the game from Holland than Richard Smith. What do you make of those comments potentially regarding the DC?
First, you have to take those comments in the context of the locker room. Those guys are being hounded with questions from the media about who or what is to blame for their recent losses. Both DeMeco and Dunta said everyone on the team - coaches and players - have to be held more accountable.
The players certainly killed themselves with penalties against the Ravens.
But there were also some busted plays in the secondary that coach Kubiak wasn't happy about. Kubiak didn't finger point, but he said that all the coaches, including himself, have to be better. That includes defensive coordinator Richard Smith.
Ernest Brenes - VICTORIA, TX, US: i know the defense has improved from the past few years,how often and will the defense use blitzing packages against the colts and other opponents in the upcoming games? go texans!!!!
The Texans have kept it simple when it comes to blitzing and that's because they haven't wanted to expose their secondary, which has struggled with injuries. The return of cornerback Dunta Robinson has added a little more firepower to the secondary, but the coaches have tried to protect the corners from being on an island.
That being said, the Texans have had some success blitzing their linebackers. Zac Diles and Kevin Bentley each have sacks. And when it comes to playing the Colts, the defensive strategy is: Keep the pressure on Peyton. The Texans had success earlier in the season against Indy when they harassed Manning. The quarterback was forced to make off-balanced throws and rush his release.
To beat Indy, the Texans will have to continue to do that and perhaps get more creative with their blitzing schemes upfront.
ram - Ingleside, TX, US: When are yall gonna suck it up already and put some points on the board. its the little things yall need to work on. why does it always look like yall give up after yall start loosing?
Someone wrote in earlier about not putting points on the board and my answer to that is Houston has to stop being turnover city. See above.
As far as working on the little things, you are right on. The Texans killed themselves with penalties against the Ravens (10 for 76 yards). They were called for pass interference twice in the end zone, and Duane Brown gave up a safety with a holding call. Those little things add up big time.
But I'm not sure about the Texans giving up when they are behind in the game. They fought at Minnesota to make it a one-touchdown game in the fourth quarter and lost that one in the finale minutes. They also fought back at Jacksonville to go to overtime. Against the Ravens, they were behind by six in the third quarter before everything got out of control.
And losing doesn't go over well in the locker room. After Sunday's loss, there were some angry players – angry because they lost and angry because of the way they played. Nobody takes losses harder than the people in this building.
Andrea - Teaneck, NJ, US: Hi Brooke! My question is for Will Demps. I was wondering if he was married? And does he have or want any kids once his career slows down?
Safety Will Demps is not married. He has attracted a lot of attention because he has modeled for several magazines. But he says that football is the primary commitment right now.
Oh, one more thing on this topic. I almost forgot. Go to his bio page - /team/player.asp?player_id=318 - for links related to his modeling career, including cover photos, videos, etc.
Nick Schenck - Houston, TX, US: Is Jeff Zgonina a beast or what?
Well, Nick, funny you should ask.
Let me begin by stating that Zgonina could have the largest calf muscle-ankle combination in the NFL. The guy's legs are sturdy and they serve him well. He's been in the league 16 seasons. He's older than some coaches – he actually roomed with general manager Rick Smith at Purdue.
He's gotten a chance to start some this season because the Texans have had injuries at defensive tackle, and he's done a good job of plugging the middle.
Here are some Zgonina fun facts. His max in bench press is 525. And he raises rodeo bulls in his spare time.
ram - ingleside, TX, US: how much longer do i gotta keep sitting here waiting for ya'll to put some touchdowns on the board i have been with yall through wins and losses. lets do something already you hurt the fans as well when u lose a game
So here's the deal. The Texans rank fifth in the NFL in total offense with 371.7 ypg. They rank fourth in passing with 264.3 ypg. But they have struggled to get to the end zone.
There have been way too many times when the Texans have driven the field and turned the ball over. Think 1-yard line interception against the Ravens.
Houston's quarterbacks have committed 19 turnovers, including 14 interceptions. Kubiak and company know that they have to put an end to that to win games. Kubiak's statement after the Ravens' game says it all: "I have to figure out a way to get us to play four quarters of clean football."
Stuart - Melbourne, FL, US: Which Texans do you think will make the Pro Bowl squad this year?
There is a theory in the NFL that players always make the Pro Bowl a year after they should have. Conversely, many players make the Pro Bowl off name recognition when their skills have declined. Defensive end Mario Williams should have made the Pro Bowl last year after recording 14 sacks. He has eight sacks so far this year and would be in the double digits if teams weren't double teaming him so much. I think he has a very strong chance.
Andre Johnson, a two-time Pro Bowler, also looks like he's bound for Hawaii. Johnson already has 900 receiving yards this season. He was AFC offensive player of the month after recording 593 receiving yards in October. Coaches and players around the league have said he could be the best receiver playing the game right now.
Tight end Owen Daniels is a strong candidate. He's third among all NFL tight ends in receiving yards. And linebacker DeMeco Ryans could go to Hawaii for the second consecutive year if he racks up more double-digit tackling games.
Also, don't count out Kris Brown. And remember to vote for our Texans here.
Marcus Egemba - Las Vegas, NV, US: How good has Steve Slaton progressed as a Texan?
As you may know, Steve Slaton was drafted as a third-down back by the Texans because of his speed and ability to catch the ball in the backfield. When Ahman Green got hurt in the first game of the season, Slaton became the starter and quickly proved he can be an every-down back in the NFL.
Slaton is not a pounder like the Titans' LenDale White. But he has break-away speed and excels when he gets to the outside edges. And Slaton has gotten much better at running up the gut and finding the seams.
Assistant coach Alex Gibbs has worked a lot with Slaton on making one-cut runs, which complement the Texans' zone blocking scheme. At times, this has worked extremely well, such as the game against Indy. Other times against more physical defenses, such as Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the run game has been slow to get going.
Plus, Slaton is coming off a long college season at West Virginia and has been carrying most of the load by himself. Against the Vikings, he was the team's only rusher. So far this season, Slaton has 124 carries for 545 yards and he's averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Those are great numbers for a rookie who has faced three of the top five defenses in the league.
Coach Gary Kubiak has been worried about Slaton wearing down, which is why Ryan Moats got first-half carries against the Ravens. Kubiak thinks that giving Slaton a rest last Sunday will get him fresh for this week's game against Indy.
Kubiak would like to see Slaton do more in pass protection, especially because the Texans throw the ball so much. Still, Slaton has been exceeding expectations.
Nick Schenck - Houston, TX, US: You all set?
Hi Texans fans!
Yes, we are all systems go. Thanks for making our first ever Live Chat possible. We will hold these every Tuesday at 1:30 and we encourage you to send in your questions about the state of the team.
The Texans have had their share of highs and lows this season, and I know you have a lot you want answered. So keep the questions coming!