Head coach Gary Kubiak stayed up into the wee hours Sunday reviewing game footage of the Texans' 38-17 loss to the Steelers. Kubiak saw a lot he needed to fix, especially when it came to the Texans' running game and run defense. Now, it's time for the coach to correct those problems and get ready for the Baltimore Ravens.
Texans working out new backs: Ahman Green injured his ankle in the first half of Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and is being listed as day-to-day. The running back played through the injury and finished with five carries for 28 yards, including an explosive 14-yard run.
Green's injury raises concerns about his durability for the season, forcing the Texans to weigh their options at the position. General manager Rick Smith will bring in a group of backs for workouts on Tuesday. The front office also will consider bringing up Darius Walker from the practice squad.
"Darius is going to be our first option," Kubiak said. "To get ready to go, you cannot play in this league with two backs or operate with two halfbacks going into a game. So, that's a big concern as we evaluate Ahman's ankle right now. So, with Darius, you can always bring Darius up. The next option is you got to go out there and find somebody."
Kubiak did not specify who the Texans would be evaluating. When asked if former Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson made the list, Kubiak had this to say:
"I am going to have to let Rick (Smith) answer that, in all honesty. I've been in coaches meetings all day. I know that we're working out a group of backs tomorrow, and I don't have that list in front of me, but Rick can get with you all on that. I'm not sure if he's on that list or not to be honest with you. I'm not avoiding the question. I've been a little busy since last night and through today, but I'll sit down and find out from him exactly who's coming in, but I know we're going to work some guys out."
The head coach gave a similar response when asked if the team had any interest in former Seattle Seahawk Shaun Alexander.
Green, an 11-year veteran, missed most of the preseason with a hamstring injury. He was eased into the rotation against the Steelers to prevent him from suffering a setback. The Texans' two healthy running backs are rookie Steve Slaton and third-year pro Chris Taylor.
Not all on Schaub: Quarterback Matt Schaub was the first to admit that he got very little right on Sunday. He threw two interceptions, fumbled and was sacked five times. But Kubiak said that Schaub wasn't the only one to be blamed for the team's offensive woes.
"It's never on one player," Kubiak said. "It will never be on one player. This is a team game and everybody has a job to do. He can do his better than he did yesterday, but golly, everybody can - upfront, receivers, backs, tight ends. There wasn't any position on the offensive football team that I could sit here and tell you, 'He was just awesome and he's fine.' That just wasn't the case. We played poorly as a group. We got our butt beat as a group."
The Texans' offensive struggles began with the offensive line. Center Chris Myers was often beaten by nose tackle Casey Hampton, and rookie left tackle Duane Brown had trouble fending off James Harrison.
The Texans also never got their running game going. Green and Slaton combined for just 71 yards on the ground, and the Texans finished with 75 yards rushing. Because the Texans never established themselves on the ground, the Steelers were able to execute their zone blitzes and tee off on Schaub.
"Anytime you get in a situation against that football team where you're throwing it that much, probably something bad is going to happen sooner or later," Kubiak said. "We knew that Duane had his work cut out for him with 92 (James Harrison). Ninety-two is a great player. They create problems through their zone scheme, zone blitz schemes."
Kubiak thought about putting in backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels after Schaub was hit hard on a sack, but he thought Schaub could battle through the game.
"I believe in the kid," Kubiak said. "That's why he's here. He's battled really, really hard for us. He's a fine player. He's played some good football. He ran into a tough, tough place yesterday to play. He was going to have to be perfect for our football team. He wasn't. Our team wasn't. I wasn't. That's something we have to get over. We have to move onto the next one."
Schaub threw for 202 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score.
Ravens' defense even tougher: It's hard to imagine facing a tougher defense than Pittsburgh's, but the Texans are faced with that reality when they look at their upcoming opponent.
"Baltimore does even more," Kubiak said. "They are even more complicated, and Pittsburgh is as complicated as you'll see. But the thing with Baltimore is they have all their pieces back in place. They were missing a lot of players last year. They're all back. They're all healthy. They are playing with a ton of confidence. Very, very physical team, so we have to get over this real quick and get ready to go."
On Sunday, Baltimore held Cincinnati to 154 yards on offense. Bengals wideout Chad Ocho Cinco/Johnson recorded just 22 receiving yards, and the team's only score came from a returned fumble.
"That doesn't happen in this league, and Cincinnati's had one of the better offenses in the game going on the last three-to-five years," Kubiak said.
Tackling troubles: In the third quarter, the Texans missed more than 10 tackles, which allowed the Ravens to build a 35-3 lead.
"Against that team, they're going to keep pounding you," Kubiak said. "Knowing that we had to tackle well in the game throughout the day was something that we talked about all week. So, it was disappointing to go through a stretch like that when they were putting the football game away, basically. I can say that throughout those two drives in the third quarter we were extremely poor on tackling."
Kubiak did like the way the defensive line kept pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, especially end Mario Williams, who recorded two sacks and six tackles and forced a fumble that put the Texans in scoring range in the second quarter.
"I thought actually up front, our four starters for the most part played hard, were pretty sound," Kubiak said. "They made Ben get rid of the ball. We didn't cover very well when he got rid of it, but I thought those four guys played hard. Can they play better? Yeah, everybody can play better, but I don't see any reason to change our starters from that standpoint."
Injury update: Running back Ahman Green and guard Chester Pitts will be day-to-day with ankle injuries. Defensive end Stanley McClover tore his meniscus and is scheduled for surgery on Tuesday.