Posts Tagged ‘Houston Texans’

Gap Integrity: How the Houston Texans Running Game Tested Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Brandon Spikes, Dont’a Hightower, and the rest of the Patriots defense faced an aggressive Houston Texans rushing attack in Week 13. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Defending the run is a concept that’s simple in theory yet complex in practice.

It’s a concept that the New England Patriots defensive front is still vying to collectively grasp without reinforcement from defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly, and linebacker Jerod Mayo.

Currently, New England’s defense ranks 31st in the NFL with 138 rushing yards allowed per game and 26th with 4.6 yards allowed per attempt. And head coach Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia have taken schematic measures to avert that trend.

Whether it’s been rooted in matchups or attrition, the front seven has transitioned to more of a 3-4 base of late. The move has bulked the defensive line with an assemblage of rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano, veteran nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and practice-squad promotion Sealver Siliga. It has also spelled defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich at outside linebacker, a step back from their traditional stomping grounds.

The rise of the three-man defensive line has impacted more than those who align there, however; it has impacted the responsibilities of linebackers Dont’a Hightower and Brandon Spikes.

With an already-depleted retaining wall in front of them, the two have seen offensive linemen upfield at a prolific rate this season. So having one less interior disruptor on the field for much of Week 13 against the Houston Texans only heightened it. (more…)


Accounting for No. 87: How Rob Gronkowski Challenged the Houston Texans Defense

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Rob Gronkowski’s influence on the Patriots offense was illustrated in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Rob Gronkowski is making up for lost time.

After missing the first six weeks of the 2013 season, the New England Patriots two-time All-Pro has returned as if he never left. Since his reintegration on Oct. 20, the 6’6”, 265-pound tight end has reeled in 37 passes for 560 yards in four touchdowns. Over his last four games, however, Gronkowski has tallied 27 receptions for 419 yards and four touchdowns.

The influence of New England’s 2010 second-round pick has been unmistakable. His presence has deepened the passing attack. His presence has drawn defenders. His presence has created mismatches. And while all opponent game plans account for No. 87, that itself is a double-edged sword.

Under an open roof at Reliant Stadium against the Houston Texans in Week 13, that schematic dilemma was on display. (more…)


Patriots Set For Rematch With Houston Texans In First Playoff Game

Saturday, January 5th, 2013
Stevan Ridley Patriots Best Team

Stevan Ridley played a big part against the Texans last game. (USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope

When the Houston Texans came to Gillette Stadium to play the New England Patriots during the regular season, they got embarrassed in a 42-14 rout. That should give the Patriots plenty of confidence heading into their first playoff game, which will once again be against the Texans at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 13 in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

(more…)




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