Texans CBs feeling weight of NFL's worst passing D
The Texans, after all, have the NFL's worst pass defense heading into Sunday's game at Oakland.
Jackson has become the poster child for the problems largely based on one play - Roy Williams' 63-yard touchdown catch in Houston's 27-13 loss to Dallas last week. After Jackson stumbled at the line, Williams caught an easy slant pass from Tony Romo and sprinted to the end zone.
''I'm going to have to go through adversity sometimes and unfortunately, now is that time for me,'' said Jackson, Houston's first-round pick from Alabama. ''I think I just need to go out this week and have a good weekend and just apply everything in practice to the game. I think I'll be able to bounce back.''
Houston coach Gary Kubiak knew the risks when he named Jackson the starter in training camp over a group of more seasoned veterans. Asomugha thinks Kubiak is doing the right thing because Jackson needs game experience more than practice.
''Obviously, he's going to feel terrible about it because he wants to be perfect and he wants to be a great player,'' Asomugha said. ''I think you have to be thrown in the fire and you have to have those rough plays, because those are the plays you learn from. If he sticks with and continues to work hard, he'll start to see it turn around at some point because it always does. It's just a matter of being patient.''
Jackson wants to seek out Asomugha after Sunday's game and ask for advice. Like Jackson, Asomugha was a first-round pick (in 2003), but he didn't become a full-time cornerback until his third season.
''This guy has the benefit of playing corner as a rookie,'' Asomugha said. ''He's going to be able to improve a lot sooner than I was able to.''
Jackson can't bear all the blame for Houston's problems in pass coverage.
Second-year cornerback Brice McCain also gave up a TD catch to Williams on Sunday, and the Texans remain one of three teams without an interception. The other starter is Glover Quin, who's also in his second season and still looking for his first career interception.
McCain said the cornerbacks are encouraged by the fact that they can see the mistakes they're making on game film.
''Just technique errors,'' McCain said. ''It's all correctable.''
The secondary would also get a boost if the Texans could generate more pressure on quarterbacks. Defensive end Mario Williams has four sacks, but no other Texan has even one. Houston didn't sack Romo once on Sunday, and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye said the front line needs to play more as a unit on each snap.
''The thing about pass-rushing is you've got to just feel each other, and know that a person is going to be in a certain place, and know that you can then go over the top,'' he said. ''It's just having a feel for what each other is going to do. And just talking more out there has helped out a lot.''
Until the Texans show they can stop the pass, the cornerbacks know they'll be tested. Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb both topped 400 yards passing in losses to Houston, and Romo threw 20 of his 30 passes in the first half on Sunday.
''You just have to know that, going into this game, we have the bull's-eye on our back,'' Quin said. ''Who wouldn't attack us? We've been giving up a lot of yards in the pass game.''
Too often this season, Quin said, the cornerbacks have reverted to the habits they learned in college. The Texans' coaches have taught them different techniques and they're still making the adjustments.
''We have to stop doing what we want to do, or what we are not coached to do, or doing our own thing,'' Quin said. ''It happens to everybody. You get in the game, you hear the crowd, you're pumped up and you just want to play. Sometimes, the little fundamental things you do every day, you forget about them.''
Kubiak said the secondary - and Houston's entire defense - has played well in long stretches of each game, making the breakdowns even more frustrating.
''The fact that we get bad in certain periods of the game, for whatever reason, is causing us to give up way too many yards and too many points and too many big plays,'' Kubiak said. ''It's just about consistency and the only way to get it is to go do it. This would be a good week to start.''