Texans regroup after stinging loss to Cowboys

The offensive line collapsed, the secondary struggled again, two

drives stalled inside the 10-yard line. There were penalties,

turnovers and an injury to the star player.

The Houston Texans flopped on Sunday in what could’ve been a

defining game in their history. Instead of celebrating their first

3-0 start, the Texans were reminded just how far they still have to

go in a stinging 27-13 loss to Dallas.

Matt Schaub was sacked four times, Tony Romo beat Houston’s

suspect cornerbacks on two touchdown passes to Roy Williams and the

Texans’ high-scoring offense didn’t score a touchdown until the

final two minutes.

Coach Gary Kubiak ripped his team in a meeting on Monday, and

spared no one.

”We didn’t play good enough up front, defensively, where do you

want me to go? We didn’t play good enough as a team,” he said. ”I

was more concerned with some details, and some things we teach on

this team that we ask people to do on a regular basis. We get it

done a great deal of the time. Every now and then, we choose not to

do it. I didn’t like how we chose not to do some of things.”

The most glaring deficiency is the pass defense, a major concern

for Kubiak before the season began.

The Texans are one of three teams still without an interception

and are allowing a league-worst 369 yards passing per game. Romo

threw for 284 yards after Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb both

topped 400 yards passing against Houston.

Kubiak knew he was gambling when he selected first-round draft

pick Kareem Jackson and second-year pro Glover Quin as his starting

cornerbacks over veterans Jacques Reeves, Fred Bennett and Antwaun

Molden. Brice McCain, also in his second season, is seeing action

in certain coverages and was beaten on Williams’ first TD catch on

Sunday.

After three games, Kubiak isn’t cutting the cornerbacks any

slack.

”There has been a lot of talk about the young guys we’re

playing,” Kubiak said. ”They’re veterans now. They’ve been out

there three times in the regular season. This is our group. This is

the group we’re going with. I expect us to play better than

that.”

Williams darted past Jackson for a 63-yard touchdown early in

the fourth quarter. Jackson said Monday that he’s made technique

mistakes that can be easily corrected.

”All the things I’ve got beaten on are little things that I’ve

done wrong,” Jackson said. ”You’ve got to be able to take

constructive criticism. You’ve got to go out and fix the problem,

and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Houston’s pass rush was another weak spot on Sunday.

The Texans did not sack Romo after getting five in the first two

games, four by defensive end Mario Williams. The Cowboys bottled up

Mario Williams, and no other Texans player up front has generated

much of a rush. The defense will get a boost starting next week,

when linebacker Brian Cushing returns from a four-game suspension

for violating the NFL’s banned substance policy.

The Texans (2-1) play at Oakland (1-2) next Sunday.

In 2009, Houston’s defense ranked as one of the league’s worst

after the first three games of the season. The Texans acquired

hard-hitting safety Bernard Pollard before the fourth game – also

against Oakland – and the defense ranked as one of the league’s

best over the final 13 games, allowing 19 points and 84.3 yards

rushing per game.

Pollard said the Texans only need to increase their discipline

to spur a similar turnaround this season.

”We’re going to make some adjustments, we’re going to be

better,” Pollard said. ”Guys are trying to do their own thing,

and we can’t do that. Some way, somehow, we lose sight of what’s

been coached all week. These are things we have to fix in order for

us to be better.”

The offensive line also needs shoring up, especially on pass

protection. Schaub has been sacked 11 times, second highest in the

league behind Philadelphia.

Rashad Butler made his first start Sunday in place of left

tackle Duane Brown, who began serving his four-game suspension for

violating the NFL’s banned substance policy. Right tackle Eric

Winston said the entire front bears the blame for the pressure on

Schaub on Sunday.

”I’ve heard that it was this guy or that guy,” Winston said.

”I don’t buy that stuff. We take it upon ourselves up front, that

we’re going to be the guys that protect. If he (Schaub) needs to

hold it for five or seven or 10 seconds, then that’s what he needs

to do, and we need to get them blocked.”