Texans look for improvement before playoffs

The Houston Texans clinched the AFC South with a 29-17 win over

the Colts to help erase the memory of a blowout loss to New

England.

Coach Gary Kubiak still sees plenty of room for improvement

after Sunday’s game and is challenging his team to play better with

gaining home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs still

within reach.

San Francisco’s win over New England on Sunday night left the

Texans needing just one win in their last two games to secure

home-field advantage.

”It’d be huge for this team because playing at home in this

league and having the benefit of your crowd and getting off on

cadence and all those types of things, it’s a big, big factor in

success in this league,” Kubiak said. ”We worked hard to get to

the playoffs. We worked hard to win a division and now we got to

continue that same effort to try to find a way to possibly be a one

seed in this playoff hunt.”

One of Kubiak’s biggest concerns is Houston’s inability to

finish drives lately. Houston was just one of five on red zone

opportunities on Sunday.

The Texans scored their only offensive touchdown on their second

drive, and settled for field goals the rest of the way.

”It was disappointing because we could have really put some

points on the board,” Kubiak said. ”You only get so many

opportunities in this business and boy, you have to take advantage

of them.”

Houston ran for 178 yards on Sunday, led be a season-high 165

yards from Arian Foster. But Foster and the Texans didn’t fare very

well running the ball in the red zone against the Colts.

Foster managed just 2 yards on a third-and-4 from the

Indianapolis 13 to force Houston to kick a field goal on its first

drive. Houston had a second-and-10 inside the Indianapolis 20 when

Ben Tate lost 4 yards on a run, forcing the team to settle for

another field goal two plays later.

Houston’s red zone production was also hindered when Matt Schaub

was sacked for a loss of 7 yards on second-and-8 in the third

quarter.

There has been some criticism of why Houston didn’t go to Andre

Johnson more in the red zone after he scored its only offensive

touchdown early in Sunday’s game. Johnson leads the AFC with 1,360

yards receiving.

Kubiak said it often doesn’t make sense to force it to Johnson

in those situations because the defense is focused on stopping

him.

”A lot of that has to do with how much attention is paid to him

down there,” Kubiak said. ”People double him, doing those types

of things.”

While Kubiak’s main focus is fixing Houston’s flaws, he did take

time Monday to discuss some areas he isn’t fretting about.

He is excited about the development of some of his young

players, and believes their development will help the team as it

moves closer to the playoffs.

Rookie receiver DeVier Posey, who hadn’t caught a pass until

last week, had three receptions for 46 yards against the Colts. On

defense, rookie Whitney Mercilus has helped Houston deal with

numerous injuries to its linebackers. Mercilus has six sacks and

has forced two fumbles despite starting just three games.

”I think what’s happening right now is some of our young

players on our team are giving us a chance to continue to

improve,” Kubiak said. ”We’re watching some young guys really

contribute to this team … and it is very encouraging.”

Kubiak also raved about the work of defensive end J.J. Watt, who

is tied with San Francisco’s Aldon Smith for most sacks in the NFL

with 19 1/2.

Watt led the team with 10 tackles, forced a fumble and sacked

Andrew Luck three times on Sunday. He needs just three sacks to tie

the NFL single-season record of 22 1/2.

”He’s been exceptional,” Kubiak said. ”The game he played

yesterday, and you all know how he’s played all year, was probably

his best this year. Usually a lot of linemen have a specialty,

defensive linemen, whether it’s rushing the passer, playing the run

(but) this kid does everything well.”

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