Don’t get me wrong, the Houston Texans have a very good secondary- but they’re not the best secondary in football. The Denver Broncos secondary is easily the best with both starting cornerbacks- Aqib Talib and Chris Harris- earning First Team All Pro distinction.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seems to disagree.
“The [Texans secondary is] tremendous,” McDaniels said on Monday, “the best team we’ve played in terms of pass defense and the way they’re playing.”
The Patriots played both the Texans and the Broncos in the regular season, with the Broncos game far more recent, so it’s not like McDaniels can feign ignorance. The Texans secondary ranks in the top five of the league, but the Broncos put together one of the greatest pass defenses in NFL history.
What is McDaniels’ explanation?
“I think it starts with the fact that they’re all tied together,” McDaniels said about the Texans defenders. “They don’t play just one coverage; they play a multitude of things depending on the situation you’re talking about. They’re always in the right position; they play with very good technique. They don’t let the ball go over their head and they challenge every throw whether it’s inside, outside, short, deep, intermediate.
“They have a lot of pass breakups. They’ve gotten their hands on a lot of balls, they finish well on the ball, and then tie that in with a tremendous pass rush, that’s the formula. You’ve got to be careful with what you’re trying to do and how long you’re trying to hold it, but you need some time to create some space and get open. There’s a balance there. They obviously have done it as well as any other team in the league on defense.”
The Texans broke up an astounding 13 passes against the Oakland Raiders during Wild Card Weekend, including three interceptions. CB A.J. Bouye broke up four passes on his own; CB Jonathan Joseph broke up three.
Houston combines a solid secondary with a great defensive front to cover every blade of grass. There are no real weaknesses in their defense, apart from the safety position, unlike the Broncos and their weak coverage linebackers.
Patriots QB Tom Brady will have to be smart with the football to avoid any possible turnover opportunities. New England should be able to win this game fairly easily, but turnovers are a quick way to allow a losing team to lead a comeback.