The Raiders faced the Houston Texans at home last season. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders travel to Houston to take on the Texans at Reliant Stadium in 2011 Week 5 action. After losing to Houston at home last season, the Raiders look to turn the tables on the Texans and beat them in their stadium. In order to do so, the Silver and Black will need to contend with a 3-1 team who beat the Steelers in Week 4.
"Houston; the Texans, they're 3-1," said Head Coach Hue Jackson after Wednesday's practice. "Good football team, good offense, good defense, but it's about us. We've got to get better and that's what we did today. I thought we got better today, we've got to come out tomorrow and do it again. Just keep putting back-to-back days together of consistent play and let's go play a game."
Led by head coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans are impressed by the men in Silver and Black and are expecting a tough challenge on Sunday. "I'm just looking at them this year and to me they're obviously running the ball extremely well on the offensive side of the ball, big play capability, their kicking game is always excellent, their punter and kicker are as good as there is in football," said Coach Kubiak. "Defensively up front right now they're getting after people and causing havoc and they're very good up front. So from that standpoint to me right now they're very impressive as a team and how they're playing."
Texans RB Arian Foster, who had 30 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown last week against Pittsburgh, knows he'll be facing a tough Raiders squad. "Every time you play the Raiders you see the talent that they have, the speed, and the size," said Foster. "They have great athletes who are very stout and they've got a good defense. They're fast and they're physical and will wear you down so as an offense you have to make sure you stay on them."
Coach Jackson and his team have great respect for Foster. "He is one of the best runners in football," said Coach Jackson. "We have just seen one of the best receiver-quarterback combinations this past week. This week is going to be one of the best runners in football with a quarterback that is really, really good. He is very good, tough, big, athletic, and he's very agile for a big guy. He can do it all – he can catch and he runs with it, so again, he presents a great challenge.
The defense and Coach Jackson know stopping Foster is not the only thing they have to focus on. "I have never seen one man beat 11; that's for sure," said Coach Jackson. "So, it goes back to the same thing; consistency of our guys playing on one heartbeat for 60 minutes, which will give us a chance to get done what we need to get done."
The Raiders defense has been preparing for Foster, as well as QB Matt Shaub and TE Owen Daniels. "We're excited to play these guys," said CB DeMarcus Van Dyke. "They're a great team, they're fast, so now we've got to go out there and be up for the challenge."
Safety Mike Mitchell, playing in his second game since returning from injury, is confident in his defense and is ready to match up with the Texans offense. "We're real excited," said Mitchell. "We've got a lot of defensive weapons. We like the matchups. We're just going to try to do our best, stay in coverage, and do what we've got to do. But when you're playing an efficient offense like them, it's what you get excited for because it's the NFL. They have a very efficient offense – the quarterback gets the ball out of his hands very good. So, we're going to have play real disciplined and play very well."
The Texans rushing offense is ranked fourth in the NFL, but the Raiders offense is ranked first in rushing and seventh in scoring. TE Kevin Boss, who caught four passes for 78 yards against the Patriots, is looking forward to continuing the offense's success in Texas. "As a team, we're just looking forward to getting back out there, put last week behind us, and get back on the winning side," said TE Kevin Boss.
QB Jason Campbell and his offense will match up against the Texans defense led by Wade Phillips, former Cowboys head coach. "They're good," said Coach Jackson. "Wade Phillips is there from the Cowboys; he's now the defensive coordinator. I mean there's a bunch of first and second-round picks on the defense and they're playing good; they're playing really good. Mario Williams and Antonio Smith, just to name a couple guys, and Jonathan Joseph came over from the Bengals, and Danieal Manning is playing safety and, and DeMeco Ryans is a linebacker. He's got those guys believing and playing hard and getting to the ball and making plays, so I mean it's a great challenge, but we've got to be up to it."
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders has also noticed the improvements in the Texans defense. "Wade [Phillips] has done a great job with that defense," said Coach Saunders. "They play very disciplined, they're physical, they've got a new look – they've gone from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme, and we have a lot of respect for what they're doing. I have a lot of respect for Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator. He's got them playing very, very well."
As the offense studied the Texans the week, they noticed the vast improvement from last season in the Texans defense. "I think a lot of it has to do with picking up Wade Phillip's scheme," said QB Jason Campbell. "More and more as you are watch them on film, they have a better understanding of his philosophy of playing a defense. To their credit, they have gotten a lot better. Since last season, they're a much improved defense and that's part of the reason that they're 3-1 starting out the gate; definitely, much respect."
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had a career-high 115 receiving yards against the Patriots, is ready for the next challenge. "We're going to study them and we know they have a very good defense," said Heyward-Bey. "They've got a good front seven and a secondary, work hard, and they've got a good guy who played in Cincinnati with Joseph. So, we're just going to have to be ready and play hard."
The Raiders have put the Patriots game behind them and are solely focused on their next opponent. "Every week is a challenge," said WR Derek Hagan. "Houston is another team that's in front of us and we're definitely looking forward to this road trip. Hopefully, we can come out with a victory this time."
The Silver and Black are playing for their second road win, third overall this Sunday in Texas. "Bottom line – we just have to go execute and play Raider football in order to get this job done," said Coach Jackson.