The Texans are 3-1, and their offense is one of the NFL's best. Such is the Texans' versatility and talent on that side of the ball that they could rack up 441 yards in a 31-24 victory at Oakland Sunday even with WR Andre Johnson (ankle) sidelined, WR Jacoby Jones suffering a calf injury and RB Arian Foster missing a little more than 1½ quarters for disciplinary reasons.
The Texans' defense hasn't played nearly as well, with its play vs. the pass (337.8 passing yards per game, eight passing TDs allowed) its biggest problem. However, there were some positives in the win at Oakland: The pass rush produced four sacks, and second-year FS Troy Nolan had two interceptions.
The PFW spin
The return of SLB Brian Cushing from a four-game NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances will give the Texans' defense a lift. Cushing strengthens an already strong run defense, possesses some pass-rush ability and can cover tight ends well.
"First off, Brian is a leader by his play," head coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. "He's a very fiery guy. You guys know that. He's a very physical player. Brian helps us rush the passer when we bring five and he's part of the rush. He helps us in nickel. He gives us flexibility moving around. Obviously he's a big, big part of our football team, and getting him back is important to a lot of players. Not just the team, but to a lot of players that work around him."
In the secondary, the Texans got a nice game Sunday from Nolan, who "is going to get a lot more playing time" at free safety after intercepting two passes in the win vs. the Raiders, Kubiak said Monday.
On offense, it remains to be seen if the Texans will get Johnson back this week vs. the Giants. According to Kubiak, Johnson probably won't practice until Thursday. With Johnson out, TE Joel Dreessen was the Texans' leading receiver at Oakland with five catches, 73 yards and a TD.
The Texans also got a 10-yard TD catch off play-action from QB Matt Schaub to Foster, who rushed for 131 yards on just 16 carries and sprinted away for a 74-yard score in the first minute of the second half.
"He got his opportunity to go back out there and show his teammates that he can do his job and be accountable. He did that," Kubiak said of Foster, who missed a team meeting and was late to another, according to the Houston Chronicle. "It's over, move on. He did his job."
Considering the circumstances, the Texans' win at Oakland was pretty impressive. A deep, talented, resilient team wins like that on the road. After a humbling loss to Dallas, a bounce-back win at Oakland was a positive sign for a club trying to make the postseason for the first time in team history.