• Brian L. Barefield

The Road Doesn’t Get Any Easier

Photo Credit/ Baltimore Ravens

Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’ Brien probably had to take a long walk after the NFL released the schedule for the start of the 2020 NFL season. Although the Texans have a very rough month to begin their season, at first glance, those first two weeks had to be brutal on the eyes.

On last week Houston opened the season against the reigning Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs in a primetime Thursday night game in Arrowhead Stadium. Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes helped lead the Chiefs to victory by a score of 34-20.

Yet, the road doesn’t get any easier for the Texans with the reigning NFL MVP quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson headed to NRG Stadium on Sunday. Baltimore is considered one of the top five teams in the NFL and if you don’t have the Chiefs headed back to the Super Bowl to represent the AFC, then you have the Ravens playing in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa in 2021.

“You’re going up against the best,” said O’Brien during his daily press conference. “We were a playoff team last year; we played the Super Bowl champs last week and now we’re playing a team that was 14-2 last year.”

Photo Credit/ Baltimore Ravens

The Texans will have a tough task trying to secure their first win of the season against the Ravens. Jackson is a walking mismatch once he touches the field and he has a lot of offensive weapons at his disposal. Baltimore averaged at least 200 rushing yards and 200 yards passing per game in a season which was tops in the league.

With a receiving group that consists of speed in Marquis “Hollywood” Brown and dependability in Pro-Bowl tight end in Mark Andrews, Jackson can get up the field in a very timely manner. But Baltimore would rather take their time and use one of the most potent rushing attacks that includes running back Mark Ingram and rookie J.K. Dobbins.

The Ravens set an NFL record for rushing yards in a single season with 3,296 to go along with the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense at 33.2 points per game on last year. It is up to new defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver to devise a scheme that can contain Jackson and all those other offensive weapons on Sunday.

“There’s so much assignment football involved,” Weaver said. “You’ve got to be really detailed in what you’re teaching defensively and then you’ve still got to tackle that quarterback who is dynamic with the ball in his hands. They definitely present a problem. They do a great job, but I think we’re going to be up to the task this weekend.”

For as much concern as the Texans have about the Ravens quarterback, the feelings are mutual from their opponent. Baltimore knows that the Texans have an elite signal caller on their team who can turn a game around with his awareness behind the center.

Photo Credit/Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson brings a unique leadership characteristic to the game to go along with the ability to take over a game at any time. That alone makes Baltimore’s defensive coordinator Don Martindale take notice and makes sure that all his defensive players know where No. 4 is at all times.

“He gets better every year. He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback for a reason,” said Martindale on Thursday during his press conference via Zoom.

Watson is well aware that he was sacked six times and was under constant pressure from the Ravens defense in a 41-7 loss last season but will not allow that to play any factor once he takes the field Sunday.

“Last year’s game is last year’s game,” Watson reiterated to the media. “This is a new year, so we’re not really focused on what happened in that game.”

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