The expected has become official with Brian Cushing, and the Texans’ defensive anchor who was injured last night after a questionable block by Jets guard Matt Slauson will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.
Head coach Gary Kubiak confirmed the results of an MRI during his Tuesday afternoon press conference. There are several options to replace Cushing, but Kubiak said that Tim Dobbins, who came in last night at middle linebacker, will carry on in that role.
When a team losses its tackle leader from both this year and last year, that’s bad. It wasn’t even close last year either, as Cushing had 114 tackles, while Glover Quinn was second with 77. As we discussed this morning, the Texans overcame injuries last year that were all potentially crushing in nature. But the most prominent injuries were to the two starting quarterbacks (Matt Leinart and Matt Schaub), and that just necessitated an even heavier leaning on the run game for an offense that was already trending in that direction. And when Mario Williams went down, there was some guy named J.J. Watt to be scary on the defensive line.
Even though the next man up mentality of season-ending injuries waits for one one, replacing Cushing doesn’t come with an easy solution like tweaking the gameplan, or plugging in another player from a deep depth chart who’s nearly his equal. No, replacing Cushing simply won’t happen.
This is when fantasy owners of any running back on any team look up and down Houston’s schedule, and begin scheming. It starts this weekend with the Packers, and their new running back committee that will maybe, likely be led by Alex Green. Suddenly he has great flex play value, especially for Matt Forte and Maurice Jones-Drew owners who are scouring the waiver wire during a bye week.
Beyond that, the list of top tier running backs now waiting to tee off on a severely depleted run defense is, well, lengthy.
Ray Rice is next up in Week 7, and a year ago he had 161 all-purpose yards against the Texans with a healthy Cushing. Then there’s Forte (Week 11), Jones-Drew (Week 12), and god willing even Chris Johnson (Week 13) can resemble a Pop Warner running back when he’s not facing Cushing whackings repeatedly. But the highlight is Adrian Peterson, and his date against Houston in Week 16, otherwise known as fantasy championship week.
So yes, feel free to rejoice, Peterson owners. But Texans fans, welp, boom goes the dynamite.