Passing is generally a lot easier when the opposition’s top cornerback is watching football instead of playing football. Matthew Stafford, this is your life. Today.
As was widely expected, Johnathan Joseph’s game-time decision didn’t go in his favor, and he’ll miss the Texans’ game against the Lions today in which the winner gets to eat all of the turducken. This, of course, is fun news for Stafford and Calvin Johnson owners, as a Texans defense that overall ranks seventh against the pass while allowing an average of 213.6 yards per game is a shadow of itself in the secondary without Joseph.
Please recall how this other, much weaker Texans defense looked without Joesph against the Jaguars in Week 11, and the lethal, feared gunslinger you know as Chad Henne. Kareem Jackson replaced Joseph, and he was repeatedly and thoroughly burned, with Henne passing for 354 yards. Our abacus indicates that’s 141 more yards than Houston’s per game average against the pass. That’s, um, a lot.
Then there’s the fact that the guys who did the burning on the catching end were named Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon. Shorts’ outburst isn’t notable regardless of the opponent, although I suppose any time a receiver averages 27 yards per catch in a game that’s always sort of a big deal. Shorts has five touchdowns this year, and 358 receiving yards over his last four games, a stretch that’s included receptions of 67 and 52 yards. He’s burnin’ cornerbacks everywhere with hot fire.
No, it’s Blackmon’s boom that was pretty eye-catching when we assess the Texans’ defense sans Joseph. Blackmon had 236 receiving yards on seven catches, two of which went for over 60 yards. That means in one game Blackmon had over half of his receiving yardage on the season, as prior to Week 11 he was plodding along with just 250 yards over nine games, and even with that explosion his single-game receiving average is still only 48.6 yards.
Yeah, this could be the best Thanksgiving ever for Stafford and Johnson owners, although I still maintain that if you’re desperately pushing for the playoffs, you should bench Stafford in favor of Colin Kaepernick. Given the Texans’ likely glaring weakness while defending the pass today, that’s a hell of a statement on just how favorable Kaepernick’s matchup is Sunday against the Saints.