I get that Texans fans are probably frustrated with Ryan Fitzpatrick after that Giants game, but is there much of a groundswell from the fan base for a move to Ryan Mallett yet, even though he's only been in town for a few weeks?
Kollmann: I think most of the fan base realizes that Fitzpatrick will get a few more games to right the ship, but there is still an understanding at the same time that he is not the long term option. Right now Fitz is a stop gap until Ryan Mallett is caught up with the offense and that's about it. Bill O'Brien has his guy, and his guy will get on the field one way or another. Most of Houston knows that this team is likely not going to the Super Bowl, so there is less of a frenzy to "fix everything" right now than at this time last season. We're just kind of going with the flow at the moment.
If Arian Foster can't play, will there be a committee approach in the backfield, or will Alfred Blue handle most of that work?
Kollmann: Keep in mind that everything I say in this answer is based on watching the broadcast angle, as I have yet to sit down for a viewing session of the All-22 on NFL Game Rewind. I suspect that Blue will take the lead again on early downs while Grimes comes in for pass protection duty. Blue has looked like the better runner so far this season, though neither of the Texans backups are anything close to Foster. Hell, I wouldn't even say that Blue is as good as Ben Tate. He has nice size and good power that makes itself useful when fighting for extra yards against back side contain in O'Brien's zone run scheme, but his vision, top end speed, route running, and pass protection still need work right now. I like him as a number two running back that can play in spot duty on occasion, but I do not foresee him as a future number one.
Fitzpatrick has only been sacked twice in three games. Is that a function of a run-heavy attack, or is Houston's line playing as well as they seem to be on paper?
Kollmann: On paper Houston's line is certainly among the best, but there have been some worrisome signs of regression in the real world for two key pieces - Duane Brown and Chris Myers. Brown is not playing poorly per say - not even close - but he has had a lot more "close calls" in his first three games this season than at any other point in his career outside of his rookie year. If anyone can turn the pressures and QB hits that Brown has given up into sacks, it's probably Mario Williams, so keep an eye on that. As for Myers, he has played poorly. Myers sat out the entire preseason with an injury, so I am hoping that his slow start is just a product of getting back into the swing of things. Unfortunately for Fitzpatrick, however, Myers has to deal with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams this weekend. If he doesn't get right soon, this could get ugly.
Ironically, the Texans' best offensive lineman this season has been Derek Newton, who had played unspeakably poor football throughout his young career until this Bizzaro-Newton showed up to camp last August. Newton was arguably the worst right tackle in football in 2013 when he gave up a ludicrous 37 QB hurries. In 2014, however, he has averaged just one hurry a game. It is possible that Newton was never truly recovered from a 2012 injury to his patella tendon and thus performed so poorly, but seeing this kind of jump from one year to the next is still remarkable none the less. Even when Newton was healthy two years ago we had never seen him perform like this. Here's hoping he can keep up his improvement against a Bills defense that can't wait to lay a few licks on their former quarterback.
What, pray tell, can be done to try to minimize the impact that J.J. Watt can have on a game? Have any of the Texans' first three opponents had success in slowing him down?
Kollmann: The Raiders slowed Watt down with constant double and triple teams and for the most part it worked. They sold out against the league's best pass rusher and dared Houston to beat them one on one with everyone else, which of course the Texans could not do. Jadeveon Clowney would likely be feasting on single blocking right now were he on the field, but he will still be on the sidelines for another few weeks. Buffalo would be wise to double Watt at all times with either a tight end or guard and take their chances with Whitney Mercilus and Brooks Reed. For the record, neither of those names should scare you.
Can you explain to me how the Texans' opposing quarterbacks so far this season are completing 72 percent of their passes, but have only managed to convert a paltry 9-of-33 third down attempts? That's bizarre.
Kollmann: Bend but don't break, baby. Crennel likes forcing short passes and trusting his defensive backs and linebackers to tackle well enough to keep offenses from moving the chains. Where they really get in trouble is when guys like Victor Cruz break those tackles and invalidate the entire point of the scheme in the first place. But hey, it's not like C.J. Spiller, Sammy Watkins, or Fred Jackson are good at eluding tackles in open space, right?
Oh, they are? Well then... f*** me.