With Joseph healthy, secondary at its best

With Joseph healthy, secondary at its best
January 12, 2013, 10:15 am
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Texans feel they can stop Brady

Texans fans have been waiting all season to see what it's like to have a healthy Johnathan Joseph and the ever improving Kareem Jackson on the field at the same time. They saw it last Saturday.

In the Texans Wild Card win over the Bengals, Cincinnati did not convert a third down and Andy Dalton went just 14-for-30 for 127 yards and without a touchdown. Much of the credit can go to the secondary. 

“We couldn’t have played any better last week, I don’t think," Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips said Thursday. "When a team doesn’t hardly complete any passes and no third downs; and the first time since 1989 a team shut out a team on third down in the playoffs, so our guys are playing well.”

You saw how complete of a secondary this is when Joseph is healthy. Joseph says that heading into Sunday's Divisional game with the Patriots he feels much better health-wise than the last time the two teams faced one another.

 “Night and day," Joseph said. "Right now, I can probably say this is the best I’ve felt all year. Obviously, back then I was good enough to play but I wasn’t at my best. Right now I can say I’m 100 percent right now.”

Joseph is heading to his second Pro Bowl in as many years even though he was hampered with a sore hamstring during stretches of the season. Joseph missed back-to-back games against Detroit and Tennessee before returning for the Texans' "Monday Night Football" game in New England. Joseph finished with nine tackles but wasn't the player he usually is on the football field. 

"They’ve got a good group of corners, but Joseph does an excellent job," Bill Belichick said this week. "He’s got good skills. He’s a playmaker and he’s gone up against top guys every week other than those two weeks that he missed. But he goes up against top guys every week and they’re very competitive.”

Joseph blanketed the Bengals A.J. Green so well in the first half of last Saturday's game, that Green wasn't even thrown to until the second half.

Phillips was asked if he would ever consider lining up Joseph against either of the Patriots lethal tight ends. Phillips said he didn't really want to answer any questions about what his defense was planning to do Sunday, but somewhat jokingly added that if Joseph was in that position he would have to deal with quite a bit.

“Yeah, if they put them out wide, not inside," Phillips said. "They push off quite a bit, so it’d be hard for him to cover him.”

When Joseph was asked about covering Aaron Hernandez he was realistic about the chances of it happening.

“Absolutely," Joseph said about being able to cover the athletic tight end. "During this game, sometimes it will probably end up like that, whether it be me or K-Jack (CB Kareem Jackson)  because those guys line up out wide so much and they pretty much are a glorified wide receiver, just listed as a tight end.”

“You just have to adjust," Joseph added. "Obviously you’re not used to seeing guys that big run that well, but for us it’s just about adjusting. Last week we played someone similarly sized as in (TE) Jermaine Gresham from the Bengals. He’s built just like those guys are built. We faced him last week and I think that we pretty good job against him, so we just have to carry over from week to week and just take it to the practice field and take it from the practice field to the game field.”

Joseph finished the season with 66 tackles and two interceptions and then added his second postseason interception Saturday when he picked of Andy Dalton in the third quarter. Joseph's secondary mate, safety Glover Quin, had a career high 105 tackles in this his fourth NFL season. After being selected in the fourth round by the Texans, Quin played corner his first two seasons. Now that he has converted to safety, Joseph feels Quin's past experiences is what makes the defense what it is.

“I think that it makes the defense go, from a standpoint that he can go in the box," Joseph said of Quin. "He’s tough enough to go in the box, first of all. A lot of guys aren’t able to make that transition. He’s up there pretty much playing a linebacker position for a big part of the game and then he’s facing off against tight ends in coverage, and I think playing cornerback helps him in that aspect of facing those tight ends in coverage because he’s a lot more used to being in space than those guys are. He’s a lot quicker than those guys are and agile. He’s a great player overall. His smartness and toughness, I think, are his biggest assets to this team.”

It will take everything this unit has to slow down the likes of Tom Brady and the No. 1 offense in the NFL. But it looks now that the Texans secondary is playing its best football at the most opportune time.

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