Conventional wisdom says that in the playoffs the best players need to make the biggest plays. For the Texans, though, Andre Johnson has done that and more over the last two months but the Texans have stumbled into the playoffs having lost three of the last four regular season games.
“Andre’s played huge, had as big a year as he’s ever had for me offensively,” Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said on Thursday. “It seems like the last eight weeks the ball’s been circled around him a bunch. But I think we play our best when it gets spread out, when some other guys are making some plays.”
That’s not just coach speak. In the Texans three losses at the end of the season, Johnson has had 27 catches for 333 yards. Tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham, so often a key component in Kubiak’s offense, hauled in just 11 passes for 98 yards in those same games.
“We need to run our routes well, win against man coverage,” tight end Owen Daniels said. “I think we’ll get some of it. A lot of times two people are playing ‘Dre, over the top. A lot of times that puts us up on a safety or a linebacker. If they’re covering him up it’s up to us to win. We just need to be clean there, get open and catch the ball.”
The tight ends should get plenty of opportunities against a Bengals team that will send extra rushers to disrupt the offense.
“They do a lot of different types of blitzing and you’ve got to know when they’re blitzing,” Daniels said. “You’ve got to be aware of when you’re a hot read and just be very aware of things in that respect. If we are then we’ll be open and we’ll make plays. And the big plays off blitzes, it’s a risk for them to blitz, a risk-reward situation and the offense has a chance to make big plays off of it.”