A look at the Seahawks’ opponent this week as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Texans in Houston:
When: Sunday, 10 a.m. PT, Reliant Stadium, Houston
Record: 2-1 after Sunday’s 30-9 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore
Where they rank: No. 7 in offense (9th rushing, 9th passing); No. 2 in defense (No. 9 rushing, No. 2 passing)
TV: FOX (Q13 in Seattle), with Chris Myers, Tim Ryan and Jennifer Hale
Series: Tied 1-1, with the Texans winning the last meeting 34-7 in Houston in 2009
Star power: J.J. Watt. Not that there aren’t other candidates on this team – the Pro Bowl trio of running back Arian Foster, wide receiver Andre Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub; linebacker Brian Cushing, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2009; and free safety Ed Reed, a future Hall of Famer and nine-time Pro Bowl selection in 11 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens who signed with the Texans in free agency this year. But in 35 games since being the 11th pick overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Watt has 29 sacks – including a league-leading 20.5 last season, when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and voted All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl. He also had 16 passes defensed, a league record for a defensive lineman; and was involved in 95 plays that resulted in no gain and lost yardage. This season, he has three sacks.
As for Watt the player, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll offered, “He’s as good as you can get. He’s a phenomenal football player. … He has the great motor that we talk about, is just a relentless pursuit guy. He’s good at the point of attack. He chases the ball well. He’s a very creative and disruptive pass-rusher. He’s just a great football player.”
Unsung hero: Shane Lechler. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection while with the Oakland Raiders, Lechler signed with the Texans this offseason and the veteran punter has picked up right where he left off. Lechler’s average of 48.3 yards on 15 punts ranks No. 7 in the NFL, 2.4 yards behind league leader Marquette King, who replaced him with the Raiders. But Lechler also has put 11 of his punts inside the 20-yard line, which ties for the second most in the league.
On the spot: Schaub. The two-time Pro Bowl quarterback? Yes, the same Matt Schaub. Commuters in Houston on Monday morning saw “Cut Schaub” spelled out in cups inserted into a chain-link fence on the North Street Bridge that crosses I-45. After the game, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle gave the QB an “F” for his performance, which includes having an interception returned for a touchdown for second consecutive game.
Familiar faces: After last week’s multi-connection matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars, this one comes down to running backs coach Chick Harris, who was the Seahawks’ running backs coach from 1983-91.
The last word: “This better be a wake-up call because we can’t keep playing like this. We keep digging holes, and good teams like the Ravens make you pay for that. We’ve got to get going from the beginning.” – Cushing after Sunday’s loss, when the Texans went up 6-0 early in the second quarter only to be outscored 30-3 the rest of the game