The Texans workweek of rehashing their 42-14 loss at New England on Dec. 10 gets underway today.
I got a head start Tuesday night as I spoke with the team’s very talented left tackle, Duane Brown.
How much better can the Texans be in just five weeks?
Brown thinks the Texans got back in the right frame of mind with their 19-13 win over the Bengals in the wild card round, getting back to the style of football that got them 12 regular season wins and the AFC South title.
“We came out and played Texans football, we had gotten away from that,” Brown said. “We came out and played great defense, running the ball, controlling the clock, making more plays than the other team.
“We got our confidence back, we got our faith back. That’s what we needed heading into this game. We know it’s not going to be easy, we know that we’re going to have to play the best we’ve ever played to be able to come away with a victory. But I think last week definitely helped us take a step forward.”
It sounds good. But does the mindset last when the Patriots do something good early or deliver a big blow?
I think the Texans have done plenty over the last two seasons to answer questions about their toughness. We don't hear them labeled as a finesse team so much now that they regularly pound the ball with Arian Foster.
But with their poor regular-season finish, plenty of critics think they aren't mentally tough enough to endure a playoff gauntlet. Their zone blocking run game tends to be more about positioning than power, which can feed the incorrect idea that they aren't physical, which somehow feed the idea they lack mental toughness.
"If anybody has questions surrounding our toughness or physicality, I don't pay any attention to it," Brown said. "We have one of the top running backs who's rushed pretty well the whole year. We've had some bad games. The scheme is what it is. I don't think any guy on our front line is weak or soft. We have a certain kind of player that fits the scheme well and blocks it pretty well.
"I don't think you'll find many defenders that think our line is soft."