HOUSTON (AP) – The Texans took advantage of an ailing Byron Leftwich to capture a decisive win over Jacksonville in their first game this season.
Now they’ll meet again, but this time Houston will face the mobile David Garrard while Leftwich watches from the bench.
Leftwich managed just 125 yards passing in the 27-7 loss to Houston and hasn’t played since. Garrard won the last two games to improve to 6-1 as a starter in the last two years.
“It will be like playing against a new team because he doesn’t do the same things that Leftwich does and he’s going to throw a totally different look at us,” said cornerback Dunta Robinson.
Garrard threw for 177 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 37-7 win over Tennessee while Leftwich continued to deal with an injured left ankle. He also has run for 50 yards in the last two games.
“He’s going to create some extra downs for them in third down situations,” said defensive end Anthony Weaver. “He has the ability to scramble and make something out of nothing and that’s something that worries you as a defense.”
Texans coach Gary Kubiak thinks highly of Garrard and noted that he was one of the most sought after players in the offseason.
“He can move,” Kubiak said. “He makes a lot of plays with his feet. It’s obvious their team responds to him because they have played so well when he’s played these past weeks.”
Though the bulk of Houston’s defense is new this season, the Texans have seen Garrard before. He threw for a career-high 292 yards in leading the Jaguars to a 38-20 win over Houston last season while Leftwich was injured.
Robinson said limiting Garrard’s mobility will be a key to getting a win.
“If he can get loose it gives his receivers more time to get open,” he said. “If you can get pressure on a guy like that and keep him inside the pocket, keep him contained, then you have a pretty good chance of being successful against him.”
The game will be another test for a Houston defense that has been steadily improving each week after starting the season poorly. They were allowing an NFL-worst 418 yards a game through the first three weeks, but are now giving up a more respectable 349.5.
Weaver has seen the young unit’s confidence grow throughout the season.
“Right now the most important thing is we’re all on the same page,” he said. “You don’t have guys out there trying to do too much. We all trust in each other and trust in the game plan.”
He said facing Garrard will force the defense to try different tactics than the ones they used successfully against Leftwich.
“It changes your approach a little bit,” he said. “The thing about playing a mobile quarterback is it can make you a little bit passive on defense.