Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak conceded that playing a road postseason game with a rookie quarterback who has only six starts under his belt is not the best situation.
About a year ago, T.J. Yates was taking snaps under center for the University of North Carolina. Now in his rookie year, Yates, a fifth-round draft choice, has been pressed into the starting lineup due to injuries to starter Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart, and he’s preparing to head on the road to face one of the NFL’s best defenses in a very intimidating environment.
That’s the biggest reason why the Ravens appear to have the advantage going into Sunday’s divisional-round matchup with the Texans.
Kubiak said he’s a little worried about how Yates will perform in front of the sellout crowd of over 71,000 at M&T Bank Stadium.
“There’s concern from the standpoint of … what will this be, (six) starts for the young man,” Kubiak said today on a conference call with Baltimore reporters, via MASNSports.com. “He’s a very young player and this is a tall task for him, but we’ve tried to kind of build our team a little differently here over the course of last two months so that we can hopefully be successful and find a way to win games. I think in the process, he’s grown, and he’s gotten better. He’s made some mistakes but he finds a way to correct them.
“It still ultimately comes down to how we play as a team. It’s not all about our quarterback, it’s how we play as a football team in all three phases.”
In Yates’ six starts, the Texans have leaned a great deal on their rushing attack, which ranks second in the league. Having thrown an average of just 22 passes a game, Yates has been doing a ton of handing off to Arian Foster and Ben Tate since being given the keys to the Texans offense.
The offensive philosophy has changed quite a bit since Yates has taken over as the team’s starting quarterback. In 10 starts, Schaub was averaging 29 passes per game.
Last week, against a solid Cincinnati Bengals defense, Yates was a pedestrian 11-of-20 for 159 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. For the Ravens to get Yates and the Texans’ offense off their game, they’ll need to bring pressure early and often.