How long has this bye week been! I have missed Miami Dolphins football and I am excited for Sunday and the rest of the season. In fact, I am very excited by the rest of the season. Sunday we face up against the Texans, a weaker team in this version of the NFL, certainly if record is the main factor. After that things get really interesting.
San Francisco, with the familiarity between our Head Coach and the people in that camp. Three more divisional games to come, all of which have proven they can beat people, but that they can be beat too. Throw in a Herbert v Tua showdown and a game against future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers and we have some exciting football to look forward to.
But first we have to take care of the Houston Texans, and there are no easy games in the NFL. Yes, their record is inferior, but we shouldn’t take them lightly. I mean, absolutely, if we see ourselves as contenders, we have to do our thing and make sure we win. But we know its never as simple as that.
With that in mind, I sat down with the man, the myth, the legend and the kilted Texan, Graham Henderson. It’s not my first time working with Graham, and every time it is enjoyable and insightful, so let’s see what he has to say…
Welcome back mate! So thrilled to have you back, love talking stuff through with you on these occasions. Although with the current records I don’t know if you will feel the same. But for those people who haven’t seen your stuff before, give us a bit of an introduction pal.
Hello folks my name is Graham Henderson aka The Kilted Texan and I’m a Texans super fan based in Scotland and am known for my devotion to my team and my fan cave The Bull Pen. I have been an avid fan since 2008 after seeing my first Texans game in Houston that year. Since then I have seen the Texans play 30 times live with plans to see some more games this season! I also have ownership of the Texans UK Twitter page which I like to use to get the Texans community linked up.
Yeah I saw your VTs at the NFL live events a couple of years ago. Your Bull Pen is absolutely insane! Anyone who hasn’t seen it should try and find somewhere where they can check it out for sure.
So tell us about the Texans mate. It’s been a pretty rough season. A negative record and some blunt performances too. Does your record fairly reflect your performances this season or do you look at the team and see them as a group that should have more wins?
Yeah the season so far has been extremely hard going I have watched every minute of every game and witnessed 3 live this season and can say for fact at times it’s been very ugly. It’s been so bad at times that just when you think they have played bad and cannot play any worse the following week they find a way to drop the standard even further. I really thought our record would have been a lot better this year but we haven’t played anywhere near the level I thought they would. That being said and coach Lovie has said as well that we are rarely blown out and have been in most games by the final whistle, now is that due to the fact garbage time is in effect and opposition teams have backed down? I think it’s a bit of both teams have backed off and we are chasing the game so open the play calling from hyper conservative to more free flowing. I reckon with a couple better 4th quarter displays we could have maybe had one or two more wins that’s about all.
Only one or two more? Even with them, it would still be a bit of a brutal record. That must be tough to watch man. We’ve been there ourselves in recent years so I feel your pain, but at least we were in a rebuild and could cling to that. Is there an element of that for you?
Dameon Pierce for example, he must be a highlight? Amongst the losses he seems to be having a great season no?
Yeah, that’s fair. Pierce has been a huge positive on our season! The guy runs so angry it really does bring life into watching the team when he breaks of a decent run or breaks his 5th tackle in the one run. He has done a great job achieving what he has when our offense seems so one dimensional and it will most likely be a run, the key has been his yards after contact which has been the majority of the yards he has racked up this year. What a find of the draft he was and is certainly going to be someone you can use as a foundation to rebuild a franchise on. You need to remember He is a rookie and still susceptible to a mistake here and there and with a fumble in the red zone a couple weeks ago it is something he can hopefully learn to clean up and improve his game. He is also well on his way to 1000yrds and I believe that’s a great return for a rookie RB on a team with an underperforming offense like ours.
With the state of our defense I don’t know how I feel about that for Sunday. At home our defense has been pretty solid and ground down some big players. But at the same time, on the road, we have had QBs and RBs run all over us. So if Pierce hits his straps he could end up pushing your numbers up.
And he may have to have a big game after this weeks QB news. An unexpected move in my eyes, in benching Davis Mills. Is this something that fans have been hoping for? Because I thought he was well loved in Houston. Even so, he’s been benched, so what can we expect out of Kyle Allen?
Yeah from what I’m seeing the news is mixed on a QB change as I read reports. Insiders say the change is happening but Lovie hasn’t said for definite and has left the door open on it and OC Hamilton said No. As of Wednesday, Mills was still taking reps with the ones at practice but that could change tomorrow. I think the feeling is on the whole it’s maybe due as Mills seems to have regressed this year but no a situation has been ideal for the 2nd year man regards to WRs and Oline but saying that decision-making and his inaccuracies have plagued him. In the stands people have been calling for a change to try and ignite some fire in this team but I get it we are bad this year and the only thing winning games does is hurt our draft at this point, like any fan though you wanna win games. Does Allen give you that maybe, maybe not, but it certainly might energize the team and people believe this will help pierce as well which can only be a good thing. I’m not really sure what to expect from Allen on the whole but I assume it cannot be any worse than some of the QB play we have witnessed. I hope that Mills isn’t lost completely as he does have some attributes he’s just had a rough run and one thing that I’ve liked about him he is cheap, ha ha you could have a Russell Wilson contract for not much better play.
Yeah, I really didn’t know the fans were so ready to move on from him. I thought there was more love for the later-round drafted QB who seemed to be able to hold his own. Obviously, the record suggests he hasn’t performed at his best over the last 11 weeks, but yeah, a little surprised to hear he’s out.
I guess I’m nervous of that boost of energy with the new QB. We see the “new manager effect” in the UK and with soccer teams, getting new energy and new bounce from the change. I obviously hope we don’t see similar from your guys.
Meanwhile, we’re 7-3 and 7-0 in games where Tua have played an entire game. We feel optimistic that with him at the helm and with Tyreek Hill and Waddle making dangerous plays on a regular basis, that we can make a push this year.
What’s the Houston opinion on our Dolphins? Do you think our optimism is justified, or are we merely riding a wave that could come crashing down?
I don’t have a massive opinion on the dolphins to be honest they don’t really enter my radar much and if it wasn’t for the match up I probably wouldn’t take much notice and that’s no disrespect it’s just I’m a Texans fan and really only care about what my organization is doing. I see you as a team more than capable of making the playoffs this season but are they capable of overturning either the chiefs or bills when it really matters probably not, but that’s not to say you guys are a bad team. The record actually proves you are a very good team and all optimism in believing your team can do extremely well are more than justified. The crashing wave that you worry about may come when Tua’s full-game win streak comes to an end this year and it’s proven he is beatable but it’s not a thing I would worry about. If you stay healthy you will remain dangerous this season and into next no problem.
I think that is fair. We have learned a lot about Tua now he is in this environment with coaches who believe in him. We have seen some great things. But like you say, he won’t stay on this unbeaten run forever, and at that stage we will see how he copes, bounces back and responds. That will be another telltale sign.
But leaving Tua for later, who are you most worried about on our roster? Who poses the biggest threat to you in your mind?
I’m most worried about Jeff Wilson jr and Raheem Mostert, due to the fact the Texans run defense has been awful and we have been giving up on average 178 yards a game on the ground so if the trend continues these guys could go off especially if we cannot keep our defense of the field and they tire out. Bradley Chubb has tallied up some sacks this season and may get to add to that with our QB situation and if there is miscommunication with snaps or failed plays so I really expect a lot of pressure and blitz this weekend at the point of attack. It’s the chance to get some of your rushers some confidence if you ask me on a battle-weary Texans.
Well then, you’re probably glad to hear that Mostert is doubtful for the game. That takes one of those names off your radar a bit. That said, Wilson has had a fantastic start in Dolphins colors with a couple of TDs already in the bank. Chubb hasn’t had the same kind of explosive start, but is looking settled and will only get more dangerous in my opinion. Hopefully, after the bye week, we see both new acquisitions show their worth.
We’ve talked about the QB situation, and about your stand-out RB. But who else should we be concerned about in that Houston locker room? Is there anyone who is being overlooked but who could cause us issues come Sunday?
Some names to look out for could be TE Akins who has come up with some big catch and runs this season for us and is enjoying somewhat of an up season after being signed back to us after the season began. If fit and playing Derek Stingley has been another decent rookie and has been almost a lockdown corner but may not play with a thigh injury. Pitrie another rookie has shown flashes and is always in and around the ball on defense so expect to see #5 on your screens lot, he was unlucky not to have 2 picks last year but he can miss on tackles so that hopefully is something he can continue to work on this year. Another threat for us is Nico Collins who has been growing into the season with some solid performances but an injury slowed him down but came back last week so with another week under rehab he will maybe feature massively using his long-range and big body to cause issues.
Oh wow yeah, I forget about Nico Collins but I loved him within his draft profiling. Will be cool to see him in action after he’s dropped off my radar since then. That is cool, I just hope I don’t have reason to be proven right with how much I liked him haha. Stingley’s absence will be a good thing for us for sure. Especially with Hill and Waddle on the loose.
With those players in mind, and with us coming off a bye, and before that had good result against the Browns with quite a dominant performance, on the road we have not looked the same defensively. Is there anywhere specific that you think you guys will target when trying to beat us? Do you see a weakness in our roster that you can get at?
I genuinely have no idea how we will approach this game as with all our on field issues we need to learn how not to beat ourselves first. We will just need to take what the defense gives us and don’t push the envelope to much. I would say we need to get pressure on Tua but he has coped well with that this season. We are going up against a very good team and it’s going to be difficult to find a chink in the overall armor. Simple as that really.
The Kyle Allen move does make it less predictable. He has had some decent games in his back up career but he’s also been well beaten. We have to hope we can take advantage of that but you’re right, you guys aren’t even sure how you are going to play, there will be little to no film on him in this offense, so we will have to have our wits about us to make sure we don’t fall foul.
If we are going to beat you, what areas of your play and scheme should we be targeting? Where do you feel you are weakest, making the most mistakes, missing the most players or whatever? What areas of the game would you be concerned about if we started to pick at it?
Run game, run game, run game…. Like I mentioned earlier the run defense has been woeful and at some point it will get the better of us. As for throwing we play a very soft Tampa 2 with real soft spots in between the ranks that if exposed has led to big plays downfield. Everyone is fixated on our QB issues but really defensively we have not been great and have struggled to stall teams even on 3rd and long situations.
Well with Wilson and his start, and then with the threat of Waddle and Hill, that could point to a strong day for our offense. I love that this is something I can feel confident in as a fan, that hasn’t been the case in recent seasons. Plus, a big game for the offense should mean a big game for QB1 Tua Tagovailoa. I loved him pre-draft, loved that we drafted him and I am super hype that he is now balling at this level.
But what is the Houston opinion on him? Do you think he can continue his form this weekend, or do you think we have seen him peak?
I can’t speak for all of Houston on Tua, only my own opinion and that is he is capable QB that when surrounded by decent players has a high ceiling he also needs a coach he can believe in. He does seem prone to being hurt and hopefully, that won’t happen when he is most needed but apart from that he has a lot of factors to his game. Like earlier, though maybe I am blinkered but due to our own issues I tend to focus on my team and not really take notice of to much else of what other teams QBs are doing unless it is big news like playing when he should has clearly not passed a concussion protocol I felt that wasn’t in his best interest for the longevity of the man. He has been good at bouncing back and that’s a huge strength.
Well, I hope there is enough evidence in front of you this Saturday to make you sit up and taken notice. He is playing at a high level and those who only watch the highlights and red zone, probably don’t see that.
Finally, now, lets get back to the game and get some match predictions. How do you see this playing out?
Dolphins win 27-17 . Texans will come out well but won’t be a match and most points for us will come after the dolphins are way out in front and on cruise control. (Fingers crossed we win though)
Given the way you’ve talked about the roster and your situation, I have high hopes for our offense now. Seeing the way they worked in the last few weeks, coming off the bye, I am predicting good things and expect us to break 30 points on Sunday.
I’m going to take 38 – 24 in favor of the Dolphins.
I was thrilled when you said you were happy to get involved on this again. It’s a joy to talk things through with you and I genuinely hope you get some enjoyment out of this. Best of luck mate, its been a pleasure.
Football is back.
The Dolphins are back.
And we have the chance to get back to the top of the AFC East, and back into the top seeds of the AFC overall. This season can’t derail at this juncture. We can’t take it for granted, we never can, but we can and should be excited and have high expectations of a team that is performing at a high level. We have put in the hard years and we are getting the pay back.
Enjoy the ride, back the franchise and let’s re-start it all by watching the Miami Dolphins put the Houston Texans to the sword. We are making people take notice, and we continue that on Sunday!