Miraculous is too strong a word, but the early season turnaround orchestrated by the Texans has fashioned quite the unexpected result: Houston sits alone atop the AFC South.
The next obstacle for the Texans (4-3), who survived three consecutive white-knuckle conclusions before extending their winning streak to four games with a two-touchdown road victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, is to overcome the difficulty of a short week of preparation for Miami.
The Dolphins (4-3) come to Houston’s NRG Stadium on Thursday.
Houston coach Bill O’Brien said he had a plan in place for managing this week’s challenges long before the Texans’ recent run of resourceful play.
“Obviously, when you’re in the previous week, as you get to later in that week, you’re wrapping up the Jacksonville game plan and now you begin to look ahead to Miami,” O’Brien said.
“The schedule came out six months ago, so you knew that this was going to be a short week. So, hopefully, you’re a little bit ahead of the game so that when you get back from Jacksonville, boom, you have a real good idea of what you want to do. You watch the last Miami game, (the) Detroit game, and try to wrap up what you want to do so you can be ready for the players on the next day.”
Already hamstrung by the loss of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who will miss his third consecutive game with a shoulder injury, the Dolphins’ 25th-ranked passing attack remains shorthanded with receivers Kenny Stills (groin) and Albert Wilson (hip) out.
Neither made the trip to Houston on Tuesday, with the Dolphins opting to leave earlier than they did for Thursday night games at Cincinnati in 2016 and Baltimore last year. Miami dropped both of those games.
“Yeah, obviously the last two years what we’ve done really hasn’t paid off,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said, “so we just felt like it was a good opportunity for us to change it up. Talking with some of our players, they thought it was a good idea with how we scheduled it with our workouts, meetings, leaving early, just do something different.
“(Wednesday) we’ll be able to do a walk-through. We have meetings kind of all over the place between (Tuesday) and tonight, tomorrow. We’re just trying to get our players all the information throughout the week and have as many walk-throughs as possible and just keep talking and covering things all the way up to the game.”
—Field Level Media