Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson, now a host on Houston Sports Radio 610, joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Wednesday morning to preview Sunday's AFC playoff game between the Texans and Patriots.
The Texans were routed by the Pats, 42-14, on Dec. 10, and are big underdogs for the rematch.
"The only chance they really have, quite honestly, is to do what they do at the utmost perfect level. … A lot of things have to go to plan for the Texans, particularly early in the game," Johnson said. "Essentially, their philosophy is the same week in and week out. That is, establish the running game, complement it with the play-action pass, chew up the clock -- they love those 10-, 15-play drives -- play keep-away from the other team's offense, and that's how they do it. That only works if your defense is getting three-and-outs. We know what happened last time -- the Patriots exploded on them. That's the only chance, quite honestly, that the Texans have if they're going to win this game."
Quarterback Matt Schaub struggled against the Patriots, and two of his three regular-season games after that matchup were below average as Houston limped into the playoffs.
"There's something about playing the Patriots that absolutely exposes teams to every single flaw," said Johnson, who predicts a Patriots-Broncos AFC championship game. "I think Matt was never the same. Just mentally, he seems like he's forcing balls, he's so conservative, he's so afraid of making mistakes, and it shows."
All that said, Johnson said he expects the Texans will be motivated by the result of the last meeting.
"They're tiring of hearing how bad they got beat up," he said. "So, I think it's something that will serve them well."
Ultimately, Johnson said New England's willingness to mix things up while Houston's relies on the same game plan puts the Texans at a big disadvantage.
"[The Texans] have to change what they do," Johnson said. "I played on a team there in New England where I had a coach -- it was crazy. I had never seen anything like it. We would go from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Before we played my last game ever as a pro in New England, we go up in the Super Bowl in Jacksonville [in 2005] against the Eagles and we've been playing 3-4 all season long. Hey, guess what? We're going totally something different, we're going to throw a 4-3 at them and beat them with that. And that's what we did.
"They don't do that here. They don't change what they do. I just think that makes it so much easier for the Patriots, because they pretty much know for most of the time they're going to line up and they're going to play man to man. Well, if the Patriots know going in that's what they're going to to -- it's like all they're doing all week this week is running man views. That's all they're going to do. You know how they're going to line up because they haven't changed all season. So, I don't see this game being any different."
Touching on the controversy in Washington, where coach Mike Shanahan played ailing quarterback Robert Griffin III on Sunday, leading to the QB suffering more severe ligament damage, Johnson said Shanahan's behavior proves that the coaches in this league have too much power.
"We all think our coaches actually care about our well-being," Johnson said. "Shanahan can say all day, 'I didn't want to put him in jeopardy.' Are you kidding me? Really? Are you kidding me? You see that he can't do what he needs to do against a very physical team. I don't understand why you would risk the future of your franchise by keeping him out there. It's just an ego-driven thing. Honestly, it pisses me off."
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Rob Gronkowski's meeting with the media on Friday. Gronk said he doesn't anticipate changing the way he plays, noting that he wants to "keep smashing and dashing."
Julian Edelman joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz after Patriots training camp.
We return to our weekly segments with the one and only Peter King of MMQB and NBC's Football Night in America.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Tim Kurkjian joins the program to discuss the Red Sox options at the trade deadline.
Kevin Millar joins Merloni, Fauria, and Benz to discuss David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia's struggles, and Jon Lester's contract.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
Rob gave the latest on Jon Lester trade talks and the flap between Ortiz and the Rays.
The top stories of the day as recounted by John Dennis.
John, Meter and Buck opened the show by discussing the latest flap between the Red Sox and the Rays.
Tim Kurkjian joins the program to discuss the Red Sox options at the trade deadline.
The guys discuss their easiest college classes.
After comments by Nick Caserio, the guys discuss if the Patriots should adjust their defensive approach after the additions of Brandon Browner and Darrelle Revis
We talk about the latest news surrounding Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Could he be dealt to the Dodgers?
We talk about four of the biggest mistakes the Red Sox have made over the past 30+ years.
We discuss the return of Rob Gronkowski, his comments to the media today, and what a healthy (or unhealthy) Gronk will mean for the 2014 Patriots.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
Mut and Villani are talking about the MLB All Star Game, Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter, and what are some of the worst ideas in sports.
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.
With the trade deadline looming, the next few days will be defined by how teams value prospects -- and their potential long-term contributions -- against big leaguers with established track records who can address immediate needs. Are prospects being valued accurately? Red Sox left-hander Andrew Miller -- once one of the two key chips that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins to the Tigers -- assesses the matter.
A compelling case can be made that July 24, 2004, represents as significant a landmark as any date in modern Red Sox history. On that day, a memorable brawl between the Red Sox and Yankees served as a catalyst for an epic 10-9 walkoff victory for the Red Sox over New York and indomitable closer Mariano Rivera, a game cited by many members of the 2004 team as pivotal in Boston's first championship run in 86 years. Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com and authored Idiots Revisited, discusses the landmark game.
Rob gave the latest on Jon Lester trade talks and the flap between Ortiz and the Rays.More from this show
Particularly in a year where the Red Sox have struggled while trying to integrate numerous young players into regular big league roles, accusations that Red Sox prospects are overrated -- whether by the team or writers -- have been widespread. Jim Callis of MLB.com joins the show to take stock of the matter, and to discuss the team-building impact of overrating and underrating prospects.More from this show
We discuss the return of Rob Gronkowski, his comments to the media today, and what a healthy (or unhealthy) Gronk will mean for the 2014 Patriots.More from this show