March 22, 2018

The Rundown: Titans Edition

It is still hard to believe that we would say, at any point, that the Houston Texans are 4-0, even after they beat the Tennessee Titans 38-14. The Texans fell flat for a short time in the first half when the score was 14-7 going into halftime, but thanks to Titans right tackle David Stewart he woke up the defense in a big way. Stewart pulled Brooks Reed‘s hair, threw a hay maker that landed on Tim Jamison’s head, and started anything he could with any player in the Deep Steel Blue on Sunday.

24 unanswered points later buried the Titans and made the home crowd of Reliant happy on their drives home.



The Rundown

– The special teams coverage was the best it has been all season with a healthy Bryan Braman and Tim Dobbins, the two helped solidify the struggling unit. Braman on the first three coverage plays made all three tackles and add on the help of Alan Ball and Jesse Nading, the special teams unit is full strength once again. It is good to see Braman and Dobbins fully healthy, creating issues for returners and pinning offenses deep in their own territory.

– Brooks Reed has been playing well on the outside for the Texans in the early part of the season. Reed has also added pass coverage into his bag of tricks and does an adequate job when the ball is in the air. He had 3 total tackles with a pass deflection, but he has shown much more quickness off the snap of the football. Look for Reed to keep developing and understanding the position as the season continues.

– Tight end Owen Daniels is only making the offense that much better and against the Titans it was easy to see. He was targeted 6 times and had 6 catches for 72 yards and a touchdown, and it was the touchdown that put the nail in the coffin. He broke two tackles and ran over the last defender to get into the end zone. If there is any player that is benefiting the most from Schaub being back, it has to be Daniels. Another target in the passing game will only mean more issues for defenses to worry about.

– Also it was good to see James Casey involved with the offense.  When used right, you can see the match-up issues he can create. Casey was targeted 5 times and had 5 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown catch to open up the game. Casey has been working hard on lead blocking, but his true value lies when he catches the football. It will be interesting to see if they keep him involved with the offense moving forward.

– Kareem Jackson has been playing at another level and he capped off his stellar day with a 63 yard interception return for a touchdown. He also showed some awareness when he deflected a deep ball intended for Kendall Wright, Jackson was step for step with him down the field. Some refuse to accept what they are seeing, but this is not the Jackson from 2010 or 2011.  He is showing his maturity as a football player.

– The safety play of Glover Quin and Danieal Manning against the Titans was pretty impressive, and both provided impact plays. Quin knocked starting Titan quarterback Jake Locker out of the game on a well-timed blitz to sack him in the first quarter, while Manning jump started the team with a 55 yard interception return for a touchdown. The evolution of the two safeties has been something to watch, as both can play inside the box, blitz, tackle and cover with the best of them. Quin and Manning make one of the top tandems of safeties in the NFL, and they are only getting more comfortable in the scheme.

– That guy J.J. Watt was at it again. 5 total tackles, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery. It is hard to keep commenting on his play, but let’s enjoy it while it is happening.



– The offensive line is having issues creating running lanes in the running game and it is a real issue against bigger trench players on defense. The offensive line is moving too much side to side and not creating a push to get the defensive line moving back into the linebackers. Chris Myers, Ben Jones, Derek Newton and Ryan Harris are all out of sync in the run game and, as a group, they are not getting linebackers on the ground when they cut block. At times it feels like Arian Foster and Ben Tate do not trust what is in front of them running the football and want to bounce everything outside. This will need to be fixed because the Texans are much more successful offensively when they run the football.

– I am trying to be patient with Connor Barwin but it almost feels like he is pressing out there. No longer is he a surprise either, and he is going against top-notch talent at the tackle position. Jake Long (Mia.), Eugene Monroe  (Jax.) Ryan Clady (Den.) and now Michael Roos (Ten.) all have handled Barwin, but all four of the named players are really good at their position. Barwin has been non existent in pass rush and struggled some in the run game against the Titans, especially in run contain. Hopefully Barwin can clear his head and get back to what we saw from him in 2011.

– Brian Cushing was a tackling machine after he racked up 10 total tackles and looked active all across the field. Cushing still looks hesitant but he is making plays when it counts. It feels like his production is down but it is the lack of impact plays he is not making. Last season he was sacking the quarterback and intercepting the football, and that has not started to fall for him this season. He has been solid in the middle for the defense and been doing his part to make the Texans a top unit in the NFL.

– There is not much to say about the job Trindon Holliday is doing in the return game, which is not much at the current moment. Holliday with all the excitement in the preseason, has been a real disappointment in the regular season. The low yardage on returns is one thing, but the mental part of the game is what should be looked at. He has made some late calls in the punt return game telling his players to get away from the football. Today he failed to fair catch a punt and it almost hit Antonio Smith who was blocking down field. To make matters worse, the ball rolled inside the 10 yard line to pin the Texans deep.  This is not the first time to see this from Holliday. The mental part of the game is what makes Holliday scary and the hits he took today were not for the faint of heart. What the coaching staff decides to do with him moving forward will be up for debate, but the lack of production and football I.Q. should have fans uneasy.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.

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