March 21, 2018

The Rundown: The Hopkins Edition (Titans)

It took overtime for the Houston Texans to push their record to 2-0 with a 30 to 24 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The Titans came out playing, especially on defense where they had a field day with some big hits on Matt Schaub in the pocket. The game had an odd flow with a safety, missed field goals, a punting battle and two challenges that Gary Kubiak won to help swing the game in favor of the Texans.

The Texans were favorites in both games and struggled in both, but put together enough of a game to put away the win. There are issues growing but this early sloppy football can be corrected as the season goes on.


The Rundown

– Two drives accounted for most of the yards for the Titans offense. Other than that, the defense kept the Texans in the game.

– Head Coach Gary Kubiak almost cost the Texans a big opportunity on missing a challenge on a pass that appeared to hit the ground. His entire defensive staff on the sideline was yelling at him to challenge and even players on the field were too, he didn’t. That drive resulted in a 99 yard march for a 10 yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker. He did get two of his challenges right on a safety call and the Andre Johnson catch close to the goal line. It could have been an issue if the Texans would have lost the game, but a late offensive display put that talk to rest.

– Questions all of sudden are raised about kicker Randy Bullock and his early season performance. It looks like a mental situation for him right now and not a physical issue. Here are some key stats about Bullock.





– It is apparent what Shane Lechler brings to this team and he has been unreal in his first two games with the Texans. With 10 punts averaging 47.3 yards a punt, 8 have been inside the 20. He has only allowed 23 yards of return yards and has made some long fields for offenses to drive.

– Linebacker Darryl Sharpton played better than expected and he helped stabilize the defense after Joe Mays struggled early in the game. Sharpton made some key open field tackles in coverage on Chris Johnson. He played fast and made his doubters, even us, quiet down with a solid game.

– It seems like Chris Johnson brings out another side of Brian Cushing. Cushing was all over Johnson and was playing physical football inside the box. He also looks like he is still getting into football shape, but he finished the afternoon with 11 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 TFLs. His presence makes the defense that much better but he still has work to do before he gets back to his old self.

– The pressure is off of J.J. Watt to feel he has to make every play for the Texans on defense. Cushing coming back has helped Watt mentally and the two together is as good of a tandem as on any defense. Watt had 2 sacks, 4 QB hits and 2 pass deflections, and throw in the fact he had 5 tackles. He also made some runs bounce to teammates with his penetration into the backfield. He may not make the stat sheet like others but his presence is being felt on defense.

– Antonio Smith made a big difference for the Texans and made a key stop on a 4th and short and slowed down Chris Johnson into a Joe Mays tackle for a safety. His activity for the defensive front makes his teammates better and he was much more focused on the task at hand on Sunday.

– Don’t sleep on the job safety Shiloh Keo did against the Titans. He made some key open field tackles that could have resulted in big plays for the Titans. Wade Phillips has put Keo in positions to succeed and has given him just enough responsibilities to be a good player early for the defense. There were questions on if Keo could handle his role as a starter. He has passed his first two tests with passing grades.

– 5 receptions, 92 yards and a touchdown in the 4th quarter and in overtime for the rookie DeAndre Hopkins. What was more impressive was him taking over the game in Andre Johnson’s absence. This is what the offense needs, another player who can change the game by themselves. With Hopkins going over the 100 yards (117) for the day, it was the first time since 2010 that another wide receiver not named Andre Johnson has reached that number.

– There has been talk of equal distribution for Arian Foster and Ben Tate but there is reason to believe this will not happen. Foster is the choice right now for the offense and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.

– Elephant in the Room

Let’s not act like the Texans’ offensive line has been the best the past two weeks, and against the Titans they looked much worse than last week. The Titans dialed up blitzes that confused the offensive line and left free shots on Matt Schaub. Chris Myers has been one of the bright spots and he has done what he has always done, play at a Pro Bowl level. Not saying Brandon Brooks and Derek Newton don’t have their issues, but it seems like the left side of the line with Wade Smith and Duane Brown struggled the most. Brown tweaked his ankle (the same one he had surgery on before training camp) which slowed him some late in the game. As for Smith, he has been pushed around in run blocking and pass protection. This is a growing concern and the offensive line gave up 2 sacks with 8 quarterback hits. Brown has already given up three sacks in two games where he gave up 4 all season in 2012 and zero in 2011.



No particular order

1. Garrett Graham

He started his rise last season but he has two touchdowns in as many games. Call him a touchdown vulture, but Graham is becoming a key weapon for this offense. Teamed up with Owen Daniels, they are creating issues in the middle of the field. Look for Graham to keep growing in this offense.

2. DeAndre Hopkins

No secret on what he can do and the rookie took over the game in overtime. He had tight rope catches on the sideline and he went and high pointed the football in the air on fade routes from Matt Schaub. There are no words for his performance but this is the Hopkins that showed up during training camp. In one on one situations, more times than not, Hopkins will win the football. 

3. D.J. Swearinger

He has kept quiet but his speed on the field for the defense in nickel situations makes a difference. Next to Cushing, he is learning how to take on bigger offensive linemen and he is a tough player who is making plays. Throw in what he has done to make plays in punt coverage, the second rounder is learning the game at an exponential level and it shows on the field. 



No particular order

1. Wade Smith

If it is the knee or just a decline in play, Smith has been struggling at left guard. Pass protection and run blocking have been soft and this is for a player who in 2011 was playing at a high level. This will be something to monitor but the first two games of the season will be something we all want to forget. 

2. Brooks Reed

He plays the run well but his pass rush has been non-existent. He is a very average player and for a team that is looking for a pass rush, he has not evolved in that department. Once he gets latched on by an offensive lineman, he is not going to have a counter move to get loose. 

3. Randy Bullock

A strong leg is not the issue but rather his mental part of the game. The Titans played the “ice” game with him at the end of regulation, which resulted in a ball kicked off the left upright. Throw in his earlier misses (both pushed right), Bullock is 1 for 5 early this season. He has missed some long kicks but being a “drafted” kicker only raises expectations. 


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

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: