April 19, 2014

Quarterly Review: Risers and Fallers

Graham

 

Four games into the season, the Houston Texans are sitting at .500 and looking for answers. The verdict is still out on what the Texans will be, but here we are looking at the Risers and Fallers of the Texans team through the first four games. Take a look at our early list.

 

Risers

Whitney Mercilus

Have the Texans finally found a pass rushing threat off the edge? Mercilus has really put together four solid games and shown he is starting to understand what it takes to be a pass rusher in the NFL. He is showing the ability to bend around offensive tackles and use his long frame to move bigger offensive tackles. His run game defense still needs work but his early success on getting to the quarterback has been a positive for the defense.

Key Stats: 19 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries, 2 quarterback hits, 254 defensive snaps

 

Garrett Graham

Has there been any more of a quiet offensive weapon than Graham? His value was shown last season when he went out with a concussion and this year he has been a viable target for the passing attack. He is working the majority of the time as the second tight end and with the rate the offense uses two or more tight end sets, Graham is another starter for the team. He has gone across the middle and showed he can stretch the field vertically like he did against the Seahawks’ linebackers. His run game blocking still needs work but when he catches the football good things happen.

Key Stats: 12 receptions, 126 yards, 0 drops, 3 touchdowns, 10.5 yards a reception

 

Danieal Manning 

There were questions surrounding whether Manning had lost a step after his disappointing 2012 season. He was a liability in coverage giving up a 72% completion rate against him in coverage. Manning has shown that he worked hard this offseason to correct his technique associated with his coverage skills. Right now he is giving up only 55% of passes thrown in his direction, but has only given up 59 yards on 6 receptions. Through the first four games last season, he had already given up 143 receiving yards on 7 receptions. Throw in the fact Manning is playing fast in the box and providing adequate run support, he has put together a nice start to the 2013 season.

Key Stats: 15 total tackles, 1 sack, 54.5 completion rate

 

The Defense

This defense is at another level with a healthy J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing and their level of play rubs off on the rest of the defense. The #1 ranked defense is looking like the Wade Phillips led defense in 2011 when they were giving opposing quarterbacks fits with their pass rush. The pass rush has picked up of late and is only helping make this defense even better when it counts. There are some issues to tighten up but the first four games have shown that the defense is playing at a high level and doing enough to set this team up for wins, if they get help from their offensive counterparts.

Key Stats: 1st in yards given up a game (254.2), pass yards (141 yards)

 

 

Fallers

Matt Schaub

It is no secret his recent play has really doomed the Texans and created some heartbreaking losses. His interceptions come at bad times and always seem to have a lasting effect on the final scoreboard. His confidence has to be damaged and it looked like after the loss to Seattle that he, as a player, had hit rock bottom. Decision making has been his biggest nemesis and getting his team to finish off opponents has turned into another issue itself. It can only go up from here for the Texans quarterback but the shell shocked quarterback is going to have to find it in himself to right the wrongs.

Key Stats: 65.5% completion percentage, 6 interceptions (3 Returned for TDs) , 8 touchdowns

 

Gary Kubiak 

The season is resting on how he can rally his football team heading out of this first quarter of the season. He will not publicly come out and hang his players out to dry, he will protect them at all costs. It doesn’t matter how he perceives himself to the media or fan base, but how he handles things behind closed doors. There have been no signs of Kubiak losing the team, but these next few weeks will be telling signs on what direction the team will go. Playing .500 football is not where he wants this team to be, but with 12 games left in the season there is time to fix the bigger issues.

 

The Offensive Line not named Chris Myers

Injuries could be a big issue for the offensive line but when they were “healthy” for week one, signs were showing already on the poor play for the offensive line. Myers has been the lone bright spot for this group, but the others have been inconsistent for the majority of the season. If it is not getting their run game going with missed blocks or not protecting Schaub, it has been multiple issues linked to every offensive lineman that has played. They have shown some bright spots in the run game but the consistency is lacking when it comes time to make big plays. The talent is there but their play is leading to more shell shock for their quarterback, who only gets worse with the more hits he takes.

Key Stats: 11 sacks, 32 quarterback hits, 4.7 yards a carry (6th in the NFL),

 

 

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

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