Texans Pulse: Risers and Fallers
We take another look at the Risers and Fallers of the Houston Texans heading into week seven of the season. There are some new names on this list and some familiar ones, but right now they all have some bearing on what is happening to the team at the moment.
Take a look.
The Defensive Line
The group has been underwhelming, to say the least, with the exception of J.J. Watt and Earl Mitchell. These two have been holding up their end of the bargain, but opposing teams are not scared to go right after Antonio Smith, Jared Crick and Terrell McClain. Not to mention, the pass rush has been struggling from the interior and, minus Watt, Antonio Smith has 2.5 sacks and the others have zero. Also, the disappearance of Tim Jamison has been a mystery. He has only been active one game all season where he used to provide some key pass rush prior to his achilles injury in 2012.
The one game scheme that the Texans use up front has been getting worked in the trenches and allowing offensive linemen to get to the inside linebackers. The defensive line has to do a better job of controlling their double teams to keep the linebackers as free players to make plays.
J.J. Watt: 342 snaps, 3.5 sacks, 15 quarterback hurries, 9 quarterback hits, 28 total tackles
Antonio Smith: 229 snaps, 2.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries, 0 quarterback hits, 14 total tackles, 1 caused fumble
Earl Mitchell: 200 snaps, 0 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 0 quarterback hits, 15 total tackles
Jared Crick: 129 snaps, 0 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, 0 quarterback hits, 9 total tackles
Terrell McClain: 48 snaps, 0 sacks, 0 quarterback hurries, 1 quarterback hit, 2 total tackles
Tim Jamison: 9 totals snaps, 0 sacks, 0 quarterback hurries, 0 quarterback hits, 0 total tackles.
Let’s be honest here and realize what Braman was supposed to be for this team this year. He was supposed to be the special teams leader and spot fill on defense, but none of this has happened to this point. As the special teams ace, he has 3 tackles for the season and has been having issues with blocks and coverage of kicks. He has been out of control in coverage which has led to some big returns for opposing teams. He has as many missed tackles as he does tackles this season in three. During training camp, Braman had an underwhelming preseason and was in jeopardy of not making the final cut. He is showing the same type of play that he showed during camp. At this point, his roster spot is just a spot that has no real value and it does not look like his play will get any better at this point.
The Texans defense has been labeled as a man to man defense and they are not going to change according to Head Coach Gary Kubiak. When there has been little pass rush, the Texans pass coverage is exposed in a big way in one on one situations. There has been little adjustments on the defensive side despite their deficiencies to get to the quarterback. The blitzes have slowed down and the dependency on four man rushes has not been working too well. Personnel is struggling, namely Brooks Reed, in pass rush situations, but there has been no change to help that out. Willie Jefferson made this team because of his pass rush capability but he has not been used but 20 snaps on defense this year, not even to spot help in pass rush situations. Shiloh Keo will be used as a starter once again despite a faster and more athletic D.J. Swearinger playing only in nickel situations. There is the thought process that since Keo has been with the team and knows the defense, that he is the guy to take over the spot. The defense has stagnated the growth of defensive players in the past. Letting better players play is key, but Phillips refuses to even give the younger players a chance. It is the same story defensively that prides themselves on disciplined football and the defense is getting beat with the same plays over and over. The defense needs an injection of life starting this week, but the rotations are stale and it is hurting the team in the process.
There has been little talk of Brandon Brooks and the job he has done to this point. He has only given up one sack in 398 snaps on offense and has done a pretty solid job in pass protection. He has only gotten better in the run game and his ability to move at his size and get to the second level is impressive. There was talk of Brooks really understanding what he needed to do during training camp and he has really put it together in the early part of this season. Next to Chris Myers, they have formed a nice combination in the zone running scheme and it has been fun to watch how well they work together in pass protection.
The fullback has taken some time to get used to the Texans’ system and get going, but Jones has been a big part of the recent success of Arian Foster. He has been clearing the way for Foster and is moving linebackers by delivering blows in the hole. Most impressive has been his pass protection the last two games and his ability to read the blitzes coming off the edge. He has been criticized for his slow start, but he has really picked it up and it has shown with Foster’s success.
He finally channeled the 2011 version of Foster and has started to look how he did as a successful runner. His long strides and vision looks to be back and against the St. Louis Rams he finally hit the cut back lane that usually results in big runs for the offense. When Foster gets rolling, the offense only gets that much better, and with a struggling quarterback situation he only becomes that much more important for the team. His values lies in more than just running the ball, and getting Foster back involved in the passing game is key. He can be a dangerous pass catcher when he gets the ball in the flats or on a screen play, and that is what makes him a vital piece of this offense. He is coming around and it will only help this offense more as the season goes on.