Mid Season Report Card: Offensive Line
This is the start of our SOTT Mid Season Report card and we will run through every position group for the Houston Texans. We focus on the offensive line in this post and give our thoughts on the position group.
The Offensive Line Grades
Duane Brown: He gave up his first sack of the season against the Buffalo Bills but he has been as good you can ask an NFL left tackle to be. He provides what the offensive line needs, a force in the run and pass blocking game. His athletic ability really shows when the Texans let him pull to the outside and lead on pitch plays. He has been one of the top offensive lineman for the Texans this season.
Wade Smith: Smith makes a great compliment to Brown and Chris Myers but he has lapses sometimes by playing too high. He looks like he has slimmed down some from last season and he has had some issues with moving bigger defensive players off the line of scrimmage. One play he looks great getting to the second level, but soon after his feet get lazy and lets defenders bully him at the point of attack. He graded out the third best offensive lineman but his consistency needs to improve.
Chris Myers: Talk about a quiet season, but Myers has been just that. He has come a long way and him coming back to Houston has only solidified the offensive line for more seasons to come. He makes the outsize zone successful with his ability to rip the defensive lineman and still get to the second level to linebackers.
Antoine Caldwell: Caldwell was the day one starter and supplanted by Ben Jones after suffering a concussion during the Green Bay Packers game. Caldwell can’t seem to stay healthy, an ankle and his concussion issue have slowed him this season. He struggles with bigger competition but understands the run game better because of his experience. He has lapses in pass protection and his feet fail him when he needs to move to set up in pass protection. The Texans are going to roll with the hot hand at right guard but Caldwell has been serviceable at best this season.
Ben Jones: We have graded Jones this way because of what we saw from him early against Jacksonville and how quick he looked getting to the second level. Gary Kubiak mentioned he had a knee issue but if that has affected his play of late is yet to be seen. Jones looks like the NFL season is taking a toll on him and he looks like he hit the rookie wall. Considerably better in pass protection than Caldwell, he has some issues in the run game that hurt. He has issues moving people off the ball consistently and misses his cuts on the backside of the zone play. He has shown he can do it but to say he is “better” than Caldwell right now is splitting hairs, they are the same player right now
Derek Newton: Many personalities are calling for the Texans to start their right tackle search immediately. He has been better than what people give him credit for, and he is learning on the run. In the run and pass game, he has his moments, but at other times he looks like the second year player that had limited snaps as a rookie. Newton, to perform the way he has, should be a testament to how hard he has worked to become a starter for the Texans. He has given up some sacks but he has been decent for having limited experience coming into this season. He needs to keep getting better from week to week but having Ryan Harris has helped his development as a player.
Ryan Harris: The Texans should count their blessings that the Denver Broncos pulled the plug on Harris in Denver. The Texans found a starting right tackle on the free agent market that fit their scheme perfect and he has come in and been a nice compliment to Newton. Harris has shown he can move people off the ball and give some decent pass protection when needed. Harris at times has played better than his younger counterpart, but he grades out better for his production for such short time in Houston.
Be on the lookout for the other report cards coming out later this week.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter. He is the Editor of State of the Texans.