Texans Move To 3-1 Despite Struggling Offensive Line
The good news through the first quarter of the season is that the Texans have been able to grind out a 3-1 record, and there is still the potential for the team to get better as the season progresses.
Heading into this year I felt that the Texans would get off to pretty good start, and one of the biggest reasons why was because of a favorable schedule.
I also thought that the Texans would have a surprisingly good offense but that hasn’t really been the case yet.
We all know the limitations of Ryan Fitzpatrick, but he has enough ability and more than enough weapons for the Texans to have a good passing attack.
I might have unrealistic belief in Ryan Fitzpatrick to run a good offense but the potential is there.
Because of that I have been underwhelmed in the offense’s ability to move the ball, and the biggest issue has been the inconsistent blocking by the offensive line. It is irrational to believe that Ryan Fitzpatrick can become a top 12 NFL quarterback this late into his career, which is why everybody else around him has to be able to do their job and do it well in order for the offense to be successful.
When given time in the pocket, Fitzpatrick can get the ball to the playmakers, and if the run game is going it benefits him that much more. The offensive line must get things figured out because not every team on the Texans’ schedule will have a mediocre quarter back that allows games to remain close. The team is off to a 3-1 despite the fact that the offensive line has struggled to hold their own in the first four games of the season. The defense’s ability to create turnovers in key moments has bailed the team out.
Against the Bills, the Texans had one of their worst games running the ball that they have had in a long while. It was curious how little Arian Foster was used in the running game, even after coming off a week in which he didn’t play. I assumed that if he felt he was good enough to suit up that O’Brien would still use him a good amount. Instead he only had 8 carries, one less than Alfred Blue, for 6 yards.
Foster was instead used more in the passing game, catching 7 passes for 55 yards. I like the method of using the short passes as a form a running game with the line struggling the way it is. Right now using the designed short passes to the backs is the best way to substitute for the ground game. Foster didn’t look fully like himself against the Bills even with the poor blocking, and you have to wonder if something other than his hamstring was ailing him.
Fitzpatrick didn’t have a great stat line but I thought he played a decent game. He had 2 interceptions but they weren’t the kind of interceptions that were just bad throws or inaccurate passes into double coverage. I don’t think that the interception that was thrown to DeAndre Hopkins should count as an interception because of the fact that Hopkins had the ball caught and in his hands, then it was stripped away. It would be more appropriate if the NFL viewed that as a strip fumble recovery because it was in the possession of Hopkins.
Furthermore, people are always clamoring for the ball to be thrown up to DeAndre Hopkins in one on one situations because more times than not he will come up with the ball. Down 10-0 in the game, that is what Fitzpatrick did but the Bills cornerback made a heads up play by stripping the ball out of Hopkins’ hands in mid-air. The second interception was another play that you can’t really do much about because a defensive lineman was able to get his hand on it. The bad interceptions are the ones where you asked yourself “What was he thinking?”.
The offensive line isn’t a tightly wounded machine as of right now which is hampering the running game and causing Fitzpatrick to work a little harder to make plays. So far Fitzpatrick has been impressive avoiding some sacks and scrambling, something that we aren’t accustom with watching the Texans.
The Texans have been able to get by due in large part to some timely turnovers and not very good quarterback play by the opposition. The Texans did a much better job versus the run against the Bills than they did the Giants but they were fortunate that E.J. Manuel can be a very inaccurate quarterback at times. Manuel had opportunities to hurt the Texans and extend numerous drives had he not sailed the ball over his receivers’ heads multiple times.
The Texans defense played well even though you would like to see them take a little more advantage of a quarterback like E.J. Manuel. All four levels of the defense played a better game and J.J. Watt was beating Manuel up all day as he was able to get a hit on Manuel 9 times. I didn’t have a problem with the 2 penalties he got for hitting Manuel low because there is a rule in place to stop that from happening.
If Manuel was not aware of Watt coming at him and had his feet planted in the ground, Watt could have possibly torn up Manuel’s knees.
As for J.J. Watt’s play, you can’t say much else other than that he is just an incredible football player. He terrorized Manuel all game long and added in an 80-yard pick six that all but cemented the win for the Texans.
I think the J.J. Watt MVP talk is way too premature because we are only four games into the season but I suppose with Watt being a defensive lineman you have to start planting the seeds early to help him get some momentum.
The rest of the defensive line played better than they didn’t a week prior but still aren’t opening things up enough for the linebackers. Brian Cushing is looking more like his old self every week and again lead the team in tackles with 9.
The secondary has been one of the surprising units this season and had another good game against the Bills. Of course they having been going up against top quarterbacks but they have been solid at wrapping up and tackling, and in coverage. Darryl Morris stepped up in place of A.J. Bouye and made an impact throughout the game. He was breaking up passes, making stops, and had the game clinching interception.
The easy part of the schedule is now over and the Texans need to have more things clicking as a team in order to keep pace with the Colts in the Division. The defense will face it’s toughest test when they go up against Tony Romo and his weapons.