Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Locher/AP/Shutterstock (13489125ak) Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, in Las Vegas Texans Raiders Football, Las Vegas, United States – 23 Oct 2022
These five things stood out to me most in today’s game.
Jordan Akins is TE 1: Akins has played the best ball of his career this season and has become a legitimate weapon in the passing game. He had multiple big plays today and led the team in receiving yards. The promise the Texans saw in him when they drafted him in the 3rd round in 2018 seems to finally be manifesting. Akins finished with three receptions for 68 yards.
Davis Mills looked like the player he was late last season: Mills showed poise in the pocket, made strong, accurate throws, and threw the ball down the field much more often than he had up to this point in the season. He looked like the player from last season’s final five games that gave the Texans hope they may have found a guy in the third round last year who can be a potential long-term quarterback. The Texans’ offensive line let him down in the second half, and so did Brandin Cooks, who had another brutal drop that killed a drive, but he fought hard and played his best game of the season. Mills finished 28 for 41 for 302 yards, 2 TD 1 INT. It was his first 300+ yard game of the season.
The run defense died in the second half: This was one of the matchups to watch coming into the game, as Raiders RB Josh Jacobs had gone over 140 yards rushing each of the last two games. The Texans’ run D held its own in the first half, limiting Jacobs to 45 yards on 10 carries. In the second half, they just came completely unglued. Jacobs’ first 10 carries in the second half resulted in 98 yards and 3 TDs. Jacobs ran through tackles, ran over defenders, and even carried Texans LB Christian Kirksey for at least 5 yards on one run. The Texans defensive failures in the second half turned the tide of this game from competitive to laughter. Jacobs ran for 143 yards on 20 carries, along with his 3 TDs. The Raiders ran for 164 yards overall.
The Texans’ pass rush was essentially non-existent: DE Jon Greenard was placed on IR after injuring his calf in practice, and the Texans missed him immensely. They managed only one sack, and three QB hits the entire game. Derek Carr had all day to throw and picked the Texans’ soft zone apart consistently. Raiders receivers were often wide open because of the time they had to run their routes. They must get more pressure, or the secondary will have no chance.
Brandin Cooks’ struggles may land him on another team by the deadline: Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier today that teams have been calling asking about Brandin Cooks’ availability. Last season the Texans had an opportunity to trade him, perhaps for a 2nd round pick, but elected not to, citing his role as the team’s top receiver and team leader. Cooks’ performance this season may be the worst of his career. His usually reliable hands have been dropping passes at an alarming rate, passes he usually handles with ease. The emergence of Nico Collins and Jordan Akins, plus the return of Chris Moore, may encourage the Texans to finally deal the typically reliable and QB-proof Cooks to a team in desperate need of a WR (Packers?), but his drops are possibly lowering the potential return.