Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/Shutterstock (13452308y) Houston Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) intercepts a pass intended for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) during the second half of an NFL football game in Jacksonville, Fla Texans Jaguars Football, Jacksonville, United States – 09 Oct 2022
These are the things that stood out to me the most during the Houston Texans Week 5 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
Davis Mills is the problem: This was the year Mills was supposed to show progress from his strong second half last season, not regress from the first half of last season. The inconsistency is maddening. The missed short throws over the middle are inexcusable. It is imperative that the receivers get yards after the catch because Mills throws so many dump downs and very short passes, which are often inaccurate. Even his short throws are a roll of the dice on whether or not it will be low or high. He misses wide-open receivers on potential big gains. I’m not talking NFL open; I’m talking college open and sometimes high school open. WIDE OPEN. The failures of Mills and of the Texans staff to develop him are on full display. There is no hiding this. Mills completed 16 of 24 passes for an anemic 140 yards.
The defense played their best game of the season: There really isn’t anything else you could ask from the defense Sunday. They had (not one, not two, but) three-fourth down stops. Derek Stingley Jr. got his first career interception and got it in the end zone to thwart another Jaguars drive when they were knocking on the door. Desmond King intercepted a Lawrence Hail Mary at the end of the game. Yes, they gave up a lot of yards (422), but they held on third down very well, limiting the Jaguars to 6 of 14 on third-down conversions. This kind of defensive performance leads to wins.
Nico Collins can ball: If the Texans had even adequate quarterback play, we would be talking about Nico Collins as a breakout player this year. His pure athleticism, ability to elevate, use his body to shield the ball from defenders, and win contested catches are all excellent. He is a future WR1. He made some tremendous catches in this game. Collins had 4 catches for 65 yards on the day, two for first downs, and one with a defender hanging all over him.
Pep Hamilton had his best usage split of Dameon Pierce and Rex Burkhead in this game: Hamilton admitted earlier this week they were too predictable in their play calls depending on which running back was in the game. Entering the contest, Burkhead had three carries in the Texans’ last three games. It became apparent that Burkhead in the game meant pass. Pierce continues to show that he is Marshawn Lynch 2.0, and Burkhead had a handful of carries that are needed to keep the defense honest, so they can’t just key on the pass when he is in the game. Burkhead had a key first-down run as well. Pierce finished with 26 carries for 99 yards, a rushing touchdown, and three receptions. Burkhead had 3 carries for 15 yards and a pair of catches.
The Texans’ offensive line held up against a very blitz-heavy team: The line has had its struggles this season against the blitz, but overall protected their quarterback well from Jaguars pass rushers today. The line only allowed one sack and five quarterback hits. The run blocking also held up well, only allowing four tackles for loss (two of which were during a very late Texans drive where they were clearly burning clock after their third, fourth down stop). It was their best performance of the season and, hopefully, one they can build on.