Five observations from the Texans’ Week 1 tie vs. Colts

Five observations from the Texans’ Week 1 tie vs. Colts

It was an inconsistent opening week of the NFL season for the Texans, but fans certainly have reasons to be optimistic about their team right now.

Five observations from Week 1:

  1. The Texans run defense is much improved: It was evident very quickly that Jonathan Taylor was not going to have his way with the Texans defense the way he did last season. Taylor ran for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns vs Houston last season, and was generally unstoppable. The Colts are a very physical team at the line of scrimmage and love to pound the ball. Taylor was able to break one run for 17 yards but otherwise found himself with little room. The Texans also got a huge run stop on 4th and goal from the 2 in the 2nd Quarter that was a big momentum changer. They gave up some chunk runs late in the game in a situation where they appeared to be gassed, as the Texans offense turned the ball over at their 20 yard line following a long Colts drive, and then were back on the field again very quickly as the Texans offense managed only 4 plays before punting on their next drive. That really had more to do with critical offensive failures putting the Texans defense in untenable situations.

2. The Texans will not be a run first offense: OC Pep Hamilton pushed back on the idea the Texans were a run first team when he met the media Thursday. The Texans opened the game throwing, and 4 of their first 6 plays were passes. They got a big 33 yard DPI call on a deep ball thrown by Mills to set up a touchdown in the 2nd Quarter. They opened the second half with a 42 yard completion to Brandin Cooks on a flea flicker. Overall the offense was fairly balanced, with the Texans rushing 28 times and Davis Mills making 40 dropbacks.

3. The offensive line looks to be improved: The pass protection especially stood out early. Mills primarily had a clean pocket, and was only hit one time the entire first half. The run blocking still needs work, but it was much better than the last two years. The Colts are a solid run defense, and there wasn’t a lot of room to work, but enough to be respectable in the run game even though Rex Burkhead was getting the majority of carries in the first half. Late in the fourth quarter and in overtime, the line had some breakdowns, including an unblocked rusher that lead to sack and fumble and allowing 2 sacks and taking a penalty on first drive of overtime. There’s room for improvement, but also improvement that was shown.

4. Rex Burkhead is still the RB the Texans trust the most: Even though Dameon Pierce was listed as the starter, Burkhead saw more carries and more reps. Pierce is a fierce runner, but the Texans elected to go to Burkhead in most passing situations and for several drives as the primary back. Burkhead not only outcarried Pierce 14-11, but was targeted 8 times in the passing game (5 receptions for 30 yards), as opposed to only one target for Pierce. This is going to be a legitimate two headed attack for the time being, and Burkhead will be getting the long share.

5. OJ Howard is going to be an impact player for the Texans: Despite not having much practice time with his new team and having limited snaps, Howard had a pair of touchdown receptions. His presence on the field gives Houston a legitimate pass catching weapon at the tight end position, especially in the red zone.

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