Mandatory Credit: Photo by Eric Christian Smith/AP/Shutterstock (13631511eu) Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) is upended on a run against the Washington Commanders during the second half of an NFL football game, in Houston Commanders Texans Football, Houston, United States – 20 Nov 2022
These five things stood out to me the most in the Houston Texans Week 11 23-10 loss to the Washington Commanders.
Kenyon Green is a huge liability right now: I accept that he is a rookie, and there is a learning curve. I get he is doing his best to play through a shoulder injury. I acknowledge that he is a penalty machine right now, and I also accept that he is getting worked right now. Green missed multiple blocks at the snap and had his man blow past him other times for plays that resulted in sacks, quarterback hits, and tackles for loss. It wasn’t that the whole line was bad in this game; it was just Green who was putrid. He stuck out like a sore thumb for poor play. The only logic for continuing to play him is that the team is trying to get Mills and Pierce killed. There are far too many times when his man is in the backfield before the running back has the handoff or Mills has finished his drop. Having him learn from the sideline certainly won’t hurt him, will likely help him, and can only help the QB and RB.
Davis Mills continues to make abhorrent decisions: His second pass of the game was a horrifically telegraphed pick six that had his team down 7-0 in a blink. After talking about needing to start fast and score points early, Mills was 6-for-9 for 22 yards in the first half and -1 net yards passing. The passing game is completely impotent, and Mills’ biggest passes come on 5-yard throws that his receivers then make someone miss and get a ton of YAC. Today those were few and far between as Mills struggled with accuracy again. Lovie Smith cannot continue to stand on his soapbox and say Mills gives the team the best chance to succeed because he clearly does not. If now isn’t the time for Kyle Allen, then the Texans aren’t trying to win. It’s that simple. Garbage time yards and points (54 yards passing on a late TD drive) don’t count.
Desmond King played very well, filling in for Derek Stingley Jr.: King actually had double duty, covering Commanders top WR Terry McLaurin and returning punts. McLaurin had a relatively nondescript day, and King also made some nice plays in the run game, including a terrific tackle on a reverse that saw him go completely across the field and make a great tackle in the open field, resulting in a very short gain on the play. The play would have gone for big yardage if he did not make that tackle. McLaurin, who had eight receptions for 128 yards last week versus Philadelphia, was held to only four catches for 55 yards.
The Texans’ run game is far too predictable: Houston runs the ball between the tackles too much. They don’t try to disguise it. They line up in the I-formation and seemingly always run from that formation. There is no motion, no misdirection. They basically ask Pierce to break two tackles to gain any yards. Defensive players are too fast and too athletic to telegraph the play and think that those plays can be consistently successful. Teams know what the Texans will do, and since the passing game is so inept, they aren’t afraid to stack the box to stop the run and dare Mills to throw. They need more creativity and more ways to help Pierce not see defenders 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage so often.
The Texans’ run defense held up pretty well: They didn’t give up any huge chunk plays. They only allowed three runs of over 10 yards and none over 14 until there were under three minutes to go in a game that was already decided. They successfully defended a reverse and an end around plays that this season has given them major trouble. The three gains they allowed of 10+ yards on were all on misdirection, usually the result of not maintaining gap integrity (a defender who left his gap and over-pursued the play too early, allowing a cutback). They held the Commanders to just 3.8 yards per carry, a very strong effort for this defense this season. If the offense wasn’t so inept, this was a very winnable game for Houston.