Run Over: 5 Observations from Texans’ 24-16 loss to Giants

Mandatory Credit: Photo by John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock (13621798aq) New York Giants linebacker Jihad Ward (55) tackles Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) during the first quarter of an NFL football game, in East Rutherford, N.J Texans Giants Football, East Rutherford, United States – 13 Nov 2022

Run Over: 5 Observations from Texans’ 24-16 loss to Giants

These are the five biggest things that stood out in the Houston Texans Week 10 loss to the New York Giants:

More than ever, Davis Mills is not the guy: Mills is incredibly inconsistent, play to play. He missed multiple open throws with passes being too low. He is far too fast to check down in the face of pressure. He made a terrible throw that resulted in an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter immediately after a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks was nullified by a holding call on Kenyon Green. You can’t be a leader if you can’t lead with your play on the field, nor if you don’t have the mental fortitude not to make a bad decision out of haste following a penalty. When the Texans needed Mills most to step up and make plays, he threw a game-breaking pick that left the team with nothing on back-to-back trips inside the red zone.

Mills also had a play in the second quarter where he was in the middle of being tackled and tried to flip the ball to Dameon Pierce. The ball went about seven feet. There were defenders all around. Fortunately, Pierce was able to recover the ball before the officials generously ruled that play an incomplete pass. It was an incredibly stupid play, and there needs to be accountability for stupidity. Of course, there was none.

While Mills padded his stats in garbage time, the crushing turnover and brutal inconsistency are the real defining characteristics. At this point, there is no reason not to play Kyle Allen other than tanking.

The Texans’ offensive line was manhandled yet again: Much as they were against the Titans, Houston’s offensive line was mauled by the Giants all day. Dexter Lawrence dominated whoever he matched up with. The Texans’ first three drives resulted in negative yards because the line could not block for Pierce or protect Mills. Mills frequently dumped the ball off to short receivers in the face of pressure, resulting in punts. Kenyon Green was once again overwhelmed in pass protection and had a killer penalty that negated a touchdown. That score would have cut the deficit to four with over nine minutes remaining. They allowed four sacks and 12 QB hits, and five tackles for loss. The line’s failures have made it very difficult for the offense to get going and to be consistent.

Jordan Akins and Dameon Pierce need to be bigger parts of the passing game: Both of these guys are matchup nightmares for linebackers and are not nearly utilized enough in the passing game on a regular basis. Akins had multiple big plays in the game, including a 46-yard catch and run. Pierce had a 16-yard catch late in the fourth quarter on only his second target and a 12-yard catch on the subsequent drive. For all the short passes the Texans throw, getting them to playmakers who they know will have big mismatches seems like a no-brainer. Akins finished with three receptions on three targets for 72 yards. Pierce has two catches on three targets for 28 yards.

The defensive line continues to get pushed around when opponents run the football: Saquon Barkley had another big game on the ground and the Giants for big-time yards, allowing them to control the pace of most of the game. The defensive line did get some pressure in the passing game, but being behind wire-to-wire, the Giants didn’t need to rely on the pass game. The defense could not get consistent stops in the run game, even though the Giants ran the ball more than twice as often as they threw it. They got pushed around in the middle of the field and failed to set the edge far too often. Offensive linemen are able to get to second-level blocks way too often. Barkley ran for 152 of the Giants’ 191 yards on the ground.

Brandin Cooks isn’t going to dog it. Any concerns that Brandin Cooks would be checked out or not play at his best were allayed today. Cooks gave 100% effort and even had what would have been a touchdown in the fourth quarter were it not negated by a holding penalty. He didn’t have great numbers as Mills misfired to him several times, but he did have a big 25-yard catch that set up Texans in the red zone. He doesn’t deserve to be a team captain anymore (and he isn’t), but he is a respected leader on the team by his teammates and his performance today backed up his words that he would have their backs on the field. Cooks finished with four receptions on seven targets for 37 yards and a five-yard rush. The low yardage total was far more the quarterback’s fault than Cooks’.

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