Three Straight Losses: Five observations from the Texans’ 29-17 loss to the Eagles

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock (13607549x) Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (26) carries against Houston Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) in the first half of an NFL football game in Houston Eagles Texans Football, Houston, United States – 03 Nov 2022

Three Straight Losses: Five observations from the Texans’ 29-17 loss to the Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles’ undefeated season marched on through Houston without much issue, but the Texans showed some signs of improvement in the loss.

Texans looked crisp offensively in the first half: The initial scripted portion of the Texans’ offensive gameplan worked like a charm, and Davis Mills was sharp early. Pep Hamilton’s offense clearly came out focused and playing inspired in the early going, a major improvement from last week against Tennessee. There were huge question marks about how much production could realistically be expected from this passing game without Brandin Cooks or Nico Collins, but Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore stepped into their place and didn’t skip a beat. Mills continued his strong play throughout the first half, which he finished with two touchdown passes compared to only one incompletion. If the defense is going to continue to get gashed, Houston will need the offense to step up like this more consistently to be competitive. 

Dameon Pierce was an absolute steal in the fourth round of the NFL Draft: Pierce has been a bellcow for the Texans more often than not, and he produced at a high level again tonight for Houston. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry in the first half for 88 total yards (75 yards after contact), more than twice as many as he finished the entire game with last week against Tennessee. His big night on the ground continued in the second half, as he crossed the 100-yard mark for only the second time in his young career. Pierce finished the night with 139 yards on 27 carries, both career highs. The Texans are a very young team with a ton of rebuilding to do in the coming years, but they seem to have found a running back worthy of leading them into the future. 

The Texans’ offensive line took a step forward: More often than not, the Texans’ offensive line was able to move the line of scrimmage effectively enough to let Dameon Pierce work his magic. Pierce finished Week 8’s loss with just 35 yards on the ground, an average of 2.3 yards per carry – this week, those numbers improved to 139 and an average of 5.1. Davis Mills was sacked another three times, two of which came in the final minutes as the Texans tried to make a final push – but it felt like things could have gone a lot more poorly against Philadelphia’s powerful front seven. The Houston offense was a few better decisions from Davis Mills away from having a legitimate chance to win the game, gaining more than five yards per play and finishing with 303 in total.

The Texans produced a decent pass rush all night: Houston’s defensive front may not have figured a whole lot out against the run game, but they found a way to consistently put pressure on Jalen Hurts. Hurts was sacked four times for only the second time all season, and was hurried on a number of other throws. The Texans’ front also hemmed him in effectively in the run game for the most part, holding him to 25 yards on 7 carries. Unfortunately, things seemed to unravel every time Hurts either handed it off or managed to get a throw off.
The defense continues to struggle as a whole: After allowing a ridiculous 314 yards rushing to the Titans in Week 8, Houston wasn’t much more successful at trying to stop Philadelphia. Miles Sanders passed the 90-yard mark on the ground, only his third time crossing that threshold all season. Jalen Hurts did whatever he wanted all night, passing for two touchdowns without an interception in the win. The Texans’ defensive line actually put a decent amount pressure on him, sacking him four times – but when he got a throw off, it was usually an easy completion. Dallas Goedert had 100 yards receiving and a touchdown, while Hurts completed 21 of 27 passes. The Eagles finished with 362 yards on the night, averaging six per play.

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