After watching (and re-watching) the Texans’ week one matchup against the Washington Redskins, I came away with five random thoughts on the state of the team leading up to Week Two's bout against the Oakland Raiders.
About halfway through the fourth quarter of the Texans’ opener this past weekend, I realized something – Derek Newton’s name was not called one time. No holding calls, no false starts, no sacks surrendered, and not one hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick as a result of poor right tackle play. I can honestly say that, for the first time in Derek Newton’s career, he played a great game. Perhaps there was more to his 2013 knee issues that I thought. Perhaps new offensive line coach Paul Dunn found a magic formula to help Newton have success. Whatever forces are at play here, they are clearly working. To pitch a shutout against the likes of Ryan Kerrigan, who is truly one of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in all of football, instills a level of confidence in the Houston offensive line that I have not had in some time. Here’s hoping that Newton’s sudden turn around continues throughout the rest of the season.
Kareem Jackson is turning into one of the best young corners in the league right before our very eyes. Not counting two quick hitch routes to Pierre Garcon underneath zone coverage that totaled 11 yards, Jackson only surrendered one reception for 22 yards to Andre Roberts during the entire game. Against a receiving corps as dangerous as Washington’s, giving up just three catches for 33 yards is about as well as any corner can perform in the modern NFL. Rick Smith better start checking under his couch cushions now, because Kareem Jackson’s new contract is becoming more and more expensive with each passing day.
In case you had not noticed, Arian Foster is still really, really good. Despite rushing for 3.8 yards per carry, Foster made a lot out of nothing against a very good Redskins front seven. His cuts were sharp, his movements were fluid, and his vision was as superb as ever. Foster will not face many defensive fronts as fearsome as Washington’s this season, so his 100 yard performance was very encouraging. Against an Oakland Raiders squad that is still trying to find itself defensively, Foster could be in for one hell of a day. Set your fantasy lineups accordingly.
This will come as a shock to virtually no one, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer at quarterback. While not explicitly bad last weekend, there were several instances where I caught Fitzpatrick staring down receivers, failing to deliver an open hot read, and generally reverting back to his tendency to go for the big play at all costs. Fitzpatrick’s risky throws are not "calculated risks" like those of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or even Matt Ryan. They are simply just…risks. I can understand the mentality of trusting DeAndre Hopkins to make a play on the ball deep down field, but when it is 3rd and 7 and Arian Foster is sitting wide open underneath for an easy first down, I much prefer my quarterback to take that first down and live to chuck it deep another day. Just my two cents.
In an interesting turn of events, Brian Cushing was not on the field in dime packages on Sunday. That role went to Mike Mohamed, who tallied a total of 25 snaps to Cushing’s 42. Mohamed checks in at a shade under 240 pounds, so it makes sense that his lighter body might lend itself well to coverage situations, but replacing an undisputed leader on defense for nearly a third of the game is interesting to me. Cushing has been noticeably slower from sideline to sideline while still recovering from his second major knee injury in two seasons, so perhaps the team is using Mohamed as a stop gap in obvious passing situations while Cushing gets back up to speed. In any case, Cushing’s snap counts and usage are things to monitor as the season progresses.
Got any random Texans-related thoughts on this fine Friday, BRB? Sound off below.
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