We’re back in the not-Texas Longhorns football program way. Not in the 90s throwback to everything kind of way. Not even in the mother’s cooking after being gone for two years way.
The Texans Sack Tracker is back in the forgotten dishes from three days ago and now that there are flies on them and you really don't want to wash them but your going to have to because it’s about time sort of way. After a two week glorious hiatus of clean pockets, clean jerseys, and clean sack sheets, we have three sacks to diagnose.
Sack #17: Friendly Fire Gives Leonard a Free Shot
There are a lot of reasons for sacks. Missed assignments, poor technique, bad communication, a superior pass rush, the QB holding the ball for too long, or even just great coverage down field. The list could go on forever. A tight end stepping on the offensive tackle’s feet while he goes out for a route is something I never thought that would be on this list.
On the right side of the offensive line, the tight end #87 Darren Fells steps on tackle #63 Roderick Johnson’s foot. Are you sure this isn't the 2005 Texans under Dom Capers where we looked like a minor league team? Though this may have been physically painful for Johnson, it was equally hilarious to watch on repeat while I wrote this article. Momma always said you can either choose to laugh or you can choose to cry. In this instance, you’ve got to laugh.
With Watson squarely in the pocket, there was nowhere for him to escape that would have saved him from a sack. Even with his elusiveness, an attempt to roll out of the back of the pocket would have most likely ended up in a sack further in the backfield.
Even without TE Darren Fells stepping on Johnson, OLB Darius Leonard has such a good jump on the snap it wouldn't be surprising if this play still ended up in a sack. Johnson had been handling Leonard up to this point, so it’s hard to say whether or not this would have been a sack, though. Who knows if Johnson would have been able to cover, push Leonard out of the play, and then Deshaun Watson hits DeAndre Hopkins down the field for a first down?
With all this in mind, we’ll have to give this to Fells for his second sack of the season.
Sack #18: The Infamous Ref Sack
There’s a lot to say about this play and the fact that it was even called a sack in the first place.
If you drew up the Colts’ defense with simple Xs and Os knowing it’s third and four from their own four yard line, you would probably say this is a fairly foolish defensive look.
So let’s do just that...
To tell you that the Texans decided to pass on this play should make you question Watson’s ability to change the play at the line of scrimmage. Unless the safety comes down to make a miraculous play, a run up the middle would be a guaranteed success.
Listen, I don’t like this sack any more than you do, and it’s a shame when the refs directly interfere with the game. However, under the current circumstance of that play where one of the league’s future stars is under duress and the ref can potentially save the QB from taking an unnecessary hit, it is rightfully within his power to do so. That was my thought process before I re-watched the game and saw the play from this particular angle. After watching, consider when the ref decided to call the play dead.
This call flat out comes too late. If the ref was going to step in, he should have done so when Colts DE Justin Houston initially had his arms wrapped around Watson’s leg. NOT after Watson gets crushed. This is not a human error. This is a flaw in the NFL’s refereeing of the sport. The subjectivity of this call is irrefutable.
These are the responsibilities of the ref who called the sack on Watson. You can find this information and more on the NFL’s official Operations site.
A judge who is behind the play with no sight of a player’s knee has zero capability to make a call like this. The other referees on the field called this a touchdown as Watson’s desperate pass landed in the hands of Hopkins. The only reason why this was overturned is that the ref who initially called the sack is, as you can see in the screenshot, the “leader of the officiating crew”.
It’s not reasonable to say that this play could have conceivably lost us the game. The Texans’ defense flat out couldn’t stop the Colts’ offense as they went 75 yards down the field to score a TD directly after the Texans kicked a field goal.
As frustrating of an outcome as this is, none of this would be an issue if Roderick Johnson didn’t get tossed to the ground by DE Jabaal Sheard like a baby throwing a pacifier.
Sack #19: Texans Can’t Pick Up Colts Blitz
Here, the Colts draw up a complex and nasty blitz for the Texans on third and seven from Houston’s own four yard line. A corner and a safety blitz combined with a double linebacker release into zone coverage completely bewilder the Texans’ blocking scheme.
The Texans have seven players blocking for Watson, yet no one seems to pick up safety Khari Willis screaming down the left side of the line. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil blocks down instead of stepping out to block the safety.
Tunsil is at fault twice on this play. First for not recognizing the outside blitz and shifting to protect Watson from an unblocked defender. And second for not holding his block on the player who ultimately sacks Watson.
You also have to give Watson some of the credit - and not in the good sense of the term. Watson has to organize his pass blockers to absorb any and all pressure. Watson needs to direct RB Duke Johnson to block the edge while the linemen clean up the mess on the inside together.
Originally 100% of this sack was awarded to Tunsil for how poor he did on this play, but after re-watching it and seeing the lack of organization on Watson’s part, this will be a 50/50 split between the QB and the LT.
Tough loss against the Colts. Hopefully the Texans can regain their sackless streak against the QB-friendly Raiders. Still looking for a name of the player who has the most sacks...right now I’ve got “The Sack-rificial Lamm” named after former Texan Kendall Lamm.
Greg Mancz: 3
Laremy Tunsil: 2.5
Deshaun Watson: 2.5
Darren Fells: 2
Roderick Johnson: 2
Seantrel Henderson: 2
Zach Fulton: 1
Senio Kelemete: 1
Tytus Howard: 1
Carlos Hyde: 1
Max Scharping: 0.5
Nick Martin: 0.5