It’s rare for this fan base to fancy an underperforming player such as Keke Coutee, but akin to many of the wide receivers who roll through Houston, there’s a level of mysticism and fantasy surrounding him. Whether it be the 11-catch games against the Colts or the repeated hamstring injuries, there’s a serious love/hate relationship with the Houston Texans wideout.
Coutee has been on the Texans’ hot seat after several miscues against the Colts in Week Seven. Poor route running and impressive play by Kenny Stills has put Coutee out of the starting lineup. He’s even been slighted for players such as DeAndre Carter and Stephen Mitchell Jr., which means he hasn’t even seen the field in a couple of weeks. Though Coutee has admitted that he has “to focus on the details”, the Texans have been hesitant to give him a chance recently.
And who can blame them? Rumors about poor practices are a sign of mutiny in Bill O’Brien’s eyes. Nothing but pure heart and passion can be displayed in practice under this regime, and if Coutee doesn’t want to contribute on special teams, he is good as gone. O’Brien is probably asking Coutee, “If Mitchell and Carter are playing special teams, why can't you?”.
We've seen this before with other players like: D’Onta Foreman, D.J. Swearinger, and Jaelen Strong. The combination of poor practices and injuries doesn't sit well with this team, and honestly they shouldn't. However, with a young and talented player such as Coutee, the Texans ought to give him another chance under the lights in a big game to prove he belongs on the roster.
That moment should come this week against the Ravens. After two weeks of preparation, Coutee should be well-versed in the offensive scheme. Against an uber-talented Ravens defense, Deshaun Watson will need all the help he can get picking apart the opposition. If you watched the Ravens’ game against the Patriots, you witnessed a defense that was amorphous. They moved, shifted, and pivoted before the play like a bunch of boys in 7th grade math class. A defense like this can be exploited by a player who can find the openings in their zone from all the movement. This is exactly Coutee’s skill set.
His quick, shifty style of play can keep Baltimore’s entire defense from freely roaming the field and force them to play the Texans straight up. Though Texans’ tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins have been filling the role of safety valve and zone scheme gashers in his absence, Coutee is more of a fit for this game since the Ravens have several elite tight end defenders such as Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark.
Have we already forgotten what Coutee did to the Colts in the playoff game last year? If you can't recall, here’s a chart presented by our friends at Next Gen Stats to break it down.
Coutee dashed and whirled his way around the Indianapolis defense like those fruit flies still in my room because I left grapes out ONE TIME. This type of attack would be perfect against Baltimore.
This is one of those games where the underdog needs an unexpected hero to rise up and take over the game. With DeAndre Hopkins and (hopefully) Will Fuller receiving all of the attention, Coutee should shine. All he needs to do is be at the right place at the right time and stick his hands out like Smalls from “The Sandlot” and let Watson be Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and put the ball right in his mitts.
It’s undeniable that the Texans’ offense has been cleaner the past two weeks during the absence of Coutee. But the Ravens have seen the dink-and-dunk offense the Texans have put on the past four weeks and won’t be as surprised by the mini triple-option between Watson, Darren Fells, and Carlos Hyde. The Texans desperately need another wrinkle to the offense that the Ravens won't be as prepared for. And that spark should come from Coutee on Sunday.