Not the return we were hoping for, but the return we deserved. In his first game back from a severe hamstring strain, veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor was swarmed by an aggressive and relentless Miami Dolphins pass rush. A game featuring two 1-7 team exemplified what a game between two 1-7 teams would look like; ineffective, sloppy, and humorous. The Texans offense were a travesty in protecting the football. Most noticeably, Taylor threw three interceptions, all of which were the result of pressure and poor decision making.
Today, we are going to analyze the three interceptions and the circumstances which caused them. It’s unfortunate enough to lose at such a consistent clip, but to learn as a fanbase what is good football vs. what’s bad will only benefit ourselves when we return to good, quality, and wholesome winning.
INTERCEPTION 1: 3rd & 1 at the Dolphins 11.
Red Zone offense has been a bane of this team for the entire season. The Houston Texans rank 28th in the league in Red Zone Scoring Percentage for touchdowns. That number may be inflated by the lack of trips to the red zone itself...
The Dolphins are in a press Cover One package featuring a single-high safety and a blitzing safety off of the edge who comes completely free of the line of scrimmage. The clip barely does justice to show that Taylor was trying to signal a fade route to Brandin Cooks right before the clock ran out. Because of this, he doesn't recognize the change in defensive formation to alert Charlie Heck on the right side of the line.
Taylor knows that if he steps up in the pocket to evade the pass rush, his receiver Brandin Cooks will have run out of real estate the back of the end zone. He’s hoping to put enough touch on this ball to fit it in between the trailing corner and sprinting safety. When his arm gets hit and he isn’t able to properly plant his foot, the ball sails on him, allowing the rookie safety to cover enough ground and make the interception.
Phillip Lindsay’s block here also leaves a lot to be desired. It’s actually not entirely on him as the quarterback is in charge of directing the coverage, but man if you can’t see this guy earlier in the process there’s a lot not working for you as an running back.
Taylor’s footwork here is a three-step drop with a bit of a hitch that causes this ball to not come out on time. This delay combined with the fact that there’s a free rusher in his face forces him to loft this ball higher than he wanted. The added elevation gives the safety enough time to work around the ball and complete the interception.
INTERCEPTION 2: 2nd & 18 from the Texans 18.
Taylor was under duress the entire game. The Texans with multiple starting players out were ill-equipped to protect even the most fleet of feet quarterbacks in the league. Taylor was sacked the previous play for the third time in the half, It’s understandable that he wanted to escape the pocket as quickly as possible. What isn’t understandable is how he gets rid of the ball at the end of this play.
This pass should have been a souvenir to a fan in the 35th row of the Hard Rock Stadium. Instead, it will be a souvenir to #55 and a lasting edition to ESPN’s NOT Top 10. It’s logical for Taylor toss the ball away and avoid the loss of yards, but there’s got to be a sense of reality here to fling this ball where no player can catch it. Taylor won’t make this mistake again, that can be assured.
INTERCEPTION 3: 3rd & 10 from the Texans 35
The Texans are in the process of squandering a fresh set of down to begin the second half and climb back in this game. After two poorly executed plays to veteran running backs, the Texans offense is facing a long third down and an intimidating defensive formation. The Dolphins are showing a Bear front, filling each gap of the defense and disguising their mid field zone coverage. The corners are all playing deep in an off-man coverage without a safety to help.
The broadcast doesn’t do justice to illustrate the Dolphins defensive scheme. It’s a complex layer of pass rushers and zone defenders and is built to disguise it’s true form until after the play develops. Tyrod Taylor is looking to fit this ball to Amendola over the middle against tight coverage when the ball is tipped and flutters in the air for a pick.
When the two linebackers peel off the line to fall into zone, it leaves the edge rusher wide open to once again attack Taylor. Lineman are taught to block inside-out, so it’s feasible that this would occur, but they have to be able to check to other plays when this defensive formation arises.
All three picks are honestly easily fixable. Better defensive recognition, time together as an offensive line, and effective coaching can quickly stymie these direct pass rush woes from occurring. That may seem illegitimate to say considering the past half-decade of poor offensive line play, but it’s true. Taylor is a reflection of the team around him. When others are performing, he mutually elevates their skills, but when there’s fundamental problems occurring he’s not the man to patch the work together. Hopefully a healthy Tyrod will help this team and this team can help Tyrod.