We continue out tradition of taking the best and worst of the Houston Texans in week 7 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The 38-20 final was not indicative of how close the game was through the first three quarters are part of the fourth quarter. The Raiders pulled away at the end with a relentless running attack and Davis Mills’ first pick six of the season at the end.
It can be hard to find roses in defeat, but one of the things I’ve learned is that there is always a silver lining no matter how dark the cloud. The Texans are rebuilding, retooling, or simply emerging depending on how you want to phrase it. They are looking for cornerstone players and they may have found a few along the way.
The PFF Top Five
Admittedly, there are some long-term pieces here and some short-term pieces. Then, there is Ogunbarale. We aren’t sure what bucket to put him in, but his position here is both refreshing and infuriating at the same time. He demonstrates the folly of leaning on Rex Burkhead for anything. He is capable of taking a few carries and he clearly showed he can catch the ball out of the backfield. I don’t know if he is a long-term answer, but we know Burkhead is not.
Pierce and Collins are clearly part of the future and they need to be on the field as often as possible. This is not only because they are young, but because they have clearly shown they are better than their counterparts. Rebuilding doesn’t have to mean you necessarily lose. It just means you focus on younger players. There might be growing pains, but they also have more potential than their veteran counterparts.
Most Improved: Offense—Phillip Dorsett
I’m trying to spread the love here. Technically, he is tied with Ogunbarale for the most spots moved up. Both improved their rankings by 37 slots even though they technically haven’t taken enough snaps to qualify as regulars. Dorsett went from 50.9 overall to 61.7 overall in one week. He clearly should be the third receiver on the field and guys like Chris Moore (even though he also had a touchdown) should be reserves from here on out. Dorsett’s touchdown was clearly the highlight of the game and he is the only guy that has the kind of speed that can take the top off of the defense.
Biggest Fall: Offense—Kenyon Green
This is a bit of misnomer. The offense did fairly well overall, so Green’s dip from 52.7 to 48.7 qualifies as the biggest fall. Again, this kind of depends on your point of view and whether you trust PFF as a source. What it does show is where the Texans should be and why. People have accused us here of being in favor of tanking. What we are is in favor of seeing young, talented guys play and living with the results either way. If you win, but win with old guys that won’t be here next year then what are you really accomplishing? Green is a good, young guard that will only get better with more experience.
Most Improved: Defense—Blake Cashman
At least the Kamu Grugier-Hill era appears to be over. Cashman came over from the Jets as a depth piece more than anything. His 84.8 grade is highest on the team at any position. I’m guessing he wouldn’t be there if he were playing every down, but he has played enough where it isn’t exactly a fluke either. Maybe the coaches have figured out where he can be effective. Will he be here beyond this season? That’s part of the problem of playing middling veterans.
Biggest Fall: Defense—Christian Harris
Technically, it wasn’t a fall. The Raiders game was his first action of the year and that includes the preseason. So, his 27.2 rating makes some sense in that light. Hopefully, he will join the ranks of the most improved soon enough. This team will not be consistently better until guys like Jalen Pitre, Derek Stingley, and Christian Harris are playing consistently and playing well.
The Mills Report
Obviously, the question at quarterback will be the most important question from here through the end of the season. Some of my colleagues think he is a waste of time. I’m not going to go that far. PFF has him sitting firmly as the 14th best quarterback with a 70.9 grade. That’s slightly better than where he was last week, but not really by much. This is the point of the year where guys are who they are and it would take a ton to change that one way or another.