When the team loses, it can seem impossible to look on the bright side of things, but as Houston Texans fans we have to find some positives in this season. Therefore, Thursdays are dedicated to finding the best PFF performers from the previous week. Of course, we will also highlight a couple of negative performances as well just to keep us honest.
When we dial back the snark, sarcasm, and critical analysis we have to admit that some good things are going on with this team. When you lose consecutive games you might have dig a little deeper to find them, but they are there. So, we start this week with the top five performers according to PFF.
Brandin Cooks 82.4, Dameon Pierce 76.8, Steven Nelson 75.3, Christian Kirksey 74.3, Davis Mills 74.1
Okay, this is the second week in a row we’ve seen Mills on this list. We will get to him later, but in particular when you see two defenders on this list it makes you scratch your head. A wise man once said that statistics are like a lamp post. You can use it for illumination or you can use it to lean on. We don’t know what goes into PFF’s numbers, so we have to look at these numbers with some healthy skepticism. Clearly, the play of Cooks and Pierce seems to check out. The others maybe not so much.
Offensive Riser: Brandin Cooks
Cooks went from a 90th rank amongst wide receivers to 60th. He now has 20 catches on the season for 215 yards and one touchdown. If we extrapolate those numbers over a full season that would be 85 catches for over 900 yards and four touchdowns. Again, that doesn’t make him a Pro Bowler, but he also doesn’t have the best of quarterbacks or a full complement of receivers.
Offensive Faller: Kenyon Green
Perhaps no play encapsulates his performance like the last offensive play of the game. He got beat, gave up the sack and committed two penalties in the process. Coming into the game he had given up one pressure in the first three games. He surrendered a few on Sunday. The body of work is still good overall even though he went from 29th to 52nd for the season. Yet, rookies will learn on the fly. They will discover that everyone they are facing is capable of beating them on any given play. That likely didn’t happen at Texas A&M.
Defensive Riser: Steven Nelson
Nelson went from the 60th ranked corner to the 44th ranked corner after Sunday. That makes him virtually average amongst qualified corners. With apologies to Jonathan Joseph, you usually don’t find special corners in free agency. You can find average ones and given where the Texans secondary was a year ago, average is pretty good. While he may not have deserved a top five finish, he certainly has been solid overall.
Defensive Faller: Kurt Hinish
Hinish goes from 75th to 91st amongst defensive tackles. We have to grade on a curve. It is remarkable for an undrafted rookie to be a rotational player at any position. There are close to 130 defensive tackles that qualify as regular players, so being 90th is not the worst thing in the world. This just might be more indicative of the position at large. Roy Lopez is the only that registers as above average. He was a late round pick last season, so Nick Caserio draftees are arguably the strength of this team.
More on Mills
According to PFF, Mills is the 13th best starting quarterback with a 70.0 grade. He reached 7.0 yards per attempt for the second week in a row on Sunday. He looked good for a couple of drives in the second half as he bounced back from an early interception to throw two consecutive impressive touchdown passes. So, I suppose if we squint hard enough and lop off a few plays from our memory then we can see some positives. So, let’s look at his rankings in just about every number that matters.
Yards: 908 (19th)
Completion %: 62% (22nd)
TD: 5 (18th)
INT: 4 (23rd)
YPA: 6.4 (26th)
Rating: 80.4 (25th)
ESPN QBR: 28.4 (28th)
So, when you look at these numbers how do you get to 13th? Maybe we are taking talent around him into account. I know they have numbers where they chart balls that should be picked off but aren’t. Admittedly, we don’t know everything that goes into the secret sauce, but it tastes like Thousand Island to me. When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has webbed feet like a duck then it is probably a duck.