The Houston Texans lost another close one on Sunday to the Chicago Bears, but as we have said in the early going, there are always positives even in the most demoralizing of defeats. We have been tracking PFF scores throughout the season and we will insert a new feature this week. Don’t worry, we’ll back track to the first two weeks so you don’t miss a beat. PFF not only ranks every player at their position, but they track the top five performers week to week.
Week One: Jerry Hughes 93.6, Laremy Tunsil 82.4, Jonathan Owens 71.0, Tytus Howard 69.1, Chris Moore 68.3
Week Two: Nico Collins 72.8, Laremy Tunsil 72.8, Tytus Howard 72.1, Dameon Pierce 69.8, Kurt Hinish 69.6
Week Three: Laremy Tunsil 79.1, Desmond King 75.9, Kenyon Green 72.1, Davis Mills 71.4, A.J. Cann 70.6
All numbers have a context. They also have their limitations. When you see Mills rated amongst the best five Texans it makes you wonder what in the hell the folks at PFF were watching. They have their own methods and formulas for these things and they are proprietary in nature. So, we have two general rules for these things. First, we always compare these numbers to other numbers to determine if they make sense. Secondly, we track these things week to week. If we see a particular player on top each week (Tunsil) then it means they are probably an elite performer.
Biggest Offensive Riser: Kenyon Green
Green went from ranked 50th after week two to ranked 29th amongst starting guards. That means he almost ranks in the top third of starting guards. It is difficult to rate free agent acquisitions after just three games, but A.J. Cann has been a net positive as well so far (ranked 19th). In fact, center is the only position where the Texans don’t have a player in the top half of his position. It would be hard to say the line has been elite given the overall performance of the offense, but it would also be fair to say they are probably not the primary problem.
Biggest Offensive Faller: Brandin Cooks
Cooks went from 69th to 90th between week two and three. He also tumbled 33 slots between week one and week two. He has 13 catches for 158 yards in the first three games, but he has had crucial drops in multiple games. If you prorated those numbers over 17 games you would get 74 catches and 895 yards. That’s not terrible, but it is not the level of production we expect from Cooks. Part of that is a part of a shaky offense in its entirety. Part of that is a lack of depth at receiver. However, he has to cash in on the opportunities he does get.
Biggest Defensive Riser: Roy Lopez
Lopez went from 79th to 60th amongst interior defenders. That still does not put him in the top half of interior defenders, but when you consider what else is happening at that position you have to look at it differently. Maliek Collins is serviceable, but not good overall and Kurt Hinish was inactive for the game. Michael Dwunfor ranks 122nd which is DAL amongst qualifying interior defenders. This is a position group that needs some reinforcements and fast.
Biggest Defensive Faller: Rasheem Green
Green went from 48th amongst edge defenders in week two to 71st in week three. Green and Mario Addison (who really hasn’t done anything yet) were rotational defenders you hope would break out occasionally over the course of the season. Jerry Hughes has had two good games out of three opposite Jonathan Greenard. The hope for Green and Addison is that they would occasionally make enough plays to fill in the gaps.
Tracking Davis Mills
Mills went from 21st to 18th amongst the 33 starting quarterbacks. He averaged more yards per attempt this game than the last two, so I guess that is what PFF is looking at. He does outrank Mac Jones, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. Zach Wilson has been hurt and so he has no numbers. That means that Trevor Lawrence is the only 2021 draftee currently better than Mills right now. So, if we were merely tracking draft value then you would have to agree that Nick Caserio and the Texans have come out far ahead.
Of course, the goal was never for him to be better than the other draftees. The goal is for him to at least be above average and he simply isn’t there yet. Like most average to below average quarterbacks, he has good moments and bad ones. His performance is a mosaic that you must step away from and view from a distance to get the full picture. So far, it is a mediocre picture.