Since the Houston Texans are coming off of their bye week, we don’t have a traditional opponent to compare with our normal Tuesday column. So, we are doing a little self-scouting that teams normally do this time of year. Looking at 2022 numbers sounds depressing and I know some people would much rather move on, but looking at those numbers will show us where the growth has been and where some growth is still needed.
Since the team has only played six games, we will look at every number on a per game basis. Usually, we look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. This time around we will look at offense, defense, and quarterbacks to get a sense of where the team is at and why they have performed better than the did a year ago.
We are going to use many of the same categories that we use from week to week. We will remove penalties from both sides since those are team statistics and not necessarily just offensive or defensive in nature. We want to make sure we are directly comparing 2022 and 2023 on the offensive side of the ball.
One of the things that David Culley never understood about offensive football is the fact that punts are almost like turnovers. The Texans are punting one fewer times per game. Add that to the fact that they are averaging one fewer turnovers per game and you can see why the offense has been more successful. They are averaging six more plays per game which almost equals one additional drive.
One additional drive not only means additional yards and additional points, but it also means less time that the defense is on the field. Complementary football is a thing. I know some people recoil when they hear that because they are suffering from Bill O’Brien related PTSD. A lot of that is on Stroud as we look at the passing numbers.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that running game isn’t any better than it was last season. In fact, it has been worse. They are averaging 2.96 yards per carry and Dameon Pierce has been the main culprit. Of course, we say that just in the statistical sense. One could blame play calling, the line, or anything other than Pierce himself. Either way, going with Singletary might be the way to go in the interim.
We are essentially looking at the mirror image of the offensive numbers. Again, we don’t want to depress anyone by forcing them to relive the 2022 experience. Hopefully, we will see something we like.
So, we are essentially looking at a mirror image. The team is in the positive in terms of turnover and the offense and defense is creating the exact same number of punts. It makes perfect sense that they are playing .500 ball. The total yards are close as well. So, we can begin to break this down positively and negatively.
At first glance, the passing numbers look bad. Yet, we need to consider that they are absorbing nearly seven additional attempts per game. They are surrendering nearly identical yards per play on passing defense. The key has been a better rushing defense. That has helped them get off the field a little more often.
If there is a negative it is the pass rush. They are tied for DAL with only nine sacks. Even when you go on a per game basis that is still considerably worse than last season. Last year’s pass rush wasn’t exactly the 1985 Bears either. Hopefully, this is something that will improve as the season goes along.
Again, this is not about shaming Davis Mills. We’ve beaten that dead horse until the noxious fumes knocked us out and sent us to the hospital. However, it is important to pinpoint why Stroud has been better and what that looks like. Hopefully then we can duplicate that success and win more often.
Davis Mills: 207.9 YPG, 61.0%, 6.51 YPA, 1.13 TD/G, 1.00 INT/G, 78.8 Rating, 6.1 Sack%
C.J. Stroud: 276.6 YPG, 59.6%, 7.79 YPA, 1.50 TD/G, 0.17 INT/G, 96.4 Rating, 5.8 Sack%
No one in their right mind would claim that Stroud has had a better line in front of him than Mills. They may have played better, but they have shuffled through more iterations in six games than they did all of last season. Yet, he hasn’t been sacked as often and is creating more yards per attempt.
I am certainly sensitive to the idea that Bobby Slowik is a considerably better play caller than Pep Hamilton or Tim Kelly. Yet, we can make excuses until we are blue in the face. You either make plays or you don’t. Stroud is making the plays and avoiding the picks that Mills wasn’t. That’s the bottom line.