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Value of Things: Ins of Outs of Texans vs. Broncos

What was the great, good, and bad from Sunday’s 22-17 victory?

NFL: Denver Broncos at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans are making a habit of playing these types of games. A game they could have won handily came down to the last minute of the game. In fact, everything since week five has been decided in the final minute of the game. They started the season 0-2, so they are actually 7-3 since those games. So, the close games have been to their benefit for the most part.

Each ending has been unique to itself and this one saw the defense come up big in the second half. They’ve done that a few times this season as both units have done their thing at one point or another. Of course, we are getting to the great, good, and bad before we have looked at the basic numbers.

Key Statistics

Total Yards

Broncos— 282
Texans— 353

Rushing Yards

Broncos— 30/118
Texans— 30/89

Passing Yards

Broncos— 29/164
Texans— 33/264

Sacks

Broncos— 5
Texans— 3

Turnovers

Broncos— 3
Texans— 0

Penalties

Broncos— 2/8
Texans— 8/81

Obviously, the numbers reveal some things by themselves, but there are others if you look at things from a play to play perspective. Of course, we will get to those things in due time. The important thing is that the Texans won the game and they did a lot of good things while doing it.

The Great

At the end of the day, games are won by the players. Sure, coaches can scheme up the best plays and put players in position to make plays, but the players have to actually make the plays needed to win. The Denver Broncos made some big plays on Sunday because they are paid to play football too, This game was won by a few individual players on defense that made big plays throughout the game.

Will Anderson will likely be the player of the game by a slim margin. Everyone will focus on the two sacks, but he also deflected the first pass that Derek Stingley interested, blocked the first punt of the game, and had two additional tackles for a loss. That doesn’t count the handful of quarterback hits he had and nearly ten quarterback pressures he had. That’s what we call filling up the stat sheet.

Desmond King and Stingley made big plays too. King had a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown that was ruled an incompletion. That touchdown would have changed the game considerably. He led the team in tackles with nine. Stingley had two interceptions and shut down his guy for most of the time he was on him. Mix in a sack from Jonathan Greenard and the late interception by Jimmy Ward and you will see plenty of winning plays from this defense.

The Good

C.J. Stroud leads the league in yards passing per game. That happened in spite of the fact that Tank Dell left the game early on with a broken leg. He will be missed, but they will find some way to replace him. They have done it all season. Starting tight end Dalton Schultz was out, but Mr. December Brevin Jordan showed up during his month and added 64 receiving yards.

However, that’s burying the lead. Nico Collins added nine catches, 191 yards receiving, and his sixth touchdown of the season. He even caught one from Davis Mills that led to a first down. Collins is likely one catch away from his first 1,000 yard season. I don’t know if he is a traditional number one receiver. Still, that was the biggest question mark coming into the season, Would anyone step up and produce those numbers? Well, he has so far.

The Bad

Dameon Pierce had a 22 yard run on first and long when the Broncos were clearly playing the pass. Singletary added 4.5 yards per carry on his own, but only carried the ball eight times. Pierce carried it 14 times outside of that 22 yard run for a robust 19 yards. Folks, this ain’t working. I can wax poetic and throw out a bunch of flowery language, but that is a total of 29 carries for 67 yards outside of that 22 yard run. Even with it, they gained less than three yards a carry.

During the HOTD feature I made a comparison to the concept of a governor. This isn’t the guy sitting in Austin or your state capitol. This is a device used to control the speed of a machinery. When I was kid they would put these on gas golf carts so they could go a maximum of 10 MPH. Rumor has it you could bend the governor and disable it. Then, the cart could go 30 MPH.

The trouble is that if you are drunk or not paying attention you could easily crash into a lake or sand trap. Stone cold sober and you could speed up your round in a jiffy. The Texans running game is serving as a governor. Run it on first and second down and you almost guarantee a punt. Pass it on at least one of those downs and you probably move the chains. It is really just that simple.

We could talk about Pierce versus Singletary. We can talk about the offensive line. We can talk about the blocking scheme. We can talk about play calling and strategy. I just don’t care anymore. I am sick of this. Give the ball to Stroud and let’s fricking go. Let’s bend that governor and see what this offense can really do without calling plays we know simply won’t work.

Quarterback Corner

We will talk about this later in the week when we get to our MVP race, but Stroud is slowly but surely moving up the list of current quarterbacks and historic seasons amongst rookie quarterbacks in history. If we look at where he is at we can simply take the per game averages and project him out for the last six games.

Yards: 3,540/5,015
Touchdowns: 20/28
Interceptions: 5/7
PCT: 63.4
Rating: 101.4
Rushing Yards: 143/203
Touchdowns: 3/4

Are those MVP numbers? Maybe. They are eerily similar to what Pat Mahomes did in his first full season minus a few touchdowns. He also is on pace to have fewer interceptions. Are there things he could be better at? Absolutely. He takes too many sacks and probably doesn’t have elite level athleticism to get away from elite pass rushers. Not many quarterbacks do.

He misses occasional throws. He missed a wide open John Metchie in the first half that almost certainly would have been a touchdown. He also had a couple of really bad drops that could have kept drives going and almost certainly lifted his completion percentage for a third consecutive week. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Defenses will throw new things at him. He sees the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns next and they have two of the best defenses in football. We can only look at what has happened to this point and go with that for the time being.