On Sunday, the Houston Texans were forced to fight a war on two fronts; against the Green Bay Packers and the treacherous snow. While the Houston defense was able to hold the Green Bay offense to just 7 points in the first half, they slipped in the 4th quarter and allowed two long drives which led the Packers to score 2 touchdowns. Under constant pressure from Green Bay’s aggressive defense, the Texans offense found themselves in a game that included errant passes, a mediocre running game, and several sacks on Brock Osweiler.

In today’s article we will analyze each position; finding out what they did well and what they need to work on. Just like last week’s article, they will also be graded on their performance against the Green Bay Packers; however, since it was very clear that Houston Texans were at a disadvantage playing in the snow (unlike the native Packers), every position will be graded on a curve. Quarterback Brock Osweiler will be reviewed in the next article.

Offense

Running Backs: Former Miami Dolphin Lamar Miller finished Sunday’s game with 14 carries for just 22 yards; which resulted in a dismal 1.5 yard average. While it doesn’t take a NFL expert to know that Miller had a bad day, his stats only tell half the story. In the 1st quarter, Miller suffered a hit to his ribs that knocked him out of the game; but as banged up as he was, he returned and put his body on the line for the team. While the Green Bay defense was able to key on Miller, Johnathan Grimes stepped and became a first down machine for the Texans; he rushed for 43 yards on 5 carries, and 4 of his carries came on third down. His tough running gave the Texans a much needed spark on offense to score their first touchdown of the game. Alfred Blue was also a valuable contributor to the running game; he rushed for 38 yards on 5 carries, which included a 25 yard long run that was the 2nd longest play from scrimmage on Sunday. While receiving passes in the snow proved to be tough sledding, all 3 running backs caught at least 1 pass on offense as well.

grimes

Final Take: The offense was once again able to rush for over 100 yards as a team (Osweiler had 3 carries for 20 yards); which means that their running can be effective at times. However, the performance that was produced vs. the performance needed is one of the primary reasons the Texans are sitting at 6-6. In a game with poor passing conditions, you need to rely on the running game to move the ball and score.

Final Grade: C-

Receivers: If anyone wanted to know just how hard snow was falling or how hard the wind was blowing on Sunday vs. the Packers, all they need to do is look at the passing game. With only 185 total yards through the air, accuracy and consistency plagued this unit. Deandre Hopkins was targeted 5 times and ended with only 2 receptions; and his first reception didn’t come until the 3rd quarter. The good news is that one of Hopkins’ receptions went for a 44 yard touchdown; it was the longest offensive play from scrimmage on Sunday. Will Fuller was able to find a little more space in the secondary, tallying 5 receptions for 59 yards, which included a 24 yard long reception that helped spark a game tying scoring drive against the Packers. Both C.J Fidorowicz and Ryan Griffin were again utilized as safety nets for quarterback Brock Osweiler; the tight end tandem finished with a total of 10 receptions for 78 yards, which included a game tying 8 yard touchdown reception from Ryan Griffin.

Final Take: While this unit played relatively well it also made several mistakes; there were key drops that halted drives, and Ryan Griffin fumbled a reception on the first offensive drive of the game that was recovered by the Packers. These receivers do have talent and if they can cut down on mistakes, they will be able to go as far as Osweiler can take them.

Final Grade: C+

Offensive Line: This unit had a long day. Not only did they have to contend with multiple pass rushers, they also had to find a way to make holes in the running game; a task that has not been their strong suit. While the unit was under fire the entire game, they still allowed only two sacks, and they were able to open a few holes for the running backs to get through.

Final Take: While the Offensive line did a relatively good job against some the top pass rushers in the NFL, there are still some things they need to work on. It was clear that in the passing game that when they were alerted of the blitz they still failed to pick it up at time – which not only led to sacks, but multiple quarterback pressures. The offensive line also failed to produce enough push on a 4th and 1 conversion attempt, which led to the Packers getting their first touchdown of the game. If the team wants to make a push for the playoffs, it’s going to be vital for this unit to be tougher and smarter.

Final Grade: C-

Defense

Defensive Line: With Jadeveon Clowney out this week, the lines primary goal went from pass rush production to stopping the run. For 3 quarters Vince Wilfork plugged the middle and allowed the linebackers to clean up and make plays at or near the line of scrimmage. However, as the game went on, it was clear they had trouble running down Rodgers on passing downs; This led to multiple deep passes down field, uncontained end arounds, and several strong perimeter runs from the Packers offense.

Final Take: This unit did very well until the 4th quarter, where two long drives by the Packers offense tired them out and decreased their effectiveness. Moving forward, the d-line will have to add more depth or get off the field quicker in order not to become a liability.

Final Grade: C

Linebackers: When the offense turned the ball over on the first drive of the game, Whitney Mercileus came up with one of the biggest plays in the first half by recovering a fumble by Aaron Rodgers. He made another big play at the start of the 3rd quarter on the Packers first drive by sacking Aaron Rodgers and forcing a quick 3 and out for the Green Bay offense. Brian Cushing had 6 tackles from his inside linebacker position, including a tackle that stopped the Packers offense on a crucial 4th down attempt. Benardrick Mckinney was also fairly active; making 5 stops while roaming from sideline to sideline.

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 04: Ty Montgomery #88 of the Green Bay Packers is brought down by Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans during the first half of a game at Lambeau Field on December 4, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Final Take: While this unit made some big plays, they were few and far between; from a pass rushing standpoint, Aaron Rodgers was able to move around too much and extend plays to make passes downfield. Benardrick Mckinney also missed a tackle on Ty Montgomery which led to the Packers completing a 98 yard scoring drive. While forcing turnovers are important, it is also crucial for this unit to be consistent in order for the defense to succeed.

Final Grade: B-

Defensive Backs: While dealing with injuries to the backend and being forced to rotate several defensive backs throughout the game, this unit played a strong 3 quarters just like the rest of the defense. A.J Boyue bounced back from his poor performance last week and he provided a strong presence in the running game. He was also able to hold Packers receiver Devante Adams to just 1 reception for 17 yards. Quentin Demps was a force in run support and on the back end and led the team with 7 tackles. Demps’ counterpart Corey Moore registered 4 tackles, including one that was a punishing hit on Receiver Jordy Nelson.

Final Take: While this unit had a relatively strong outing, there were some miscues that led to big plays downfield. In the 2nd quarter, they lost track of Packers wide out Randall Cobb and he was able to score the first points of the game. Also, for some inexplicit reason, this unit was not able to cover wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who caught 8 passes for 118 yards; which including a 32 yard touchdown catch that came due to Charles James II* slipping on the slick snow. While the unit played well for the first 3 quarters, in future they need to buckle down and make stops when it counts in the passing game.

(As of 9am on10/6/2016, Charles James has been released from the team and placed on waivers)

Final Grade: C

Special Teams: Punter Shane Lechler yet again had an impact when it came to field position, by pinning the opposing offense inside the 20 on 2 separate occasions. Running back Akeem Hunt gave the offense good field position by taking a short kick on kickoff and returning it 29 yards. Will Fuller was also able to contribute on special teams with a 16 yard punt return.

st-gaff

Final Take: Nick Novak’s botched PAT was the lone mistake in this group. While it didn’t entirely effect the outcome of the game, it’s always frustrating to see kickers miss what should be considered chip shots. On the plus side, Novak made another impressive onside kick attempt, and even though this time it didn’t recovered, it should make Head Coach Bill O’Brien happy knowing that he has that trick up his sleeve.

Final Grade: B+

Coaching: When it was not firing on all cylinders, OC Greg Godsey made the appropriate adjustments to the offense in order to give it the best chance to succeed down the stretch. Unfortunately, they were still only able to muster 13 points. DC Romeo Crennel should be happy that his defense played well in the first 3 quarters; but it was extremely disappointing that his unit gave up 98 and 82 yard drive in the 4th quarter, which essentially put the game out of reach. Head Coach Bill O’Brien made two gutsy calls to go for it on 4th and 1, with only one panning out – one led to a Texans touchdown, and another led to a Green Bay touchdown.

Final Take: While it’s upsetting that the defense gave up 21 points, Texans fans should be worried more about the offense. Even with the adjustments during Sunday’s game the offense was still only able to pull together 13 points. OC Greg Godsey has to find something that can spark the offense if this team wants to find a way to play in the playoffs.

Final Grade: B

hop-3

What’s next?

While the score 21-13 vs. the Packers is the same as last’s week score vs. The San Diego Chargers, this game tells a different story. It showed a defense who took on an all pro quarterback, and showed the NFL that they don’t care who they play against because they will give 100%. Offensively, we saw a unit who looks ready to make plays but they are still making miscues that are holding them back. This Houston defense is missing a lot of key players and it’s becoming clear that they will not be able to carry the team to the playoffs alone. Whether it’s running the ball by committee, utilizing the speed in the passing game, or developing a few trick plays, the offense will need to start scoring more points.

Texans Tidbits

  1. The Trojan War
  • In Sundays game vs. the Packers two former University of Southern California Trojans took the field against each other. Linebacker Brian Cushing was a 1st round pick in 2009 by the Houston Texans and for the past 7 years he has been a valuable contributor for the defense. Linebacker Clay Matthews was also a 1st round pick by the Green Bay Packers and has become a bit of a folk hero amongst the Packer faithful
  1. Apparently, you can’t come home again
  • Sunday vs. the Packers would have been bit of a homecoming for former Wisconsin Badger J.J Watt. Born in and raised in Wisconsin, there are many citizens in the city of Green Bay who have Watt jersey. Unfortunately, the Former 2015 NFL defensive player of the year has been placed on injured reserve and will not return to the field this year. The next time the Texans will play in Green Bay won’t be until 2024.
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Joshua Forrest has over a decade of experience playing football and has a strong passion and understanding for the game. Some of Joshua's accomplishments include playing Semi-pro football for the Saint Louis Spirit, being named team captain and NSAA Scholar Athlete for the Waldorf University Warriors for the 2015-16 season, and winning the Victorian State Championship with the Croydon rangers in Australia. Joshua's articles will primarily focus the Houston Texans (in-season, free agency, team stories, and draft needs), and potential draft prospects from colleges and universities both big and small.

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