by: Mike Meltser (@MikeMeltser)
Bill O’Brien said about a week and a half ago that the standard for the Texans wasn’t 9-7. For me, that meant that they had to beat either the Chiefs on Sunday or the Patriots on Thursday night. That was accomplished on Sunday. They have their issues, but Kansas City has been one of the better teams in the AFC, and the Texans controlled their 19-12 win throughout.
The defensive performance was terrific, allowing only 291 total yards, no touchdowns, and holding Alex Smith to a QBR of 10.2. The coverage on the back end was mostly very good.
Smith targeted Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce a combined 22 times for 11 catches. That’s not an easy task, especially when you’re dealing with a QB as efficient as Smith typically is. The scheme called for AJ Bouye to cover Kelce quite a bit, and that worked to Houston’s advantage, especially after the way Kelce annihilated the defense at NRG Stadium last year.
I’m not exactly sure where I stand on Brock Osweiler through 2 games. He threw 2 INTs, and had a third deftly knocked out of a defender’s hands by DeAndre Hopkins. On the other hand, the picks seem to be more of the “bad throw” variety, as opposed to the “bad decision” variety. The 2nd INT, thrown in the direction of Hopkins, was errant and picked off by Marcus Peters. Hopkins was well-covered on the play, but a pass thrown towards the inside would have been an incompletion at worst.
On the plus side for Osweiler, I think the overall operation on offense seems to be operating smoothly. He also had 2 more TDs taken off the board in the second quarter. Osweiler made nice throws in the end zone to Hopkins (ruled incomplete) and Strong (dropped) that should have been an extra 8 points on the scoreboard.
I thought Osweiler had two strong 3rd down plays late in the 4th quarter. On a 3rd and 6, up by 7, he quick-snapped and threw to Jonathan Grimes on the outside, who broke a tackle to get the first down. After the game, Brock said he noticed the Chiefs had some difficulty in Week 1 with miscommunication on linebackers going out to cover running backs, and took advantage. It required good blocks from Hopkins and a very good effort from Grimes, but that was well-executed. Also, Osweiler found Hopkins for 16 yards on a 3rd and 17 a few plays later. Nick Novak would need every bit of those yards, as his 43 yard FG barely squeezed over the crossbar.
Similar to my analysis on Osweiler, I’m not quite sure exactly what to make of the running game right now. The box score has 34 carries for 97 yards, but the Texans had more success in the 4th quarter than I expected them to have. I don’t think it’s abysmal, but it’s clearly a work in progress right now.
Tyreek Hill gave Houston all sorts of problems on special teams. He averaged 15.8 yards per punt return, 27.7 yards per kickoff return, and took a kick back for a TD that was brought back on a shakyyyyyyy holding call. Hill is an especially dangerous returner as a rookie, but this is something to monitor. The Texans’ coverage units have been very good in the preseason and for most of the Bears game, but this was not a great outing.
The Texans were 0-4 in the red zone against the Chiefs, which won’t cut it over the course of the season. After the game, O’Brien placed the blame on penalties, and not on the play-calling. Something to monitor moving forward.
Overall, this was a solid performance, with a high level game defensively.