After the Texans had fallen behind 24-10 last week at Carolina, there was no better time than the present for a big play down the field. Many people have asked me often, can the Texans go deep down the field? Will the Texans go deep down the field?
Check out all the photos from Wednesday's practice.
How can the Texans go deep down the field?
Well, yes and yes. This is how.
One play after quarterback Ryan Mallett threw a nine-yard curl route to Nate Washington, the Texans signal caller launched one deep that nearly ended up as a 71-yard touchdown.
The curl route was key on first down because it set up aggressive cornerback Charles Tillman on the very next play. On 2nd and one, the Texans came out in a similar set as on first down. I refer to this as a bandit set - TE and one WR to one side, with two receivers set to the other side.
On first down, the Panthers played a zone pattern match concept and Washington circled up in an area in front of Tillman, got open and made the catch on the throw from Mallett. On second down, the Panthers appeared to be in a similar coverage, with a slight change as the safety jumped the RB's flat route while both LB's played inside out on the TE.
The key to this play is the fact that the safety Kurt Coleman is late getting back over to the middle of the field, so Mallett knew that he essentially had one-on-one coverage to Washington's side. The two inside linebackers played "inside and out" on TE Garrett Graham. The safety Roman Harper jumped out to the flat on Alfred Blue. And, on the backside, Josh Norman and Bene Benwikere locked on DeAndre Hopkins and Cecil Shorts.
That left Tillman on Washington. Keep in mind that Washington had just run a curl route just in front of Tillman. The Panthers CB remembered that too and gambled that the same thing was coming. When Washington started his route, he broke down to curl it up as he had on the previous snap. Tillman throttled down to get ready to make the play.
But, Washington had a double move in mind. He stutter-stepped in front of Tillman, who bought it, and then flew past him.
Mallett saw it immediately and as soon as Washington started up the field, the Texans gunslinger let fly.
Mallett dropped a gem in Washington's hands as Mallett had plenty of time to deliver the ball with touch and accuracy. The veteran receiver ran underneath it and headed for...well, the green grass tripped him up and turned a sure touchdown into a much needed 48-yard gain. However, Mallett scored on a quarterback scramble a few plays later.
This was a perfect example of how the Texans can set up going deep and then execute on the long ball going forward.