Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris shares his notes from the Texans Week 11 game against Commanders.
It wasn't the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon as the Texans were beaten, and beaten up, by the Washington Commanders. Here are my Harris Hits from a rough afternoon of football at NRG Stadium.
There's not much to say about a pick six on the second play of the game, but it seemed evident that either the whole defense knew what was coming or just Kendall Fuller. The entire 11 man defense was within nine yards of the line of scrimmage on the snap. Furthermore, go back and look at the first play of the game. Fuller was on the opposite side and was no deeper than eight yards off of the LOS. Then, he never backed up when Davis Mills dropped to throw as Jordan Akins ran to the flat. Fuller then made a tackle on a throw to Akins for a loss. On the second play, the CBs sat on quick routes/out route and Fuller was just waiting for Davis Mills to make that mistake. He did and Fuller capitalized on it with a pick six. Early in any game, I just don't want to let those defenders get comfortable so I like deep shots to back them off, even if it's just a bit. But, would there even be enough time to get that throw off? Read the next hit for the answer.
There wasn't really ANY way to take a deep shot without Davis Mills wearing a Washington DL as he threw. Even on that quick three step throw that Fuller intercepted, Washington DT DaRon Payne was in Mills' face as he delivered the ball. Payne didn't even really do anything but run upfield and he ended up in the passing lane. The interior protection needed improvement all day long.
After the interception, I thought that the run game could get rolling. On the first play after the pick six, Washington DT Jonathan Allen used a simple swim move to get clean into the backfield for a TFL on the shotgun GT counter that the Texans ran perfectly against the Eagles and the Giants (not to mention the fact that the Texans had a penalty for illegal procedure). I mean, Allen just swiped past the OL and easily got into the backfield.
On second down, over on the left side of the OL, Allen again used a simple swim move to swat away a Texans OL. Over on the other side, the right side of the line completely whiffed on DE Casey Toohill. As expected, those two met RB Dameon Pierce in the backfield for a second straight TFL.
Third down was a tunnel screen to WR Chris Moore that was stuffed by ten Commanders. TEN. When Moore was finally tackled down for no gain, there were TEN white shirts in the picture at the spot Moore was tackled. TEN. The hustle and effort the Washington defense showed on Sunday was impressive, to say the least.
The Texans run defense had some solid moments but, again, the tackling wasn't always perfect. That said, it was better than in previous games. The missed tackles were a major reason that Washington ran for 153 yards, half of which, or more, came after first contact. The Texans held the Commanders to 3.8 yards per rush, which marked improvement since Derrick Henry and Josh Jacobs went off on the Texans defense earlier this year.
LB Christian Kirksey came up with one of the best form tackles I've seen from him in his two years. On first down after the punt, Washington RB Brian Robinson Jr. started through an open hole in the A gaps and Kirksey filled that gap quickly. He stoned Robinson one-on-one for a TFL to start a first quarter drive.
After the Texans defense came up with a three and out, the Texans went back to the run on the first two downs of the following drive. Washington rookie DT John Ridgeway shed an interior OL easily to jump into the running lane of Dameon Pierce. Again, the Commanders just swatted away a Texans OL to get free and make a tackle on Pierce.
On third down, at least two Texans could've been called for holding penalties, but Kenyon Green was called for the holding penalty on Allen. When the throw to Nico Collins came up short of the first down, the Commanders declined the penalty and forced the Texans to punt. It wasn't a complicated rush - just four, but Allen used his patented Hump move on Green and when Allen turned Green, it looked like a holding. It really wasn't but there was, at least, one holding elsewhere. So, it was going to get called somewhere on that play for sure.
Texans DB Will Redmond made a tremendous hit on the next punt return. Good to see the recently acquired Redmond make a play early in the game.
Texans DB Jalen Pitre had a great look at one interception early in the game and he had a 50/50 shot at one other interception in the first half. Unfortunately, he couldn't reel in either one. He had one in his hands against Philadelphia as well but A.J. Brown knocked it out. He has two interceptions on the season, both in the game at Chicago. Those picks will come for Pitre but he wasn't able to turn the tide with one, or more, picks. The first one was just an arm punt by Taylor Heinicke that Pitre wasn't able to hold onto. The second one was much tougher as Washington WR Jahan Dotson tipped the ball just before it arrived near Pitre and it changed course, hitting Pitre's body after the carom.
A few plays later, Washington's Allen came up with one of the most impressive sacks I've seen this year or any year. Plus, DE Efe Obada was also there after winning his pass rush one-on-one as well. Rough rep for everyone on the OL on that sack.
After a Texans punt, the Commanders moved down inside the Texans 10-yard line and called a speed sweep to Curtis Samuel. From the ten yard line, Samuel took the snap and slithered into the end zone completely untouched for the first offensive touchdowns of the day. The Commanders' play call was brilliant as the Texans weren't able to lay a hand on Samuel as he sped into the end zone.
The Texans next offensive drive started with a three yard Pierce run, his longest of the day to that point, setting up a second and seven. As soon as Mills dropped to pass, Washington DL DaRon Payne ran completely unabated to Mills and sacked him. I mean, he looked as if he just got in a sprinter's stance and had no interference on his way to Mills.
Davis Mills was sacked on the next play as well. So, three of the previous four plays ended up in sacks for the Texans.
I felt like DL Maliek Collins played one of his best games all season for the Texans. He was sorely missed after his injury against Las Vegas but he showed up all over the field against Washington. With the score 14-0 and the Commanders driving deep into Texans territory, Collins forced a bad throw and had a stuff for no gain on two consecutive plays.
Down 17-0, RB Dare Ogunbowale made a WONDERFUL play on third down, catching a checkdown pass that he turned into a first down play. I mean, just awesome play. But, the refs got fooled by another Jonathan Allen hump move. Allen actually threw Kenyon Green to the ground and the refs thought Green snatched him to the ground. So, they threw a holding flag on Green but it was Allen who yanked Green to the ground. Ogunbowale's effort was negated by an erroneous flag.
I really thought the offense would get rolling in the second half after TE O.J. Howard snatched a Davis Mills pass with one hand and picked up nine yards on the first play of the half. Howard just reached out and snagged a pass so easily with one hand and turned up for a near first down. Suffice to say, the offense didn't take that as a hint and slogged through the half, scoring just one touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
Yet, on that drive, the offense got down into the low red zone, all the way to the Commanders five yard line. Then, the Commanders secondary put clamps on the Texans WR, forcing a couple of incompletions, a sack and a field goal attempt. The Texans absolutely, 100% needed a touchdown and walked away with just a field goal.
Man, just, wow, the Texans' OL protection was not good at all and that's probably the best place to stop, honestly. We'll hope for better days ahead, starting in Miami next week. See ya then, everyone.
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