Houston Texans Team Analyst John Harris shares his notes from the Texans Week 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.
South Florida has certainly not been one of my favorite places to travel for Texans games. I've been on the sideline in Hard Rock Stadium twice in 2015 and 2022 - those were two of the most difficult first halves in my nine years on the sideline. Sunday was rough but there were a few aspects to grow on in the second half.
Here are my Harris Hits from Sunday's afternoon:
It's hard to know where to begin, but I'll start with the Texans defense that sacked Dolphins QBs five times. That's not a sentence that I thought I would write when this game started. But, in the second quarter, the Texans started getting pass rush pressure on Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, even when he was dealing outstandingly well. On Tua's only touchdown pass of the day, the pass rush pushed him off the spot, but the brilliant Tagovailoa found TE Durham Smythe for a touchdown. After that though, DL Maliek Collins and company started winning one-on-one battles and really got after Tagovailoa and his replacement Skylar Thompson. Collins had moments of truly taking over the game with both his pass rush and his ability to play the run. Collins finished with 2.0 sacks, 3.0 TFL and two QB hurries. It might be the best game that I've seen Collins play.
The one area that has been a major concern for the Texans is the run defense. Heading into this matchup, I was a bit terrified that the Dolphins had found a relatively balanced offense and a rejuvenated run game prior to the bye week. Two weeks ago, in their last game prior to that bye, the Dolphins ran for nearly 200 yards. Today, against the Texans, the Dolphins ran for just 66 yards on 26 carries. That's 2.5 yards per carry, clearly the best run defensive performance this year. If there's a bright, shining light to come out of this afternoon spent in Miami it's that the run defense did show up…right on time to face one of the best running backs in the league next week - Nick Chubb.
The first half was one that QB Kyle Allen would love to forget. The Texans generated just 32 yards on 25 offensive plays. To be fair, Allen had absolutely NO time to throw as the Dolphins bombarded him in the pocket without slowing them down. In the second half, though, a more confident Allen did emerge. To wit, even with a 345 lb. Dolphin about to bury him in the turf, Allen threw a dart to TE Jordan Akins, who turned in one of the great runs I've seen for the Texans second touchdown of the day. The Texans starting QB threw for 215 yards, 166 yards in the second half. Unfortunately, he threw a dreadful interception to Andrew Van Ginkel in the first half and that was a tough way to start the game. The way that he came back in the second half should provide a little hope heading into next week v. Cleveland.
TE Jordan Akins had a tough start to the game with a fumble that became a scoop and score for the Dolphins defense. But, he came back and made one of the best plays I've seen in his five years in Houston. Once he got the ball in his hands near the 20-yard line, he ran away from a cover linebacker and then through superstar safety Jevon Holland for a touchdown. Holland hit Akins, wait, flip that, Akins hit Holland at the five and ran through him for the score. I mean, wow. Akins led the Texans in receiving yards and had the only receiving TD on the day. He continues to be arguably the most dangerous weapon on this 2022 offense.
I started to watch the game back around midnight after arriving back home. That was not what I should have done. On the first seven offensive plays, the blown blocks were WAY too plentiful. OL got beat inside when there was help outside. Dolphins DL, in particular Christian Wilkins, swam over Texans OL all day in the run game too. Even on Jordan Akins great TD, Kyle Allen threw with a Dolphin right in his face after beating an interior OL. As such, tough day for the OL and that's, unfortunately, becoming all too familiar.
Quick hits on the way out…rookie LB Jake Hansen is really starting to make an impact. DB M.J. Stewart continues to make plays in this defense with his reps on the field. DB Jalen Pitre played an excellent ball game and it looked as if he was stepping up to take on leadership responsibilities too.
Alright, I don't have many more Hits that make sense or will tell much more of the story, so I'll end it there. See ya next week, everyone.