Jadeveon Clowney Shows Out
Jadeveon Clowney may have played his best NFL game on Sunday. He got out of the gates slowly, but someone in blue and bright green fired him up half way through the first quarter. In what should have been his biggest play of the game, Clowney sacked Russell Wilson and forced a fumble. Unfortunately, most Texans players assumed the fumble was an incompletion and the recovery led to an unusual first down for Seattle.
Clowney finished the game with a sack, four tackles, a forced fumble and seven quarterback hurries. It does not show up in the stat sheet, but his pressure in the early third quarter led to the sack by Ufomba Kamalu. His performance earned him the highest Pro Football Focus grade (96.6) of any player in the game. His performance was very impressive, but the question is can he maintain this momentum. He has never lacked the physicality or athleticism, but has lacked the motor. If he can play with the intensity he showed against Seattle then the sky is the limit.
Rookie QB Takes Flight
Against the Seahawks, Deshaun Watson faced the toughest secondary he has faced at this point in his career. Instead of giving the Legion of Boom too much respect, he attacked them all game long. Watson had his first 400-yard passing game of his young career. He took advantage of Seattle’s man coverage and threw the ball down the field averaging over thirteen yards per completion. His last touchdown was unexpected when Hopkins took a screen pass 72 yards for the score.
Watson’s day was not perfect. He threw three interceptions including two to Richard Sherman. His first interception was the result of a common rookie mistake. Watson stared down DeAndre Hopkins and safety Earl Thomas was ready for it. Thomas broke on the throw and took the interception 78 yards for a touchdown. To be fair to Watson, his last interception should not be held against him. With 16 seconds left, Watson had to take a shot and it did not go his way. The Legion of Boom had its moments on Sunday, but Watson did more than enough to win on Sunday.
Offensive Line Struggles
Duane Brown returned on Sunday from his six game holdout. The timing was perfect as he replaced the injured Chris Clark. Brown’s return made only a slight difference against the Seahawks front seven. The offensive line allowed five sacks and Watson avoided a couple would be sacks. Seattle had five defenders get in on the action led by Frank Clark and Michael Bennett. The pair combined for three and a half sacks and 12 quarterback pressures, nine by Clark.
The running game struggled just like the offensive line. Houston’s running backs averaged 2.9 yards per carry and the longest rush was a thirteen yard carry by Lamar Miller. The only rushing success came from Watson and half of his rushing yards came when eluding the Seahawks pass rush. They struggled against the Seahawks defensive line and were never able to get to the second level. Seattle linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner were left unblocked and flew around the field. In week eight Wright leads the NFL with fourteen tackles and Wagner is tied for third with twelve before Monday night’s game.
New Force in the Middle
The past two seasons the Texans defense was anchored by veteran defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. He was a five time All-Pro lineman and provided veteran leadership for an already strong defense. Lately Wilfork can be found on commercials for supermarkets instead of a football field. Houston needed someone to step up and fill Wilfork’s massive shoes.
Second year defensive tackle D.J. Reader has raised his game to anchor the interior defensive line. Reader is someone all offensive coordinators must game plan for if they want to run the ball against Houston.
The former Clemson Tiger ranks fifth on the Texans with 29 total tackles from his defensive tackle position. The Texans have showed they believe in Reader by moving him around to get him in better matchups. He started the season playing primarily nose tackle, but has lined up more frequently over the guard since injuries to Watt and Mercilus. He has shown he can be more disruptive than most players his size and the Texans are beginning to take advantage of that.
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