It is safe to say that Sunday was the best game Tom Savage has played as a professional. He completed 69 percent of his throws with two of those being touchdown passes. Savage had been overly reliant on DeAndre Hopkins, but against the Cardinals he completed passes to seven different receivers. Savage made quicker decisions and did not try to create something out of nothing.
The former Pitt Panther appears to be improving with additional game and practice time under his belt. For this improvement to continue Savage has one major flaw he needs to correct. In less than four full games played Savage is tied for fourth in the NFL in fumbles with seven. At his current pace he would finish a full season with 28 fumbles, five more than the current record of 23.
Savage has not shown the ability to win games by himself. Therefore, ball security must be a focus moving forward. His offensive line will have some say, but he also needs to be more aware of the pass rush.
The Secondary continues to Struggle
In the last three games the Texans secondary has struggled against their opponent’s best receiver. The likes of T.Y. Hilton, Robert Woods and Larry Fitzgerald have averaged 7.3 receptions and 146 yards. Fitzgerald had the worst game of the three, but still finished with nine catches on 10 targets for 91 yards and one touchdown.
Facing a battered Cardinals offense, you would expect most of Mike Vrabel’s focus to be on #11 in red and white. That did not appear to be the case. Fitzgerald can still get his, but he almost single-handedly kept Arizona in the game.
The Texans allowed less than 300 yards passing for the first time since week 6 facing the Browns. Arizona was playing with their third string quarterback and still had some success. Houston was lucky that Blaine Gabbert missed a few throws that could have changed the game.
Clowney from Bust to Boom
No one has had a larger shift in public perception than Jadaveon Clowney in the last 18 months. As recently as a year ago people were arguing that he was in the Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell and Ki-Jana Carter category of worst all-time NFL draft picks.
Clowney had already surpassed his 2016 sack total with eight sacks. More impressive is the fact that he is tied for first in the NFL with 15 tackles for loss. He has forced two fumbles, recovered another two and scored a touchdown. Clowney has been one of the leagues dominant defenders in 2017.
Teams can no longer treat him like any other defender. Opposing coordinators are chipping Clowney with backs and the Cardinals used two lineman multiple times to keep him off Gabbert. These efforts are not having the same effect as they formerly did. When he is not being double teamed he is excelling and Sunday’s game was further evidence of this.
Stopping the Run
While Mike Vrabel’s defensive unit struggled against Larry Fitzgerald, but the same cannot be said about Adrian Peterson. The Texans defense front continued its strong season against the run. Peterson was held to 26 yards on 14 carries. The longest run of the day came on a Blaine Gabbert scramble.
Houston was so dominant that Arizona largely abandoned the running the game in the second half. This Texans unit has been stout all season ranking fifth in the NFL by allowing 3.7 yards per carry. More importantly they have only allowed three rushing touchdowns in three games which is number one in the NFL.
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