Colts-Texans Grades: Stellar Matt Hasselbeck leads Indy to 3-2

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from Thursday's Indianapolis-Houston game.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

(AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Colts-Texans Grades: Stellar Matt Hasselbeck leads Indy to 3-2

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the the Colts’ 27-20 win over the Texans.

Houston Texans

– Rarely in the last three seasons has a team stayed so committed to a game plan that keeps J.J. Watt (-2.1) quiet, and executed it so well, as the Colts did last night. Held to a solitary hit (a late one, at that, called for roughing the passer) as a pass rusher, Watt failed to record a stop for the first time since Week 2 of last season. The Colts ran some form of power away from Watt on nine of their 27 backfield carries last night, allowing them to pinch multiple blockers down on Watt to negate his threat. In spite of this clear game plan, the rest of the Houston defense still failed to snuff out the Colts’ ground attack.

– The puzzling quarterback controversy in Houston took another bizarre turn last night, as Ryan Mallett (+2.1) left the game after a roughing the passer penalty early, and never came back on after Brian Hoyer (-0.3) kept the passing game humming. That was until Hoyer’s final pass of the night, which wrecked his grade and Houston’s chances of tying the game. Hoyer was on the money with his intermediate throws (five-for-six, 77 yards, one touchdown, +1.8 passing grade), but will be dwelling on that final pass for some time. Will it cost him the start next week in what seems to be developing into a game of musical chairs under center for the Texans?

– While the Texans work out who to keep under center for a few quarters in a row, their top skill position players once again impressed with DeAndre Hopkins (+2.2 receiving) and Arian Foster (+0.9 receiving) doing their best work through the air. Foster did have one drop that led to Mallett’s interception, but he also caught nine passes and broke three tackles in a productive home debut. Meanwhile, Hopkins racked up another 14 targets, taking his total to 75 through five weeks; every other Houston WR has 86 combined.

Top performers:

OLB Jadeveon Clowney (+4.1)

ILB Benardrick McKinney (+2.2)

QB Ryan Mallett (+2.1)

RT Derek Newton (+1.8)

RG Brandon Brooks (+1.7)


Indianapolis Colts

– The Colts have learned some lessons from the Peyton Manning era; one of those is the value of a quality backup quarterback, as Matt Hasselbeck (+4.2) turned in his best game since the Seahawks’ wildcard victory over the Saints after the 2010 season. Pressured only four times (thanks in no small part to an average release time of 2.12 seconds), Hasselbeck was on the money all over the field, not least on the Colts’ aggressive 43-yard completion down the left sideline to see out the win with less than two minutes to go.

– With the Colts running left so much to stay away from J.J. Watt, they needed a strong game from their offensive linemen to the left—in Jack Mewhort (+5.5) and Khaled Holmes (+1.1) they got two such displays. Mewhort has settled back in at left guard after experimenting at right tackle to start the season, and has earned a positive grade as a run blocker in each start back on the inside.

– The Colts continue to get excellent value from third round pick Henry Anderson (+1.1), who earned a positive grade for the fifth straight week to start his career. Racking up multiple pressures for the fourth straight week, Anderson’s best work—yet again—came against the run, with three stops taking his season total to 18 (one behind J.J. Watt for the top 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, in that regard).

Top performers:

LG Jack Mewhort (+5.5)

QB Matt Hasselbeck (+4.2)

WR Andre Johnson (+2.2)

DE Billy Winn (+2.0)

DE Henry Anderson (+1.1)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Jeff

    Its insane that Henry Anderson made it all the way to the 3rd round before getting drafted. Based on his college tape the guy was a top-20 pick. Btw great job by Indy in neutralizing Watt. Not many have been able to do that in the past three years.

    • Vitor

      PFF nailed it before the draft (about Anderson)

      • crashby89

        That they did. Had him right there at the top. Also had high grades for Parry if I remember correctly. Production, especially against top opponents should not be ignored just because they don’t fit the look.

        • VfJ

          Your last point is one of the great tells in scouting…Lot of mistakes made when quality of opponent is not sufficiently factored into draft grades…(see Bjorn Werner)

    • Louis Urbancic

      He has been a monster in the run game. While he doesn’t have a ton of sacks because every team we’ve faced has predominantly been passing on 3 step drops, he still has a lot of QB hurries. An absolute steal.

      The Colts have been getting solid push and pressures from everyone. It could be a little more consistent, but like I said, teams have been dinking and dunking on them quite a bit. They could really use a playmaker at ILB to help sure up the pass coverage on the short stuff.

    • JudoPrince

      Huh? The 3rd round is still very solid draft position; plenty of great athletes are sticking around there. Anderson had been graded well, but it’s not like he’s taking the league by storm. He has 1 sack so far, which is good, but that’s not exactly dominance from the pass rush position. 3rd round sounds about right. By the way, Zadarious Smith went in the 4th round and he’ll likely be a more superior rush DE in this league


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  • Jim Winslow

    Watt needs to step up his play, you can;t be the face of the franchise and have crap games in these situations.

    • Kenny Yancey

      Did he really have a crap game or did the Colts play him correctly? Watt was trying his best but the Colts had him covered and double teamed the whole game.

      • Jim Winslow

        yeah but if you are considered the best Defensive player you have to grade higher than -2.1, profootballfocus takes account of the double teams.

    • papabear13

      -2.1 is not a crap game. Is it a below average/not good game? Sure, but it’s not terrible. Watt has put up two consecutive seasons of historically dominant play. Knocking a guy for having a bad day is just dumb.

      • Jim Winslow

        Nah hes regarded as the best defensive players in the game, he shoukd play better in those close division match ups. There is no excuse and he should be knocked for it.

  • Mark Crowe

    Question for PFF: How does Mallet’s grade look so much better than Hoyer’s? Does Mallet’s interception not count as much becasue it was tipped by Foster (e.g. a player from his own team)? Watching the game, I thought Hoyer performed better than Mallet did in the previous three weeks. Even if you extrapolate Mallet’s two or three drives, he didn’t look as effective. Just wondering…

    • rogue

      You answered your own question. PFF rewards the QB for when a receiver drops a well thrown pass.

      • Mark Crowe

        It’s a great system, but this is a specific instance that shows how subjective the PFF system might be. There is a lot of evidence that Mallet throws a hard-to-catch ball, and that the interception in question was because the throw was too hot and high and went through Foster’s hands. (In contrast, Rodgers has incredible touch on the ball. I didn’t mean that to sound dirty.) The judgment that the ball was catchable might be skewing Mallet’s numbers excessively.

        • Cant FixStupid

          By a good pass catching RB, that ball should have been caught. Mallet wasn’t looking bad at all to start that game, and had actually made a few nice throws. I know Hoyer did play great, but the Texans did Mallet a little dirty in that game. Would like to have seen how Mallet performed that game, cause it looked like it could have been a good day.

          • Mark Crowe

            I understand that thinking…unless you’d watched Mallet in the three previous games. He should not have started the game in the first place. The QB situation has been handled horribly–Hoyer was pulled too early in the season, and I think O’Brien was looking for an excuse to pull Mallet against the Colts so he didn’t look like a flip-flopper. Unfortunately, that was a fail.

        • papabear13

          I don’t think there’s ever been a question that PFF’s grade have a subjective component to them…but that was not a ball that Mallet should be criticized for. PFF looks at it this way; was the throw a good decision? Yes. Was that a catchable well-thrown pass? Yes.

          That was a nice drive by the Texans and if not for Foster not catching the ball the Texans would have had first and goal with a good chance to take a 7-0 lead.

          Mallet’s two other drives; A failed QB sneak on 3rd and 1, and a draw on 3rd and 19 after a -4 yards rushing by foster and -5 on a blown up screen. Mallet might not have been great, but his play wasn’t the reason the Texans were down 17 at that point.

          • Mark Crowe

            I agree it wasn’t Mallet’s fault in the sense that it was not one person’s fault, it was the team’s fault. However, on the first drive, he threw a hot ball. On the second drive, he failed yet again on a QB sneak. And he was unable to get anything going on the consecutive drives. That changed when Hoyer took over. With the same team, there were different results with a different QB.

          • papabear13

            Your original question was why Mallet’s grade looked better than Hoyer’s. In that context…You’re arguing that Hoyer’s grade should be higher because the results were better with Hoyer in the game…but that’s not what PFF is grading. They’re just looking at what he did individually on each play. It’s like getting mad at off road vehicle for not having a comfortable ride on the highway. Yes, the offense was better under Hoyer, and some of that probably had to with him checking to the right play based on the defensive look. Something PFF’s grade doesn’t account for. The hail mary to Strong probably didn’t give Hoyer’s grade much of a bump; He just heaved it up for grabs and the Colts defenders took each other out. In that situation if it had been intercepted it probably wouldn’t have hurt his grade much either. The interception at the end of the game by Hoyer? Likely a big negative.

          • Mark Crowe

            Fair enough. Thank you.

    • Malachi

      hoyer’s late INT was most likely a -2.0 play, remove that and their grades are similar

      • Mark Crowe

        Thank you.

  • SuperRaider

    hey PFF, how do we see grades for each game now?