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.
– 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.
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)
– 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).
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)