HOU-CAR Grades: Jadeveon Clowney making impact felt
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Texans-Panthers game:
– The benching of Brian Hoyer led the Texans to start a higher upside option in Ryan Mallett, but Mallett (-8.2) showed little of that promise in this game. His receivers didn’t help out on the stat sheet, with an abysmal six drops by his receivers (though our grading accounts for it). Even so, he simply missed on too many of his throws. He completed just 5-of-20 passes aimed over 10 yards in the air, and the bulk (-6.2) of his negative grade came under pressure, where he failed to complete even a single pass, going 0-for-16.
– After a strong, but somewhat surprising, 2014, Derek Newton cashed in on a five-year deal with Houston, and while a two game sample isn’t enough to draw meaningful conclusions, the return on that investment so far does not look promising. Moving from his natural spot at right tackle to left guard as the line shuffled to account for an injured Duane Brown, Newton (-4.5) earned a negative grade for the second week in a row and has now surrendered 10 pressures on the year. Perhaps it can be chalked up to dealing with the excellent Justin Houston last week and a positional change this week, but if he can’t rebound quickly, the Texans may end up with a liability in a spot they though they had locked down.
– He’s not exploded onto the scene as many thought he would, but in year two, Jadeveon Clowney is at the very least making his impact felt. Undoubtedly playing in front of more than a few fans from his time at South Carolina, Clowney (+3.5) put forth his highest graded game as a pro, recording three quarterback hurries while locking down the edge against the run.
OLB Jadeveon Clowney (+3.5)
RG Brandon Brooks (+2.6)
S Rahim Moore (+2.2)
ILB Brian Cushing (+1.4)
OLB Whitney Mercilus (+1.4)
– The Panthers were missing a couple of their top defenders in this game, but DT Kawann Short (+5.9) did everything in his power to mitigate the loss of Star Lotulelei with a two-hit, four-hurry performance against a Houston offensive line that was grossly overmatched throughout much of this contest. There are still question marks in the Carolina secondary, but if their pass rushers continually get after the quarterback as they did against Houston, the back-end of the defense will have an easier time holding up in coverage.
– While not the guy with the biggest reputation in this secondary, CB Josh Norman (+3.1) had a terrific day in coverage, despite being tested early and often. Thrown at 12 times (mostly while covering DeAndre Hopkins), Norman surrendered six catches for a measly 40 yards, none of which converted a first down. With a defensive holding penalty being the only blot in his copybook, Norman’s second grade over +1.0 in as many weeks has seen him shoot to the top of our cornerback grades this season.
– Carolina was criticized at the time for drafting LB Shaq Thompson at arguably the strongest position on their roster, and the first round rookie saw his first extended playing time with Luke Kuechly out for the week with a concussion. Playing just under half of the team’s defensive snaps, Thompson (+1.5) showed a bit of Kuechly’s penchant for closing on ball carriers, recording three defensive stops, with a fourth nullified by a late hit penalty in the first quarter.
DT Kawann Short (+5.9)
FS Kurt Coleman (+4.4)
LG Andrew Norwell (+3.9)
CB Josh Norman (+3.1)
DT Kyle Love (+2.6)