HOU-JAX Grades: Hoyer-to-Hopkins connection improving
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Texans’ 31-20 win over the Jaguars:
– J.J. Watt (+7.1) was questionable to play in yesterday’s game with an illness, and you could see in the first half that something was not quite right. Watt was often pushed around by the Jacksonville offensive linemen on runs, and was almost completely invisible rushing the passer. With that in mind, his +7.1 grade is even more impressive when considering that he earned almost all of it in the second half. Sure, it did help Watt that the Jaguars had to play from behind, and he had 62 opportunities to rush the passer; however, he capitalized on these. He led the team with three quarterback hits, eight hurries and one batted pass.
– While right tackle Chris Clark (+5.8) did have a very good outing in the run game and earned a grade of +4.7 for that facet of the game, his teammates seemed to struggle in creating space for the running backs. Fullback Jay Prosch (-1.2) and offensive linemen Brandon Brooks (-0.6), Ben Jones, (-1.8) and Kendall Lamm (-2.0) all earned negative run block grades for their performance yesterday. Consequently, it is not surprising to see that 74 of the 89 yards gained by the Texans running backs came after contact.
The Brian Hoyer (+3.5) to DeAndre Hopkins (+3.7) connection seems to be improving week by week, and it became the deciding factor in yesterday’s game. Hopkins was targeted a team-high 15 times yesterday and he caught 10 of these passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns without any drops. Most of these were not even easy catches, as 12 of his targets came more than 10 yards downfield. Hoyer had a total of 15 passes that traveled more than 10 yards in the air; the fact that 80 percent of these went towards Hopkins further underlines his importance to the Texans’ deep passing game.
DE J.J. Watt (+7.1)
OT Chris Clark (+5.8)
WR DeAndre Hopkins (+3.7)
QB Brian Hoyer (+3.5)
RG Derek Newton (+3.0)
– Although Julius Thomas (-1.4) scored his first touchdown with the Jaguars, it was not a great game for the former Denver Bronco. Thomas was targeted a team-high 13 times, but could haul in only seven passes for 78 yards. Among the incompletions were two drops that should have been easy receptions, and also two of Blake Bortles’ three interceptions. On the bright side, Thomas earned the second-highest run block grade on his team with +0.2.
– Quarterback Blake Bortles (-0.3) took a step back yesterday from his promising outings against Indianapolis and Tampa Bay. Although he was not great under pressure, surprisingly Bortles struggled even more when he was not under pressure yesterday. When under pressure, he had an NFL passer rating of 78.6 and threw one touchdown without any picks. However, his passer rating dropped to 67.1 when working from a clean pocket, as he threw for two touchdowns—but also three interceptions—on these plays.
Safety John Cyprien’s (-5.5) bad form continued yesterday afternoon, as he was the lowest-graded defender on his team. While he did miss two tackles on his way to a run defense grade of -2.3, he had issues in the passing game too, as he earned the same grade for that aspect of his play. Cyprien was targeted five times by quarterback Brian Hoyer and allowed four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown, leading to a passer rating of 158.3.
DT Tyson Alualu (+2.9)
DT Abry Jones (+1.7)
WR Bryan Walters (+1.4)
LG Zane Beadles (+1.4)
RG A.J. Cann (+1.1)