KC-HOU Grades: DE J.J. Watt continues to impress
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the KC-HOU game:
Kansas City Chiefs
– TE Travis Kelce (+1.6) showed just how dangerous he can be as a receiver (+2.6 receiving) after being hindered for much 2014. Catching all six balls thrown his way, Kelce was devastating in the short-to-intermediate area of the field, recording over half of his 106 yards after the catch. It’s also worth keeping in mind that he was often put in one-on-one situations with Texans DE J.J. Watt (9.3).
– It’s been about a year since we’ve seen ILB Derrick Johnson (+4.5) suit up for meaningful snaps, and this game should be a lesson to those who thought his torn Achilles last season would slow down the 32-year-old linebacker. Recording a team-high six defensive stops, Johnson was seemingly always around the ball, tallying a sack for good measure. Even when he wasn’t making waves on the stat sheet, Johnson was a terror, like on a screen pass late in the third quarter where he managed to lay out both Texans LG Jeff Adams (-1.4) and C Ben Jones (-1.0) in one move, allowing ILB Josh Mauga (-0.1) an easy stop on third down.
– It was a quiet day for C Mitch Morse (+3.4), both on and off the stat sheet; for an offensive lineman, that’s a positive note. The second round rookie surrendered nothing in the pass game, and was battled to a draw, at worst, in the run game for most of the contest. If Morse can keep up this level of play for the rest of the season, it will help ease the loss of C Rodney Hudson this past offseason.
OLB Justin Houston (+4.5)
ILB Derrick Johnson (+4.5)
C Mitch Morse (+3.4)
NT Jaye Howard (+1.7)
S Husain Abdullah (+1.7)
– You can try all you want to scheme him out of the game with quick passes, screens, and runs to the opposite side, but at the end of the day DE J.J. Watt (+9.3) is simply going to make an impact in one way or another. Recording seven pressures (two sacks), Watt was no slouch in run defense, earning nearly half of his +9.3 overall grade when the Chiefs kept the ball on the ground. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year is showing every sign of being able to retain his crown, tallying eight total stops.
– He isn’t quite yet the generational talent he was billed to be, but ROLB Jadeveon Clowney (+1.2) had a solid day despite a limited snap count that saw 12 Houston defenders on the field more than he was. He wasn’t much of a factor rushing the passer, recording a single pressure, yet his run defense was strong enough to overcome that as he tallied three defensive stops in just 30 total snaps. There’s little reason to think he won’t improve as he finds his stride this season and his snap count rises.
– QB Brian Hoyer (-1.4) was signed this offseason to be part of the quarterback competition in Houston. Despite being given the start, he eventually made way for Ryan Mallet (+0.3) once the game was all but out of hand. He was best in the intermediate area of the field (10 of13 for 179 yards) and played reasonably well overall, outside of a couple of devastating turnovers deep in Houston territory that led directly to two Kansas City touchdowns. Houston will need better ball security from its quarterback, whoever that may be, if they want to win against the better teams in the NFL. If they can sure up their QB situation, that there’s no reason to think they can’t at least compete in every game this season.
DE J.J. Watt (+9.3)
ROLB Jadeveon Clowney (+1.2)
WR Nate Washington (+1.2)
RG Brandon Brooks (+1.1)
WR DeAndre Hopkins (+0.9)