PFF Preview: Texans @ Raiders, Week 2
Coming off a disappointing 2-14 season, in Oakland this Sunday the Houston Texans have the opportunity to match 2013’s 2-0 start.
Expected to be better than they were a year ago, Houston shut down Washington last week, thanks to some strong work rushing the passer and a top-tier performance from J.J. Watt (+7.4). Doubters may point out that the Redskins aren’t the stiffest of competition, and with a relatively easy schedule ahead, it may be a while before the Texans can prove that they’re any better than last year. That upcoming schedule is a blessing, though, as Houston is expected to be without top selection Jadeveon Clowney for six weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee.
Things are a bit different in Oakland. The front office finally dealt with all the bad contracts of old, but the result of those contracts and the nasty habit of trading away draft picks was a lack of young talent on the roster. This was compounded by an inability to attract young free agent talent during the offseason, even though they possessed considerable cap space. Instead, Oakland pulled in veteran free agents, avoiding the mistakes of the past by keeping salaries reasonable and contract lengths short. They’ll also be hoping 2013 draft picks who’ve stepped into starting roles, Khalil Mack, Gabe Jackson, and Derek Carr, can have an impact.
We’ll miss out on the expected ‘Schaub vs. his old team’ and ‘Mack vs. Clowney’ matchups, but there will be plenty else to watch for as the rebuilt Raider O-line schemes to handle Watt and the Texans hope to keep their ground game churning against an Oakland front that gave up more than 200 rushing yards to the Jets last week.
Derek Newton – For just the eighth time in his career, Newton played every snap against the Redskins. He responded with a +5.7 grade, highlighted by a perfect day in pass protection.
Andre Johnson – He may be overshadowed by younger options elsewhere in the league, but at 33 Johnson is still one of the best wideouts in the game. He’s currently fifth in Yards per Route Run at 3.88 after finishing ninth a year ago amid disastrous quarterback play.
Whitney Mercilus – He tallied two hits and a hurry on a limited snap count last week, earning his first pass rushing grade ‘in the green’ (+1.7) since Week 12 of last year.
Charles Woodson – Last week Woodson earned his highest game grade (+2.5) since returning to Oakland, recording the Raiders’ only interception and forcing two of only five incompletions thrown by the Jets.
Derek Carr – A -3.8 passing grade in Week 1 is not what you want to see from your starting quarterback, but not all of that is on Carr. Against the Jets, he faced pressure on 16 of his 34 drop-backs — the third highest rate in the league.
Linebackers – The starting four linebackers combined for six missed tackles last week. That was a major contributor in allowing 6.3 yards per carry, a figure that balloons to 6.8 if you remove the Jets’ two kneel downs.
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