HOU-NE grades: Patriots dominate Texans in shutout win
New England Patriots 27, Houston Texans 0
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Patriots’ Thursday night win over the Texans:
Quarterback grade: Jacoby Brissett, 44.0
Not much needed from rookie QB
At first glance it may not have looked like a poor performance, but it was far from good for Jacoby Brissett on the passing side. Ten of Brissett’s 11 completions game on passes targeted under 10 yards from the line of scrimmage. On his seven passes targeted 10-plus yards downfield, he completed just one, and he had a pass on a crossing route to tight end Martellus Bennett that should have been picked off by Houston CB Jonathan Joseph in the end zone. On the plus side, Brissett did complete two of his four passes when under pressure and earned an above-average grade in that facet. Brissett’s biggest impact clearly came as a runner with his one touchdown run, and another good run on an option that picked up a first down.
Top offensive grades:
LT Nate Solder, 78.4
WR Julian Edelman, 76.9
FB James Develin, 75.9
WR Danny Amendola, 72.2
WR Malcolm Mitchell, 72.0
Blount carries the load in Patriots’ win
Despite LeGarrette Blount topping the 100-yard mark, the Patriots’ offensive line didn’t block all that well against Houston. Blount gained 84 of his 105 yards after contact, meaning he averaged less than one yard per carry before contact on the night. The line performed a little better in pass protection, where they allowed Brissett to be pressured on just five of 22 dropbacks. At the skill positions, tight end Rob Gronkowski had a minimal impact as a receiver. He ran just two routes all game, and Bennett took the majority of snaps at tight end, while Gronkowski eases back into playing time. Bennett had a couple of nice blocks in the run game, but he had just two five-yard catches as a receiver on three targets.
Top defensive grades:
LB Jamie Collins, 95.8
ED Trey Flowers, 79.7
S Devin McCourty, 79.0
S Duron Harmon, 78.2
CB Malcolm Butler, 76.3
Welcome to the Jamie Collins Show
It was definitely a collective effort for the Pats — their secondary deserves a good deal of credit, as not a single player there had a bad game – but this writeup will be all about one Jamie Collins. His eight stops were the third-most of any linebacker in a game this year, and he did it all without missing a tackle, something the other two can’t boast. His interception early in the game was an exceptional break on the ball, as he was dropping in the deep middle of their Tampa-2 coverage on the play. In his coverage, Collins only allowed 3.4 yards per target and a quarterback rating of 41.3.
Quarterback grade: Brock Osweiler, 43.7
Osweiler delivers his first dud of the season
We saw a few poor performances from Osweiler in his limited time in Denver, and now we have seen his first with the Texans. Osweiler couldn’t move the ball whatsoever on Thursday night, and by the end of the game he looked completely rattled. The Texans quarterback couldn’t find any favorable matchups down the field and continued to hit closely covered checkdowns. Through two weeks, Osweiler’s average depth of target was 12.5 yards down the field. On Thursday it was 7.2, and he didn’t hit a single ball aimed over 20 yards downfield.
Top offensive grades:
WR DeAndre Hopkins, 78.0
C Greg Mancz, 75.3
TE Ryan Griffin, 72.6
G Xavier Su’a-Filo, 72.3
T Chris Clark, 67.3
Houston’s playmakers get grounded
There wasn’t really one person or unit on the Texans roster that you could point to and say “this is why they didn’t score any points.” It was a collective effort, with no one outside of wideout DeAndre Hopkins coming close to making any plays. Right tackle Derek Newton couldn’t block Pats edge rusher Jabaal Sheard until they started giving him help almost every snap, and not a single player on the offensive line graded above-average as a run-blocker. Add to that four dropped passes, and you have the perfect storm of offensive futility.
Top defensive grades:
DT D.J. Reader, 81.9
DT Vince Wilfork, 77.8
CB Kevin Johnson, 77.6
CB Kareem Jackson, 73.1
DE Christian Covington, 70.2
Game plan to stop Watt works
J.J. Watt is normally the foundation of the Texans’ defense, but he had little impact in the game. The Patriots did an excellent job to minimize his impact through scheme, regularly calling run plays away from Watt’s alignment and often double-teaming him — and triple-teaming him on at least one occasion in pass protection. Watt had one run stop on 28 plays in run defense, and one pressure on 22 pass rushes — the latter of which came on a nice stunt that left him unblocked. Even when Watt was drawing multiple blockers in pass protection, his teammates failed to take advantage, pressuring Brissett on just five of 22 dropbacks. D-linemen Vince Wilfork and D.J. Reader did a decent job of clogging inside running lanes, as they combined for seven run stops, but linebackers and defensive backs didn’t hold up their end when runners managed to get through to the second level.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Patriots LB Jamie Collins
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