ReFo: Texans @ Raiders, Week 2
In a battle of two teams that were among the worst in the league a year ago, it’s clear after two weeks of 2014, that the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders are headed in opposite directions.
The Texans’ offensive line set the tone from the outset as they dominated the Raiders’ front-seven on their way to picking up 188 yards on the ground, while quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played an efficient game to complement the running attack, finishing at +1.8 overall. The defense forced four Raiders turnovers as Houston rode the old-school approach of running the ball and winning the turnover battle.
As for Oakland, there are some concerns up front defensively, particularly regarding their free agent acquisitions of Justin Tuck, Antonio Smith, and Lamarr Woodley. All three were controlled in the running game while providing mere glimpses of the pass rushing presence they were expected to add to the Oakland defense. Rookie QB Derek Carr showed signs of hope with some impressive throws, but he still had a few rookie mistakes, throwing into coverage for an interception by cornerback Kareem Jackson and getting away with another errant throw that Jackson dropped.
Here’s a look at the other key performances from Sunday afternoon’s game.
Houston Texans – Performances of Note
Offensive Line: +9.4 Run Blocking
Breakdown: It was a strong team effort up front for the Texans as all five offensive lineman graded positively in the running game, including four of the five at +2.0 or better. Whether controlling the line of scrimmage or opening holes at the second level, the Houston offensive line was a huge factor in their jumping out to a 17-0 lead and never relinquishing control of the game.
Signature Play: Running back Arian Foster’s 5-yard run at the end of the first quarter was a well-blocked play as the Texans ran “power” out of the shotgun with right tackle Derek Newton getting good movement on defensive tackle Justin Ellis while left guard Ben Jones pulled around to seal outside linebacker Sio Moore and tight end Ryan Griffin was doing his part by driving Justin Tuck about 4 yards off the ball.
Kareem Jackson, CB: +0.1
Breakdown: It wasn’t a perfect day for Jackson who whiffed on a tackle on a quick pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore but he posted a strong +0.6 coverage grade, including a big interception early in the second quarter. Jackson had two vertical routes with which to contend on the play but he did a nice job of reading Carr and staying on top of tight end Michal Rivera’s seam route to make a play on the ball and thwart any comeback attempt from the Raiders.
Signature Stat: Jackson was targeted 11 times, surrendering only four catches for 30 yards to go with his interception and another pass defensed.
J.J. Watt, DE: -1.7
Breakdown: Despite making all of the highlight shows with his 1-yard touchdown reception, it wasn’t a great day for All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt who was neutralized by the Raiders. Oakland ran away from him for the most part and they certainly gave him extra attention all afternoon, but that’s nothing new for Watt whose biggest impact came when he was left unblocked late in the game to get a hit on Carr and force an errant throw for an interception.
Signature Play: While Oakland ran away from Watt for the most part, they did have some success when going at him, such as the 13:31 mark of the third quarter when right tackle Khalif Barnes moved him right out of the hole on Darren McFadden’s 7-yard gain.
Oakland Raiders – Performances of Note
Justin Tuck, DE: -2.6 and Antonio Smith, DE: -3.5
Breakdown: Given how well the Texans’ offensive line played, there had to be someone on the opposite end of it, and the main culprits were free agent defensive ends Justin Tuck and Antonio Smith. They were constantly sealed out of the action throughout the day with Tuck straight blown off the ball a couple of times.
Signature Plays: Two plays stand out for Tuck, the first wasn’t even a positive play for the offense, but while his teammates were busy stopping Foster for no gain on a goal line run early in the first quarter, Tuck found himself about four yards deep in the end zone. The aforementioned mauling at the hands of Ryan Griffin is another play that stuck out.
Miles Burris, ILB: -5.8
Breakdown: We’re often big proponents of pointing out the lying nature of tackle stats, but in this case, Burris finishing with two solo tackles while the starting safeties finished with 22 is a pretty good indicator of what happened in the game. Last week, Burris did a nice job working downhill in the running game, but against Houston he was dominated at the second level and was kept away from the point of attack throughout the afternoon.
Signature Stat: Foster ran right by Burris on his 41-yard gain in the first quarter as Oakland’s fill-in linebacker was unable to shed the block from left guard Ben Jones.
Khalil Mack, OLB: +4.4
Breakdown: One of the lone bright spots on the Oakland defense, Mack showed well in all aspects of the game, grading at +2.2 against the run, +1.5 as a pass rusher, and +0.5 in coverage. He had a couple of impressive pass rushes against left tackle Duane Brown and he was constantly making plays around the line of scrimmage in the running game.
Signature Stats: Mack picked up a hit, hurry, and a batted pass on 18 pass rushes and he added four stops in the running game, tied for the league lead this week among 3-4 outside linebackers.
PFF Game Ball
The Texans’ offensive line gets the collective game ball for their efforts in the running game.
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