EXPECT BIG THINGS

Here's why this could be the next breakout star for the Texans

Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

It was a solid rookie season in the NFL for 5th round draft pick Charles Omenihu in 2019. After a rookie year that saw him compile 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games, the Texans coaching staff is expecting a big second-year jump from the young defensive end out of the University of Texas.

"He's just becoming a more confident player, and that comes with age and maturity," new Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver said. "Every year in this league you learn a little bit more about yourself and about the guys you're playing against. He's kind of come into his own a little bit. We look forward to that paying dividends once the season starts. He is certainly not a guy who lacks confidence, and that's what you want when you have players out there with his skill set."

Last season according to Pro Football Focus, Omenihu, accumulated 32 pressures in the regular season and playoffs, leading all rookie interior defensive linemen. Omenihu goes up against center Nick Martin in practice all the time and he sees the improvements that the former Texas Longhorn has made.

"For a lot of guys, the biggest jump in the NFL is from that first to the second year, so I'm excited to see what he does this year," Martin said. "I really like what he's doing in the run game, too, especially. Obviously, he can pass rush. He's got that good length. He gets that stab into you and it's a tough move to go against."

On Thursday the Texans held a team scrimmage at NRG Stadium and Texans Head Coach and General Manager O'Brien singled out Omenihu as a player that jumped out to him playing under the lights for the first time in 2020.

"Charles Omenihu, that guy has had a really good camp for us, O'Brien said. "I think a lot of guys have really performed well in a situation where they haven't had an offseason and they've had to just really concentrate in training camp. We've got a ways to go, like I said before, but I think some guys are really trying to get better."

The Texans hope a 'really good' camp translates into a really good 2020 season for Omenihu.


Jake Asman is a national host on SportsMap Radio. You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM - 10 AM Central.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

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Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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