CODY STOOTS: PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS

New WR Thomas set to contribute while Texans face struggling Von Miller

Greg Mancz and the OL had a big game. Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Pro Football Focus grades each individual player's performance and assigns them a grade. All 32 teams use Pro Football Focus. 

Each week we will take a look at some of the good and bad from the Texans and a look at the upcoming opponent as well. They also do great fantasy analysis and draft coverage as well. Stats are for the previous game unless otherwise noted. You can join Pro Football Focus here

The Texans Offensive Line Pass Blocking Grades

Julie'n Davenport - 79.7

Senio Kelemete - 86.8

Nick Martin - 83.2

Greg Mancz - 80.5

Kendall Lamm - 61.2

Now, THIS is some pass protecting! The Texans allowed just one quarterback hit in the win over the Dolphins and no sacks. That's incredible considering where these guys were weeks ago. It's the highest pass block grade for Mancz at right guard and for Davenport this season. They have to maintain something close to this if the Texans are going to compete for a playoff spot and more. It's doable, they've now showcased they can pull it together. The Broncos boast the seventh highest graded pass rush in football and have two huge sack guys in Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. This isn't an easy task but success against these guys and this offensive line is for real. 

Von Miller - Defensive Grade 78.8 (Season)

Miller is in the middle of a career low year as far as Pro Football Focus grading. He's never finished below 90 in any season he's been graded and his pass rush and run defense grades are also at all-time lows. He's on pace for a career low in hurries per snap. He's doing all this while amassing eight sacks which is two off the league lead. It is important to see Bradley Chubb's development, he's the 31st best pass rusher from the edge defender spot, as he sets Miller and the Broncos up for success with his activity opposite Miller. 

Case Keenum - 70.7 Offensive Grade

The former Texans quarterback is far from his Minnesota version where he checked in 17 points better overall, but he has put together two of his better grades the past two weeks. The Broncos are starting to ask a little less of Keenum than when the season started as he is down on his attempts. Keenum has yet to play a clean game this season with an interception in all his contests and there is one thing very clear about Keenum that should alarm Broncos fans. Keenum isn't scrambling anymore. He had 21 scrambles last year keeping defenses honest and this year has just four through half the season. It isn't a huge thing but one has to wonder what else is missing from what Keenum did in Minnesota. 

Demaryius Thomas - 73.1 Offensive Grade (Season)

The Texans added Thomas at the cost of a fourth-round pick and another later pick to help with the Will Fuller injury. Thomas is in the middle of the lowest graded season of his career and was set to have the least productive year in his career since his rookie season. It will likely all change now as he goes from a crowded room of pass catchers to the clear-cut second best receiver on the Texans. Thomas has often been associated with drops and he has six this season, but just one in his last four games. He should see all his numbers get boosted with better quarterback play and more targets. He is still productive, graded out as one of the 40 best wideouts in football, and will help the Texans where injuries have hurt them. 

As always, you can join Pro Football Focus here

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

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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