CODY STOOTS

Pro Football Focus and the Texans Week 4

Pro Football Focus and the Texans Week 4
Andrew Luck is back on the field but did not impress last week. Joe Robbins/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. You can join Pro Football Focus here.

Jordan Thomas - 90.4 Overall Grade (Season)

He currently has the best overall grade of any Texans player on the offense and he has been a pleasant surprise for the Texans as a late-round rookie. He rumbled for a big gain of 39 yards in the first quarter. He's been serviceable blocking and his skills as a former wideout have been put to use in the passing game. He should be seeing more time for the Texans. 

Martinas Rankin - 50.1 Pass Blocking

The Texans left tackle allowed eight pressures against the Giants and added on two penalties as well. It was a performance he would like to forget. There were a couple of times he ended up on his rump via the pass rush. He has to be better because there isn't an option that is better than him unless they try Davenport back here, but I can't imagine he would be much better. He struggled as well and had twice as many penalties. 

J.J. Watt - 92.4 Overall Grade

No reason to be shocked here. Watt had a monster game, but there were flashes the week before in stopping the rushing attack of the Titans. 

Zach Fulton - 79.2 Pass Block

Fulton is already better than Jeff Allen was as a member of the Texans. I was worried about Fulton because he was coming over in the same way Allen did, but he's been impressive enough early. He boasts the second highest pass blocking grade on the team behind Greg Mancz. 

Zach Fulton - 31.5 Run Block

Fulton posted the lowest run blocking grade of any of the Texans players but I am not picking on him. No one was good at run blocking and the Giants are stout up the middle so it makes sense someone has a bad grade. 

Andrew Luck - 54.7 Overall Grade

Luck is coming off his worst game of the season against the Eagles. He threw for just 164 yards and averaged just 4.1 yards per attempt. His performance has dropped each game and it there has to be worry associated with his repaired and seemingly healthy shoulder. Luck has been great against the blitz grade-wise as he's almost 14 points higher than when he isn't blitzed. 

Margus Hunt - 80.2

A former second-round pick who is finally displaying the traits that made him the 53rd overall pick in the 2013 draft. He is the 36th highest graded defensive lineman in football. The Colts invested in him when he was a low-risk high reward player and it's reaping the benefits. With the Texans struggling on the offensive line, in seemingly both running and passing the ball, Hunt is poised for a big day if the Texans can't neutralize the big Estonian defender. 

As always, you can join Pro Football Focus here.

 

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It's not time to panic, yet. Composite Getty Image.

This is not a column for fanboys or sugarcoating. To this point in the season the Astros stink like rotten eggs. They stink like Angel Hernandez’s umpiring. They stink like Bill O'Brien's general manager skills. The Astros are a bad team right now. That’s notably different from being a bad team. Their 4-10 record is well-earned and it is definitely possible that the Astros’ run of high quality and annual playoff appearances crashes and burns this season. But it’s laughable to declare so after just 14 games of the 162 scheduled have been played.

Last June the Astros had a lousy window in which they went 3-10. In August they had a 4-8 funk. In September it was a 3-9 stretch of collapse. The 2022 World Series Champions had a 3-8 hiccup in April, and a 2-6 blotch overlapping July and August that included getting swept in a three-game series by the then and now awful Oakland A’s.

Now the Astros are back home (Oh No!) for six games, three vs. the Rangers then three with the Braves. The Rangers lead the American League West but are just 7-6, so despite their cellar-dwelling status, the Astros are just three and a half games out of first. A winning homestand is obviously the goal. No, really. 3-3 would be ok, even though that would just about clinch a losing record heading into May.

Mandatory aside: spectacular weather is the Friday night forecast. Stop being stubborn and lame, Astros. Open the roof! I don’t mean just for the postgame fireworks.

On the mend?

The Astros’ track record of downplaying pitching injuries that turned out to be major certainly causes angst as we await Framber Valdez’s return from a sore elbow. If Valdez ultimately winds up out for months, the Astros’ starting rotation is in deep trouble. Even more so if upon the approaching delayed start to his season, 41-year-old Justin Verlander pitches to his age in terms of results and/or durability. However, if Valdez is ok within a month and JV is solid, those two, and Cristian Javier can stabilize the rotation quite nicely.

The Astros started three guys in the last four games who belong in the minor leagues. It was a sad sign of the times that the Astros were reduced to calling up Blair Henley to make the start Monday in Arlington. Except for Rangers fans and Astros haters, it grew uncomfortable watching Henley give up four hits, walk three, record just one out, and wind up charged with seven earned runs. But it’s not Henley’s fault that he was thrust into a role for which he was utterly unqualified.

Last season at Double-A Corpus Christi, Henley’s earned run average was 5.06. Because of the crummy state of the Astros’ farm system, Henley failed up to Triple-A Sugar Land to start this season. After one not good start for the Space Cowboys, “Hey, go get out big leaguers Blair!” Henley turns 27 next month, he is not a prospect of any note. If he never again pitches in the majors Henley forever carries a 135.00 ERA.

But you know what? It was still a great day for the guy. Even if undeserved, Henley made “The Show.” For one day on the Astros’ 26-man roster, Henley made over four thousand dollars. To make him eligible for call up, the Astros first had to put Henley on their 40-man roster and sign him to a split contract. That means that until/unless the Astros release him, Henley’s AAA salary jumps from approximately $36,000 for the season to over 60K.

Lastly, while Henley’s ERA could remain 135.00 in perpetuity, at least he’s no Fred Bruckbauer. In 1961 Bruckbauer made his big league debut and bade his big league farewell in the same game. He faced four batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits and one walk. Career ERA: Infinity! Bruckbauer is the most recent of the more than a dozen pitchers to retire with the infinity ERA.

Spencer Arrighetti’s debut start went much better. For two innings, before it unraveled in a seven run Royals third. Arrighetti has good stuff, but not great stuff. Control has been an issue for him in the minor leagues. Without better command Arrighetti cannot be a plus starter in the majors.

Then there’s Hunter Brown. We could go decades without seeing another pitcher give up nine runs and 11 hits in two-thirds of an inning as Brown did Thursday. It had never happened in MLB history! To this point, Brown is an overhyped hope. ERA last July: 5.92, August: 6.23, September 1 on: 8.74. Three starts into 2024: 16.43.

Jose Abreu watch

It's still early enough in the season that even just a couple of big games can markedly improve a stat line but Jose Abreu continues to look washed up at the plate. Three hits in 37 at bats (.081 batting average), with the most recent hit a questionable official scoring decision. Manager Joe Espada has already dropped Abreu from fifth in the lineup to sixth, then seventh, then eighth. Two more slots down to go, Joe! Continuing to act like Jon Singleton could be a competent bat in the lineup is just silly though.

Catch the weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week now generally goes up after Sunday’s game (second part released Tuesday, sometimes a third part Wednesday) via YouTube: stone cold stros - YouTubewith the complete audio available via Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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