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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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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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