PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS AND THE TEXANS

Texans defense boasts some of NFL's Best

Kareem Jackson is having a monster year. Houston Texans/Facebook

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

Usually 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. With the bye week here will we look at Texans players to this point in the season. 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

Kareem Jackson - 90.1 defensive grade

Kareem Jackson is the third best defensive back by grading when accounting for playing for 50 percent of the team's snaps. He's the eighth best defender in all of football when including all players who have played 50 percent of their team's snaps. That's incredible when you think about the conversations about moving on from him this offseason. He has taken to his new role at safety well and he has had to fill in at cornerback a ton but played well. His run defense is astonishing and he's handled coverage well this year. 

J.J. Watt - 90.1 defensive grade

He's back. He's tied with teammate Kareem Jackson as the eighth best defender in football. Watt is tearing through defenses and has an average of a sack per game which is insane when you think how far removed he is from his healthy former self that was Defensive Player of the Year. He's a monster. His run defense is among some of the best numbers in his career and 

Justin Reid - 74.8 defensive grade

Justin Reid is the seventh rated rookie overall for defenders who have played 50 percent or more of their snaps. Let that sink in. Reid has six players playing regularly better than him on defense from this rookie class. That's it. None of them were drafted behind him they were all picks in the first or second round. That's an eye-popping number. He's gotten better and better too playing more snaps and posting three of his four best grades the past three weeks. Reid has been a true steal for the Texans and it's scary to think he may be getting better. Oh, and Reid has the best tackling grade in all of football.

Deshaun Watson - 79.8 passing grade

The Texans quarterback checks in at 15th in the NFL. It makes sense considering all he has dealt with so far this season. His offensive line struggled mightily and then he was injured. He's gotten going lately though. Two of his top three grades in overall offense and passing have come in the past two weeks and with the bye coming and a new wideout to get used to Watson should be back to his improving ways against Washington. He's on his way to being a dynamic force again. 

DeAndre Hopkins - 90.9 receiving grade

The second best grade in football for players that actually play most of the snaps for their team. He's only behind Michael Thomas of the Saints but Hopkins has no drops to Thomas' three drops so let's call Hopkins the best in football. He's playing like it. No one has slowed him and even with the shaky offensive line to start the season he's shown an ability to really blow up. He is tied for second in touchdowns and third in yards and he's just spectacular and getting better. The Texans have a bonafide superstar in Hopkins and he plays like it every week. 

As always, you can join Pro Football Focus here

Plus the head coach and general manager weighed in on Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil's futures

O'Brien's commitment to familiarity could be defining moment of his power

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

What we learned from Bill O'Brien's first public discussion since he was officially named the coach and general manager.

Tim Kelly is the new play caller for the Texans offense

Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly has been with Bill O'Brien since he took over as the head coach at Penn State. Kelly followed to the NFL when O'Brien took over the Texans and before last season Kelly was named the team's offensive coordinator.

Now, for just the second time as head coach, O'Brien is handing over the play calling duties. The last time O'Brien did this was when George Godsey was promoted to offensive coordinator and the offense regressed with Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. Godsey would lose those duties and ultimately his job after the 2016 season.

This is one of the few changes to an offense that took a step back from 2018 last season. The defense was overhauled, as it should have been (more on them next), but little to no change occurred on the offense until Kelly took the headset. It would have been difficult to expect more from the offense in 2020 if nothing had changed but I believe this could be a significant change for the good.

Kelly has clearly been groomed for this position. He's stuck around as O'Brien hoarded the headset for himself when previous members of the offensive staff, like former Texans coach Sean Ryan, couldn't wait for the time O'Brien would relinquish duties. He's coached all over the offense. He's helped in implementing the offense. When he was, to me at least, clearly calling plays in the second preseason game of 2019 the Texans opened the game with a touchdown. Same in the fourth preseason game. The Texans didn't replicate that feat until week 17.

This also adds pressure to O'Brien's resume of clearly his decisions. If this backfires consider it one of the biggest failures in O'Brien's tenure. He heavily relies on people he knows and has worked with. He rarely goes outside with someone he hasn't coached with before. If Kelly isn't good, and O'Brien has to divide his attention again, consider that a strike against O'Brien.

Inside shot caller on defense too with Anthony Weaver 

With the extreme failure of the Texans defense last season, regardless of their level of talent, it was certainly time for Romeo Crennel to move on. The curious decision was, again, an internal promotion. This time defensive line coach Anthony Weaver was handed the keys to the defense.

O'Brien had high praise for Weaver and the various defensive coordinators he had worked under as a coach and player. He claimed Weaver would have his own style and he's been picking Weaver's brain about what he would do as the head man on defense for a while.

The last time O'Brien experimented with an in-house promotion for the defense was when Mike Vrabel took over in 2017 and the defense finished rated 32nd in points allowed. Despite the defensive failures, Vrabel was rewarded with a head coaching opportunity. Romeo Crennel took back over and the defense got back on track for a year before it went sideways again in 2019.

It would have made a lot of sense to go outside the organization here, but O'Brien again relied on someone he has been priming for this position it would seem. It also, like the offensive decision above, is a line on his resume. It would also be a strike on his resume if it doesn't work out.

Think of a scenario where the defense stays bad and the offense regresses again. That would be a horrible look for O'Brien the decision maker and bad for the results in 2020. But, I do like the youth movement from O'Brien. Weaver will turn 40 this year, and Kelly is in his mid-30's. The last time O'Brien tried both of these moves, it didn't work. If these two hit, O'Brien will look like a genius.

The new contract expert

This is notable as Chris Olsen has rarely made a mistake as the contract and cap expert for the Texans in his time there. His assistant will have his job now, but I can't buy O'Brien not knowing why the change was made.

If indeed this is Jack Easterby's area, he is the team's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, O'Brien brought him into the organization and it wouldn't make sense he is on equal footing as O'Brien. Whatever the reason for Olsen leaving, Krajcovic will have a tough act to follow. Speaking of contract work...

Deshaun Watson and Laremy Tunsil could break the bank

Dehsaun Watson has technically two years left on his deal, with the fourth year of the contract and the fifth-year rookie option. Laremy Tunsil is currently slated for a big raise as his fifth-year rookie option has kicked in.

For Tunsil, his price has to be extremely high. Taylor Lewan and Lane Johnson have two of the largest and best deals at the tackle position. Tunsil has significant advantages over both of those in the negotiation process. He is better than Lewan, younger, and plays left tackle unlike Johnson who plays right tackle. The Texans also moved a huge amount of draft assets to get the left tackle. Most elite player don't play on the fifth-year option. Tunsil shouldn't and likely won't.

Deshaun Watson's contract could be heavily contingent on what Patrick Mahomes gets in his new deal. The Eagles and the Rams really upset the way of doing business when they paid Carson Wentz and Jared Goff a year before first round quarterbacks traditionally get paid. Both Watson and Mahomes should be seeking new deals, and it could be a standoff between the two to see who signs first. They each have been far better than Goff and Wentz and should be paid better than both.

O'Brien thumbs up on XFL

O'Brien mentioned the kickoff rule as one he liked. The NFL has to adopt that rule. It is the best way to do kickoffs.

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