Game Notes: Texans, Colts, Jags, Chiefs

This off-season, we spent some time watching each and every NFL team again, trying to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses with players we might have missed in the rush of the regular season. The intention was to feel more confident in our analysis for what turned out to be our biggest player profiles ever.We spent more time on some teams than on others, and even the teams we spent the most time on we were only able to watch a handful of games. But we thought it might be cool to publish a series of blogs detailing what we saw from the teams we watched with our raw notes.

These notes were never intended for publication, so forgive grammatical errors or the occasional poor language. Nor were they intended to be comprehensive, or definitive takes on fringe players (especially WRs, who are difficult to watch on TV angles). We simply thought it’d be a neat way to show a little extra insight into some of the players that we might not have felt like we had a great grip on this season.

Houston Texans

Week 2 – @Mia

Matt Schaub
- Texans came out throwing.
- First drive stalled inside the 5 when Dolphins got pressure on Schaub, forced him to throw it away.
- Texans established run on first drive then brought out the play action.
- Dolphins got pressure early and were able to throw the passing game out of rhythm.
- A lot of the plays he made early came on the run… example 2nd quarter short TD to Daniels.
- Not a lot of room for error… shortarmed an out route about 20 yards down the field to Andre. Arm strength issues evident on that play. Andre open.
- Dolphins pressure was all over Schaub in this game.

Arian Foster
- Was inactive Week One. First carry of the season classic Foster. Just glides through small hole for 14 yards.
- What you notice about Foster is that his cuts/reads sometimes surprise you… he finds room where there doesn’t appear to be any.
- No wasted movement… no dancing. Every jump, cut, juke has a purpose.
- He’s one of those players who is so smooth he looks slow… but before you know it he’s picked up 10 yards.
- Left this game injured… but he was spectacular when he played.

Ben Tate
- Started Houston’s second series… opened with 13-yard reception and 15-yard run
- Not nearly as natural a receiver as Foster, but he can contribute there if they need him too
- Not as smooth as Foster, but I think he absorbs more contact. “Handcuff” is the best way to describe him.
- He actually looks faster than Foster, but I think that’s because his movement isn’t as “gliding.”
- Texans will use him as the “closer”… had a bunch of 4Q carries.

Jacoby Jones
- 31 yards on first possession… Schaub rolled out and found Jones between coverage. Jones came from far slot to near sideline… great playcall to get mismatch, good concentration from Jones who adjusted to tipped ball by S Yeremiah Bell.
- Great punt return 1st quarter… you imagine he’s a frustrating player for the coaches because he clearly has the talent to be almost a game-changing player but he disappears.

Andre Johnson
- Texans tried to scheme him away from CB Vontae Davis when possible.
- Got about six inches of separation from CB Davis 43 yards 2nd quarter, play action got single coverage. Great throw by Schaub, fantastic concentration from Andre.
- 4th quarter TD went right behind CB Noah Carroll… Carroll must have thought he had help, easy TD, total bust from S Reshad Jones, who looked lost.

Owen Daniels
- Split out wide on the Texans’ second play from scrimmage, 10-yard gain against S Jones who was late getting over.
- Schaub missed him for TD second series… Daniels released after blocking and Schaub floated it over his head as he was falling away.
- 2nd quarter TD a good play by Schaub to roll away from pressure and Daniels to notice what was happening and come back to the ball, good chemistry.

James Casey
- I’m surprised we didn’t hear more from this guy this year. He had a 23-yard catch called back by penalty, but he came out of a three-point stance in the backfield as the up back in an I and ran down the seam. Really athletic. They can move him around.

Week 4 – Pit

Matt Schaub
-Patient with poise in the pocket. Good protection up front. Sees the field. Can step up into the pocket and deliver throws with confidence.
-Impressively delivered passes into tight windows early in the game, although penalties took some plays off the board.
-Passing game limited in this game. A lot of play-action, working off successful run game. Lost Andre Johnson in middle of the 2nd quarter.
-Missed wide open Foster in corner of end zone on 3rd down. Ended up scrambling and delivering the ball to him late and high. Texans had to settle for FG.
-Gets the ball out with a quick release but doesn’t necessarily put a lot on it downfield. Still hit Daniels in stride downfield.

Arian Foster
-Unbelievable ability to stick his foot in the ground and make the right cutting the Texans’ zone blocking scheme. Explodes through the hole and has great vision and patience. Offensive line effective in creating holes.
-Keeps his feet driving after contact and can break tackles. Falls forward.
-Almost impossible to defend when he cuts back. So explosive and quick.
-Playing this game after being limited by hamstring injury early in the season. Ended up with 30 carries after Tate limped off early.
-Looks natural as a receiver out of the backfield.
-Ripped the Steeler defense apart on first possession, largely responsible for Texans taking nearly 11 minutes off the clock on opening scoring drive.
-Runs with incredible balance. Keeps plays alive and bounces to the outside even when there’s no room up the middle. Avoided tackle by Troy Polamalu in the backfield with great juke, then bounced the other way for big pickup.
-Later agility is almost impossible to match, especially for a guy his size.
-Controlled the game with the offensive line in the first half. Texans dominated time of possession, and Texans made it look easy stringing together momentum against Steeler run defense, which is very, very rare.
-Just missed leaping catch in corner of end zone after play broke down. Was wide open, but Schaub was late and ball went high off his fingers.
-Made long TD run look easy. Cut back across the field and outran everybody. Daniels sealed the edge.

Ben Tate
-Not as sharp of a runner as Foster, but gets momentum going downhill. Runs hard and is tough to defend in the Texans’ blocking scheme.
-Limped off the field on first drive after only 2 carries.

Andre Johnson
-Runs precise routes. Clearly tough to handle physically because of his size and agility. Burned Ike Taylor easily on an out pattern to pick up a 1st down on 3rd down.
-Hurt his hamstring in the 2nd quarter after catching 4 passes

Jacoby Jones.
-Silent most of the game. Got a deep ball down the sidelines late, but didn’t get separation and ball was tipped away with good coverage.

Owen Daniels
-Easy TD on first drive. Steelers sold out against the run at goal line, Schaub ran play-action with Foster (who had been rolling), and Daniels released from block and was uncovered out to the left.
-Tough to handle after the catch because of his strength and agility.
-Very versatile player who can also be a threat downfield, which the Texans needed when Johnson went down.
-Effective blocker, sealed edge on big Foster cutback for TD.

Joel Dreessen
-Has a bit of speed. Texans set up a perfectly blocked screen to him out wide on a play-action. Dreessen peeled out from blocking and got downfield for a 14-yard pickup.
-Called for two holding penalties on the Texans’ first drive.

———-

Indianapolis Colts

Week 2 – Cle

Kerry Collins
- Started this game for the Colts.
- Colts used a lot of shotgun, three-wide, and stack concepts, trying to create quick strikes.
- Problem with some of the quick strikes is that Collins was either rushed in his throws or innacurate… doesn’t work in this offense.
- Collins was particularly poor in this game.

Joseph Addai
- Colts’ line generated absolutely no push in the ground game early, leading to Colts putting Carter in. Line improved as the game went on.
- Only back who played in this game who was somewhat capable of making a defender miss in the open field. Utilized a jump-stutter step well. Understands cutbacks.

Delone Carter
- Colts’ line struggled in the run game early, so Carter was used a lot because he would absorb contact and move forward.
- Doesn’t have much lateral movement.
- Difference in speed between Carter and Addai is palatable. Carter much slower.
- One thing you notice about Carter is that he can occasionally “get skinny” and get himself through a crease to create more yardage.

Reggie Wayne
- His understanding of coverage and route-running is still apparent. Fantastic at giving himself space. Victimized Sheldon Brown twice in the first half. And once late.
- He can still play. He might not be dominant because he can’t run past anyone, but if he follows Peyton he’ll produce.

Pierre Garcon
- Clearly the only Colt receiver capable of getting vertical.
- Browns were more concerned with him than Wayne… he drew the matchup with top CB Haden, actually drew three penalties from Joe Haden.

Austin Collie
- Almost always aligned in the slot. When he was on the outside, he motioned into a stack or into the slot.

Dallas Clark
- Separated from the formation, quick passes.
- Colts ran a lot of two-TE sets with Brody Eldridge as the other… they must value him as a blocker and view Clark/Tamme as similar players
- Not a guy who gains a lot of separation against safeties. You watch Clark and you say “He needs Peyton to succeed.”

———-

Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 2 – @NYJ

Luke McCown
- Started this game for Jags, sacked for safety on the first drive.
- Was pressured early, never recovered. Threw off his back foot all game, shortarming throws.
- Made perfect deep throw to Dillard in 2nd quarter, was picked on a horrendous throw next play downfield to Thomas. Threw ball between three defenders (ill-advised) and sailed it right to Antonio Cromartie.
- Second INT was miserable, never saw S Eric Smith playing zone in the middle of the field underneath WR Thomas.
- Threw INTs on consecutive pass attempts in the 3rd quarter, both when he was rushed. INT #4 resembled #2… didn’t see zone coverage underneath receiver across middle. There was nowhere to throw the ball.
- Horrendous performance from top to bottom.
- Benched for Blaine Gabbert in 4th quarter.

Maurice Jones-Drew
- Little to no success running up the middle. Whenever he gained yardage when between the tackles, you felt that he earned every yard. Jet defense was stifling in this respect.
- MJD had to get skinny and run through tackles when running between the tackles.
- Don’t think he was tackled on first contact once all game.
- Given how good the Jet D was, a great performance overall.
- To get him going, Jags ran pitch plays, shovel passes, and draws.

Mike Thomas
- Played in the slot. Clearly Jags wanted him away from Darrell Revis.
- Low to the ground, so he moves pretty powerfully. Can run through arm tackles. Strong guy.
- Only WR you noticed the Jags had in this game.

———-

Week 2 – @DET

Matt Cassel
- Chiefs came out running the ball incessantly, even when Charles went out. Clearly didn’t want to subject Cassel to Lions’ pass rush early.
- Underthrew ball on 45-yard gain to Bowe in 2nd quarter… good adjustment by Bowe. Arm strength limitation apparent. Could have been a TD.
- 2nd quarter INT a good throw between three defenders… went off Bowe’s hands and picked.
- Cassel’s problem in this game was mistakes when taking chances… late 2nd quarter INT was thrown high and behind a wide-open Jerheme Urban.
- Downfield throws bordered on wildly inaccurate in this game… that’s a concern.
- Chief concerns with Lion rush came to fruition in second half. Cassel lost fumble leading to Lions TD on sack, then picked up when rushing a throw under pressure in 4th quarter.
- Miserable overall game. Chiefs unable to get anything going, and Cassel really struggled.

Jamaal Charles
- Injured on his second carry of this game. Chiefs lost their offensive soul… gameplan got much more conservative, less exciting when he went out.

Thomas Jones
- Became the Chiefs’ “sustaining” runner when Charles went down, splitting time with Le’Ron McClain.
- Still physical, but you can see why his effectiveness has waned. His first step is slower and he isn’t capable of making defenders miss in the open field.
- Nothing special about his game at all.

Dexter McCluster
- Actually started this game as a third TE. Came around behind Cassel and picked up 22 yards on an TE around. Nifty playcall… stuff like this was destroyed when Charles got hurt because McCluster had to become the “Charles-like” player.
- Clearly a satellite “gimmick” player miscast as a traditional RB… this hurt his effectiveness and the coaches’ ability to put him in a better position to make plays. When they tried, effectiveness of the plays limited because defense didn’t have to worry about Charles. In other words, he’s not a 15-touch type of guy.
- Ball security issues could be a problem.

Dwayne Bowe
- Great feel against zone. Doesn’t try to do too much, understands when he has space, presents an open, big target for Cassel.
- Beat defense for 45-yard gain late 2nd quarter. Had to adjust to underthrown ball. Could have been a TD with a better throw.
- Throw off his fingertips picked off 2nd quarter… he’s had some issues with inexplicable drops. Good throw by Cassel.
- Dropped a deep ball in the 4th quarter… might have heard footsteps. Another good throw by Cassel. When Cassel is your QB, margin for error is smaller and Bowe HAS to make a play like that.

Category: Joe Dolan

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