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Wade Smith breaks down Houston Texans left tackle, Matt Kalil

The good, the bad, and his overall evaluation

March 23, 2019 - 11:11 am

by former Houston Texans Pro Bowl guard, Wade Smith.

A lot of Texans fans that follow me on Twitter and/or listen to me on SportsRadio 610 wanted my opinion on the recent signing of Matt Kalil. I was told at a young age that, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.”

Y’all asked, and so you shall now receive. 

In 2018 Kalil missed the entire season with a knee injury he sustained during forgettable preseason. That being said, I focused on his 2017 campaign for this review. 

I watched six games in 2017...
BILLS, SAINTS, LIONS, EAGLES, VIKINGS, and PACKERS.

Here We Go...

Matt Kalil

  • Highly regarded 1st round pick from USC.
  • Checks the boxes height/length/pedigree.
  • Started every game for the Vikings from 2012-2016 until a hip injury caused him to miss the final 14 games of the 16’ season.
  • Signed big deal with the Panthers going into the 2017 season despite that injury and some up and down play w/ Vikings.
  • 2013 Pro Bowl Rookie yr. (*2nd Alternate)

Early in 2017, he looked like a guy that was a smart technician that approached each play trying to figure out how to get the guy across from him blocked. Had good success position blocking and working to wall off guys. Not much explosion coming off the ball and getting after people though. I watched two games (Bills Week 2 and Saints Week 3) that Kalil couldn’t find a way to put one single defender on the ground. Not once. This would be like a point guard that didn’t log a single assist in back to back games.  No bueno.  He whiffed on multiple man-on-man blocks in the run game, surrendered 3 legit sacks (2 physically beat and 1 bc of a mental error) as well as gave up multiple pressures in those two games. Jerry Hughes (BUF), I’m sure, looks forward to playing against Kalil.

Bad Ball.

After watching the film of those two games, I read online where he stated that he was still dealing with his hip injury from the season before. I’ll take his word for it.  It makes sense from what I saw.

Against the Lions (Week 5) he looked like a guy who was a smart technician that approached each play trying to figure out in which manner he was gonna kick the guy's ass lined up across from him.  #UGottaLuvIt!   Not sure who pissed in his cereal at team breakfast that morning, but he played angrily. THAT MATT KALIL is a KEEPER. The other guy I saw from Week 2 & 3 would do nothing but frustrate you and get you beat.

Week 6 vs. Eagles

He had an OK game

Week 14 vs. Vikings

Meh

Week 15 vs. Packers

Pretty good performance 

What I like

  • He’s a good athlete that pulls and runs well in space.
  • Good quick feet and has a consistent pass set.
  • He will rarely get beat by average players or backups.
  • Takes good angles on 1st level double team blocks.
  • Long arms and uses his heavy hands in pass pro.
  • Played in a Norv Turner led offense that utilized deep drops and with a QB that had a habit of holding on to the ball longer than most. Having to deal w/ a similar set of circumstances here in Houston won’t be a shock to his system.
  • He’s a veteran that has dealt with a bunch of criticism and hasn’t been able to play football for an entire year... That should plant a big chip firmly on his shoulders.

What I don’t like

  • Tends to get his hands knocked off by good to elite pass rushers and loses his balance in pass protection. Gets his weight out over his hands, so he’s susceptible to a good inside spin move, good outside chop rip, and the double hand swipe.
  • Would think that because he’s heavy with his hands that he’d be better w/ handling speed to power or hesitation to power bull rush, but he struggles there from time to time as well.
  • Doesn’t play the game within the game as a player of his potential should be, at this stage in his career. I don’t see him changing up his pass set very often to give defenders a different look, changing up how he uses he hands, etc.
  • When he pulls on outside run plays, He doesn’t look to finish DBs on the 3rd level and will not touch a soul on those types of plays way too often.
  • Doesn’t do a good job of consistently taking the proper angles to get to Linebackers on the 2nd level. Tends to go to where LB’s are, and not where they’re going to be in the play.
  • Doesn’t consistently play with an EDGE and work to FINISH blocks.
  • He’s coming off an injury that forced him to miss the entire regular season last year; The last time he played coming off an injury, he struggled early in the following season ('17).


In summation, after watching the film, I understand why he was offered and signed a one year deal. If HEALTHY, he’s a low-risk, high-reward upgrade at LT. If he can consistently play with a chip on his shoulders, then bringing in Matt Kalil will be a STEAL. Problem is, I haven’t seen him consistently play with that aforementioned chip. One game (LIONS) out of the six I watched did I say to myself, this is why scouts/teams loved him coming out of USC. This is why he was a 1st rounder. The Texans need THAT Guy.

If the Texans get more of the same from Kalil, Julie’n Davenport or the yet-to-be-drafted rookie will likely be Texans left tackle this season. In that scenario, (health issue/no chip on shoulder) I’d see Kalil getting cut. Unless of course, he’d be ok with staying in a backup/mentoring role during what should be the prime years of his career. I don’t find that very likely at all.