Mike Meltser Mailbag - The Bye Week

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November 08, 2018 - 4:00 pm

Bill O'Brien rarely criticizes players in the media, so the veiled references about D'Onta Foreman's conditioning are a red flag. When asked about Andre Hal's quick recovery (from cancer!) a few weeks, O'Brien mentioned how impressed he was that Hal was able to stay in such good shape, and then basically invited the media to speculate on other guys who didn't stay in shape. The natural guess on this roster is Foreman, who still hasn't been cleared to practice after 6 weeks on the PUP list.

I do think Foreman will be back at some point this season. The attrition can get tough on NFL teams later in the season, and fresh legs always help. I will take a guess and say that Foreman is back for the Week 13 Cleveland game at NRG Stadium.

 

Like the side view mirror in your car, sometimes things are not exactly as they appear. The Texans mix up play calls more than it may seem on the television screen. The run plays, even if a lot of first down calls are runs, are not all one and the same.

I do think that O'Brien shifted his offensive philosophy for this team after the Dallas game. Houston now leads the NFL in rushing attempts. He's trying to keep Deshaun Watson as healthy as possible, helping out his offensive line, and trying to increase time of possession to save the defense a little bit. It's like a more explosive philosophy of the 2016 team that went 9-7 and won the AFC South.

It does make sense. The OL has major mismatches on a regular basis, and probably won't hold up if Watson is passing 40-45 times a game. The gameplans against Jacksonville and Denver should be able to work against most of the remaining opponents on the schedule, but wouldn't be enough in a playoff game. There, O'Brien will have to open things up more, including using Watson as a runner more often.

 

Kelemete! I think Senio has been alright. Via Pro Football Focus, his pass blocking grade is near 70 (decent), while his run blocking grade is below average. That seems to fit the eye test. With Zach Fulton's injury from a few weeks back, Kelemete has been able to at least provide some stability at the other guard spot.

Looking ahead, this is a guy who hopefully can use the bye week to get as healthy as possible. We've seen 64 down on the turf a few times in recent weeks, which makes you wonder how healthy he is. 

 

Good question. This now marks the second time in the O'Brien era where things looked incredibly bleak (early-mid season 2015, first 3 weeks of 2018) only for the team to bounce back to contend for the AFC South. This is a guess on my part, but I think the coaching staff wasn't thrilled about starting at the Patriots in Week 1. While it was a great early test, the odds of an AFC team winning IN New England against Tom Brady have been staggeringly low in the last decade. 

Like a boxing match, it felt that the Week 1 loss, combined with the fake-punt touchdown and the strange effectiveness of Tennessee's Wildcat package in Week 2 kind of staggered the Texans. I wonder how the year would have changed with an easier home opponent in Week 1 like the Bills or the Jets. 

Other thoughts:

  • With Will Fuller out for the rest of the season, getting Keke Coutee back healthy is imperative for the Texans to reach their ceiling on offense. They need his speed and quickness as a complement to DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas.
  • The Colts worry me more than the Jaguars and Titans in the division. Andrew Luck has been awesome for about 6 weeks now, and their offensive line has been a significant upgraded. 
  • Trevor Daniel has done a really nice job in a quiet fashion. He's 3rd in the NFL so far this year at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line.
  • Here is a non-exhaustive list of players that will be important for this team to reach its ceiling over the second half of the season: Coutee, Foreman, Julie'n Davenport, Zach Cunningham, Aaron Colvin, and Watson.

 

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