Week 10 Game Review - Houston Texans v. Cincinnati Bengals
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Another wild game and another big time win for the Houston Texans. I don’t know about you but could get used to winning games. Maybe just not on last minute drives.
A final score, 30 to 27, that does not tell the true story of the game. Houston’s offense was able to move the ball with ease, and the Texans defense shut down the Cincinnati explosive offense after the first drive until the 4th quarter. At one point the Houston defense forced five straight punts from the Bengal offense led by Joe Burrow and company.
Houston finished the day with 544 total net yards on offense compared to Cincinnati’s 380 total net yards. The force multiplier, (finally!), was the rushing attack led by Devin Singletary and the offensive line. 34 total attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Numbers which Houston fans are not used to seeing on the stat sheet. Houston’s offense incurred a new low of only 8.8% run stuff rate on rush attempts.
Not only did the offensive line provide open running lanes for the runningback group; the group kept Stroud clean once again allowing 1 sack on 41 drop backs. Stroud was able to operate in a clean pocket on 31% of his drop backs per PFF charting.
Defensive Coordinator Lou Anarumo dialed up blitz packages on 36% of Stroud’s drop backs. Surprising Cincinnati opted for man coverage schemes on 48% of passing attempts per NGS tracking data, the highest man coverage rate Houston has faced this season.
Houston had to shake up their defensive looks to accommodate another round of changes in the secondary. Generally Houston runs a 50/50 split usage of single high and split safety looks. With Derek Stingley on a pitch count and Steven Nelson nursing a back injury, Houston opted to run the split safety look on 66% of Cincinnati’s passing attempts. Allowing safety over the top help with their ailing cornerback group.
The Houston defensive line had a day…a spectacular day. The group generated 27 quarterback pressures with Sheldon Rankins leading the way with 9 pressures. Of those 27 pressures, the group finished with 4 sacks, with Rankins achieving 3 of those sacks. Rankins routinely worked over Bengals offensive guard Alex Cappa. Rankins was also busy in the run game with 5 run stops per PFF charting.
I present two videos of Rankins’ work for your viewing pleasure. The second view was late in the 4th quarter, what became a HUGE stop by the defense that led Cincinnati to a field goal instead of a touchdown.
Jonathan Greenard continues his stellar season finishing the day with 5 quarterback pressures, 1 sack, and 3 run stops.
Worth mentioning the Houston run defense efforts this season compared to be the worst run defense of past years. Houston is now in the Top 10 in multiple metrics from yards per game allowed, tackles for loss, and allowed boom plays. Exciting times for this unit.
The wide receiver group continues their “who’s leading this week"“ performance, and Noah Brown continues his dominance. Brown finished the day with 172 yards receiving on 7 receptions (8 targets) including a monumental effort after the catch to create a makeable field goal situation to win the game.
Over the past 3 weeks Noah Brown has graded out (per PFF) as the 2nd best wide receiver over that stretch of time.
I feel like the film review section is always covering CJ Stroud, and honestly why wouldn’t I do that? The kid is electric and so exciting to watch, and performed again yesterday when under the pressure.
This week I wanted to highlight the run game. As noted earlier in this newsletter this was the best rushing performance by Houston this season, and it’s not even close.
Devin Singletary was patient and decisive, the offensive line was moving players off their spot creating running lanes, efforts we have not seen this season.
Houston started out early working their outside zone looks. Unfortunately Fant misses his assignment, but Singletary’s quick decision and speed to outside saves the day. Singletary’s speed was on display all game.
Later in the first quarter Houston moves to inside duo power, a blocking scheme that would be effective most of the day. Houston elected to place two tight ends on the field as opposed to a full back, using their 12 personnel looks to lighten the box. Watch Tunsil completely wall over the defensive end, and Tank Dell hold up the safety creating a nice cut back lane for Singletary as the offensive line crashing the line to their right with double teams. Singletary uses his momentum to bull over the incoming defensive back for additional yards.
More power duo you say? Welcome back Robert Woods who shifts to an off the line blocking tight end spot with motion. Schultz walls off the defensive end, Woods works to the second level. Tunsil and Howard work their double team allowing Tunsil to work to the second level. Britt-Taylor (defensive back) gets put on skates by Singletary’s footwork. Get excited.
The second quarter Houston shifted back to their zone scheme. Howard and Deiter along with Mason and Fant slide their assignments hard left collapsing the line creating the cut back lane. The boot leg presentation by Stroud helps keep the right defensive end at home to allow Singletary to make the cut back. Singletary’s footwork is showcasing his decisiveness. Something we have not seen as much with Dameon Pierce.
Houston had avoided using power pull plays against Cincinnati after minimal success in previous games. Howard and Saubert both find their targets when pulling here. Singletary gets skinny, two hands on the ball, and watch his feet keep pounding for a few extra yards. It’s not pretty but effective to keep the offense on schedule.
Poor Nick Scott trying to blow up this running play coming out of halftime. Houston in 11 personnel with Saubert motioning to the short side of the field for a 2x2 formation. This play was designed to hit the gap between Tunsil and Howard. Fantastic effort by Singletary to turn a negative play into a big positive.
If you’ve read my work in the past this play is for you. One step plant up field go. This is the type of decision making needed for a running back in a zone scheme. Make the decision, plant the back foot, and cut through the gap. Singletary does exactly that with a nice blocking slide effort by the Houston offensive line. Fant leading the way with a beautiful rep.
My favorite rushing play of the day. Houston is in 11 personnel but with a 21 personnel look (something borrowed from Sean McVay). Schultz lines up as the fullback. Jet motion with Robert Woods across the formation, Stroud fakes and shot pitch to Singletary for the outside run. Mason and Brown wall off their assignments allowing Fant to pull. Houston gets the match-up needed with 2 blockers on 2 defenders on the boundary. Fant and Schultz do their job giving Singletary the easy touchdown.
Houston returns to their successful duo power scheme. Two blockers per interior defender. Fant and Schultz are tasked with one on one assignments on the edge. Cincinnati’s linebacker expecting the run to their left. Houston runs a counter to the short side of the field, and Singletary works over another defensive back. Tunsil and Howard are starting to figure things out working next to each other.
Another huge win for the Houston Texans who are now clearly in the hunt for not only the playoffs but potentially the division. The linebacker core will be stretched thin with the suspension of Denzel Perryman with the task of spying the shifty and speedy Kyler Murray next week.
Houston’s run attack has another opportunity with Arizona’s porous run defense, currently ranked 30th with total yardage given up and 5th worst in touchdowns given up. Houston’s pass attack will continue to find success building off play action and a solid rush attack.
Tonight I hope to post up another video on the YouTube Channel covering a specific play I found interesting from the Cincinnati game.
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