Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Brock Osweiler, DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans, Jabaal Sheard, Jacoby Brissett, Jamie Collins, JJ Watt, Lamar Miller, New England Patriots, NFL, Ryan Griffin
Houston Texan 0
New England Patriots 27
This is a slightly odd game to write up as it was so incredibly one sided, and even though I said when I picked the Texans that I could see the Patriots winning the game, I was not thinking with a result like this.
The Patriots dominated the Texans in all three phases of the game and so I will start with mention of the Patriots in special teams. One feature that has already been pretty prominent this season is the Patriot’s reaction to the new kick off rules, with them deliberately kicking the ball short of the end zone and backing their coverage team to tackle before the twenty-five yard line and so give them an advantage in field position. Add this to them regularly pining the Texans behind the twenty yard line by punting, and they had a decided advantage in special teams even before the Texans started fumbling their returns.
On offence the Patriots demonstrated that they don’t have a single game plan, but adjust to both their opponent and the strength of their team, and so with a rookie third string quarterback they went very run heavy whilst using stunts and extra linemen to control the Texan’s defensive front. This they did very effectively, and whilst they were not explosive on offence, they did enough. This is even more impressive when you find out that in the second quarter Jacoby Brissett sprained his thumb. The Patriots may have only generated one hundred and three yards of passing offence on eleven completions from nineteen attempts, but when you can get one hundred and eighty-five yards on the ground then this doesn’t matter.
The Texans defence was pretty ineffective, which JJ Watt kept remarkably quiet. It is hard to write too much about them in a game like this, they kept in control of the passing game, but that really wasn’t the focus of the Patriots offence. How they allowed the known to be mobile Brissett to run twenty-seven yards for a touchdown is a mystery, and they will be hoping that this was just a blip in the season and Watt’s problems were simply caused by a road game on a short week whilst still coming back from a back injury.
If the defensive problem for the Texans were possibly a blip, the offensive struggles are actually pretty worrying. The game plan did not work at all, with a surprising number of attempted runs on third down, and the Texans didn’t even make it into the Patriots half of the field until the third quarter. It didn’t seem that Brock Osweiler could drive the team in this game, and DeAndre Hopkins had to make some pretty spectacular catches to get his four catches for fifty-six yards. All too often Osweiler would throw to Lamar Miller or Ryan Griffin underneath, and he will have to improve greatly to justify his seventeen million dollar a year contract. It must also be worrying that Bill O’Brien was so outcoached on his side of the ball, but plenty of coordinators have failed against Bill Belichick.
The Patriots defence really had the number of the Texans all game, and whilst there was no one area obviously dominant, they were able to contain the Texans all game and certainly never allowed them to sustain a drive. The interception by Jamie Collins was as much because Osweiler simply didn’t see him lurking in the middle of the field, and Jabaal Sheard got both of the team’s sacks, but in keeping with the overall nature of this game it was a team performance that was the story of the defence.
The Patriots keep rolling, and I don’t think anyone would bet against them going 4-0 without Tom Brady despite the injury problems stacking up at quarterback, especially with the Bills visiting them next week.
The Texans will be hoping this was a one off anomaly, but with the offensive problems and JJ Watt not looking at all himself, there will be concern until they can put a run of results together.