Shooting the Bull: Kubiak and the Texans
For a closer look at the Texans with the All-22 coaching tape, each week, we will talk with Sean Coffey, content producer and technical football analyst of NFL Playbook on NFL Network.
Aspan: T.Y. Hilton caught one pass for six yards in the first half. In the second half he caught six passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns. Jonathan Joseph was in coverage on most of these plays – the biggest was the 58-yard TD that cut the Texans' lead to 24-19. What did the Colts figure out with Hilton in the second half?
Coffey: Actually not too much was changed from Hilton’s slow start to his explosion in the second half. The Texans were clearly afraid of his speed from the beginning of the game through the end. Houston’s defense allowed him to free release and run. Hilton was never challenged to win early in his routes. While Joseph gave up big plays, playing 6-8 yards off of a speedy wide receiver didn’t help him at all.
Indianapolis to its credit did a good job of moving and motioning Hilton pre-snap to back the coverage off of the line of scrimmage, giving a free release.
On his first and last touchdowns, which were both in the red zone, he faced soft man to man coverage. The 58-yard touchdown reception was a zone concept where Joseph gave a free release, expecting inside help from the free safety McCain and he was held by Coby Fleener’s deep-in route. McCain was the culprit on two of those three touchdown receptions. Joseph cannot take all of the heat for Hilton’s success against this defense.
PA: The person who benefitted the most from having Case Keenum under center was Andre Johnson – three touchdowns, 190 yards in the first half. That in itself is a great day at the office, but the Texans offense managed only three second half points. What adjustments did the Colts make in the second half to hold the Texans offense in check and to take away Johnson in particular?
SC: Once again, there weren’t many adjustments made, Johnson wasn’t doubled in the second half or anything of that sort. The Colts secondary simply tightened up and honestly, there was a consistent lack of separation of the Texans receivers across the span of this entire game.
Yes, Keenum made some throws, but his receivers did not help him enough in my opinion – that includes Johnson as well. Aside from Johnson’s first touchdown on the out and up route, the other two TD receptions were a result of Keenum trusting him to win jump balls. On his second touchdown catch, down the middle, Case Keenum expected Johnson to make a play on the ball with a safety on him. He was not open, but this show of trust to your best receiver who hadn’t caught a TD pass all season is something good to take away from this loss.
PA: The Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL against the run. What do they do so well against the run?
SC: The Cardinals front seven is very strong and extremely active. Their defensive line led by Darnell Dockett gets consistent penetration. This keeps their linebackers Carlos Dansby and Daryl Washington free to run. That is what those two like to do, they are instinctive and physical and have speed to go with it.
The Cardinals' front line hardly goes backwards, they get penetration and keep their backers free to make plays. This will be an interesting matchup at the line of scrimmage because Houston loves to get their offensive lineman to the second level on linebackers. Whoever wins that game within the game will probably control the direction.