Seattle Seahawks vs. Houston Texans: Full Roster Grades for Houston
Through the first four weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Houston Texans have been a team of two halves. Against the San Diego Chargers and the Tennessee Titans, the Texans were horrific in the first half and exemplary in the second.
That patterned reversed itself in Week 4. The Texans dominated the Seattle Seahawks in the first half and went into the locker room up 20-3.
When the second half rolled around, the Texans somehow forgot that they had been imposing their will on the Seahawks. Their offense was inefficient, going scoreless in the second half and overtime, and their defense let Russell Wilson run around and lead the Seahawks to a miracle comeback win, 23-20.
It was just pathetic. From the coaching to the quarterback to the offensive line, just an overall pathetic second-half effort by the team that should have coasted to victory.
Here are the grades from one of the Texans' most disappointing losses in recent memory.
Matt Schaub: D+
Matt Schaub is not a playmaker; his success his dependent upon the play of his offensive line. While this is true with nearly all NFL quarterbacks, Schaub takes it to the extreme.
When the line gave Schaub protection against Seattle, he calmly dissected the Seahawks defense and placed the ball where it needed to be located.
Unfortunately, Schaub turns into a deer in headlights when he sees defenders running at him. Instead of maneuvering around the pocket and finding space to throw the ball—like even merely above-average quarterbacks do—he either curls up and takes the sack or immediately looks to throw the ball away.
This is what happened to Schaub in the second half of this game. His protection wasn't perfect, and the quarterback's poise crumbled accordingly. He threw the game away—quite literally—when he threw one of the worst interceptions of his career, a pick-six that tied the game with under three minutes to play in regulation.
Schaub was terrible, and the Texans lost because of his inability to move the ball in the second half.
Arian Foster: A
Despite only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, Arian Foster had an exceptional game, by far his best one of the season.
He eclipsed 100 yards for the first time, but he did his greatest damage in the passing game. He made play after play every time he caught the ball, leading the Texans offense down the field in the first half and eventually scoring one of the team's two touchdowns.
Ben Tate: C+
Ben Tate actually ran the ball quite well in this one. He was his usual hardnosed self, always fighting for extra yards and showing explosiveness through the hole.
But then he fumbled the football deep in Texans territory. And then the Seahawks kicked a field goal, one that would go a long way towards their comeback victory. It was a devastating fumble, hence the huge deduction to Tate's game grade.
Greg Jones: B+
Greg Jones was once again coldly efficient, ferociously attacking defensive linemen and linebackers in paving the way for Foster and Tate.
For most of last season and this offseason, there was talk that Richard Sherman had surpassed Darrelle Revis as the best cornerback in the NFL. Maybe he has, but Andre Johnson embarrassed him today.
Johnson had his way with Sherman, continuously getting open and hauling in reception after reception (nine catches for 110 yards).
Despite the failings of Matt Schaub and the offensive line, Johnson was his usual terrific self.
DeAndre Hopkins: C
It's tough for rookie receivers to perform on a consistent basis in their inaugural seasons. And such consistent play can be especially difficult to attain when going up against an elite NFL secondary.
DeAndre Hopkins didn't make much an impact in this one, but given the prowess of Seattle's secondary, his two-catch day is understandable.
Owen Daniels: B
After an off week, Daniels had an effective day against Seattle. He was a consistent, reliable target for Matt Schaub, and he was a major contributor to the Texans' offensive effort.
Daniels, however, played a major role in Schaub's first interception, mishandling a catchable pass. What made this miscue especially painful was the fact that the Texans were in the red zone, and any type of score could have changed the outcome of the game.
Garrett Graham: A
Like Daniels, Graham struggled last week against the Baltimore Ravens. And, like Daniels, Graham's play improved dramatically against the Seahawks, as the No. 2 tight end made several big plays for the Texans offense, including a 31-yard touchdown reception.
Offensive Line: C+
In the first half, the Texans' offensive line was nearly perfect. They opened running lanes for Arian Foster and did a great job protecting Matt Schaub.
While the solid run-blocking continued in the second half, the pass protection collapsed, as it seemed that pressure reached Schaub on nearly every dropback. As a result, Schaub's pocket deficiencies were exacerbated, and the Texans blew a victory and what would have been a major statement.
J.J. Watt: A
Week after week, J.J. Watt puts on a spectacular defensive show. Despite being subjected to double-teams the entire game, Watt somehow outmuscled the Seahawks' offensive line en route to another impressive performance.
He seemed to live in the offensive backfield, either planting running backs on their back or constantly pressuring the quarterback. Furthermore, since Watt was giving the Seahawks line so much trouble, he opened up pass-rushing opportunities for other members of the Texans' front seven.
Earl Mitchell: C+
Earl Mitchell was decent in this one; he had a couple of tackles but otherwise didn't make a noticeable impact.
Antonio Smith: A-
For the first game this season, Antonio Smith actually looked like his usual self. He was very good rushing the passer, and he was solid against the run. If he can continue to play like, the Texans should have a frightening defensive line this season.
Brian Cushing: A
Ever wonder just how important Brian Cushing is to the Texans defense?
Well, if you truly must know, just observe the difference between how well the defense played before and after Cushing left the game with a concussion.
It was like night and day. With Cushing on the field, Russell Wilson was terribly ineffective, unable to escape from the pocket and hardly able to get off a pass. As soon as Cushing suffered his injury, Wilson ran rampant, scrambling for one big run after another and willing the Seahawks back into the game.
Cushing was dominant when he was in the game, wrecking havoc on one of most efficient offenses in the NFL. The Texans desperately need a healthy Cushing for the San Francisco 49ers game next week.
Their defense is just so good with him in the game and such a shell of itself when he's out.
Whitney Mercilus: A
Many Texans fans picked Mercilus to be the team's defensive breakout player for this season. After the first three games, that prediction seemed misguided; Mercilus failed to make much of an obvious impact.
Against the Seahawks, though, Mercilus showed just why the Texans thought he was worthy of their first-round pick in 2012. He finished with 2.5 sacks, and he was all over Wilson for the majority of the game.
If Mercilus can continue to play like this, the Texans could end up possessing one of the best front sevens in the entire league.
Brooks Reed: A-
Despite not playing as well as Mercilus, Reed still had a very effective game. He tallied his first sack of the year, and he was very good against the run.
Joe Mays/Darryl Sharpton: B+
The two inside linebackers who split time next to Brian Cushing continued their above-average start to the season, which is certainly surprising. The two linebackers were considered to be liabilities at the start of the year, but they have yet to cause any problems.
They were both decent in this one; they played well against the run and didn't make any obvious mistakes in coverage.
Johnathan Joseph: A
Remember when Johnathan Joseph was a shutdown cornerback in 2011? Well, if you can't, just rewatch this game. Joseph blanketed every Seahawks receiver he covered, and he picked off a pass.
His lone mistake came on a pass-interference penalty early in the game, but his great play throughout made up for it.
Kareem Jackson: B
Despite Joseph's excellent play, Jackson was even better. He was absolutely unbeatable in coverage, as Seahawk receivers had no shot beating him.
But then Jackson made a horrible, game-changing mistake. The Seahawks were driving in overtime, and Wilson had just completed a short pass. Jackson quickly wrapped the receiver up and began to push him backwards, never relinquishing his tight grip.
The refs blew the play dead, but Jackson continued his effort to tackle Doug Baldwin. Jackson, eventually, picked Baldwin up and slammed him to the ground, earning a 15-yard penalty. The boneheaded infraction put the Seahawks in field-goal position, and they kicked the game-winner a few plays later.
Brice McCain: A
For the first three weeks of the regular season, McCain was the bane of the Texans defense and deserving of all the criticism he got. He was awful, unable to keep up with opposing slot receivers.
Against the Seahawks, though, McCain was much, much better. He contained all of his assignments, and Wilson was unable to pick on him.
Ed Reed: A-
Ed Reed was great in coverage, as he always is. And although he didn't make many plays against the run, he did have a solid tackle on a Russell Wilson scramble that kept the quarterback from picking up a huge first down.
Danieal Manning: A-
Manning, like Reed, was very good in coverage. Wilson's receivers were were unable to gain separation from Manning, which is a great sign for the veteran safety who struggled severely in coverage last season.
Randy Bullock: A
Randy Bullock hit both of his attempted field goals, and he booted the ball deep into the end zone on all his kickoffs. Solid game.
Shane Lechler: A
Shane Lechler, like he has been all season, was amazing. He showed off both his pure punting strength and his impeccable touch.