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MORSE: Week 5 Preview – Patriots at Houston Texans

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
October 9, 2021 at 6:03 pm ET

MORSE: Week 5 Preview – Patriots at Houston Texans(PHOTO: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

This week the Patriots have the Houston Texans as their opponent.  Coming off an embarrassing 40 – 0 loss to the Bills, the Texans are reeling under 1st-year coach David Culley.  This should have been an easy game for the Patriots.  However, early indications (Wed and Thurs Injury Reports) are the Patriots could be without 4/5ths of their Offensive Line.  The Friday Injury report will give up an indication of who will travel with the team on Saturday.  Mike Reiss states that Wynn, Onwenu, Mason, and Brown were not spotted at the start of practice on Friday.  Likely starters are LT Cajuste, LG Karras, C Andrews, RG Redmond (promotion from PS), RT Herron

Houston Offense

LWR       13           Brandin Cooks                                   19 Andre Roberts                             0 Davion Davis

RWR      18           Chris Conley                                      89 Danny Amendola

LT            78           Laremy Tunsil                                    67 Charlie Heck

LG           67           Max Scharping

C             68           Justin Britt

RG          64           Justin McCray

RT           71           Tytus Howard                                    61 Marcus Cannon

TE           85           Pharoah Brown                                 88 Jordan Akins                                9 Brevin Jordan

QB          10           Davis Mills                                          4 Deshaun Watson

RB           2              Mark Ingram                                      31 David Johnson                             27 Scottie Phillips

RB           30           Phillip Lindsay                                  28 Rex Burkhead


Davis Mills is a rookie QB out of Stanford.  I believe the Patriots had Mills on their radar during the draft process.  If they were unable to get Jones or any of the top QBs at pick 15, then Mills was in play later in the draft.  According to, this was Mills pre-draft assessment:


Quality mechanics

Smooth delivery

Good size

Quality arm

Stands tall in the pocket

Can work off the first read, but developing

Lofts ball well

Throws a catchable ball

Able to loft in touch passes

Stands tall in the pocket

Good timing

Shows anticipation

Quality decision-maker

Pocket composure

Good fit in a West Coast offense


Quality arm strength, but not elite

Not a running threat, lacks mobility

Ball placement needs improvement

Spotty field vision

Needs to speed up the process

Limited experience


“Mills was a star recruit coming out of Georgia and ending up at Stanford. After a redshirt 2018 season, Mills took over in 2019 once K.J. Costello was injured. That season, Mills completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,960 yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He was then the full-time starter in 2020, but he was also limited by the shortened Pac-12 season. He completed 66 percent of his passes on the year for 1,508 yards, seven touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Mills has traits that project him having the ability to develop into an NFL starter. He has good size and a quality arm that help him perform in the pocket, where he will stand tall and deliver the ball with solid mechanics.

Mills has nice footwork while showing a smooth delivery and release. That combination leads to Mills throwing a very catchable ball and having the ability to loft in touch passes downfield. With nice timing and anticipation.

Mills can beat good coverage by dropping in passes to his receivers. He showed reliable decision-making and ball security at Stanford.”


Mills passed the Patriots requirement of completion percentage over 60%, being a pocket passer, height requirement over 6’2”.  What he didn’t meet was being the QB for two years or more.  The shortened 2020 season didn’t allow him to play, no fault of his own.


The O-line is anchored by LT Laremy Tunsil.  The Texans paid a high ransom to get Tunsil and Kenny Stills from the Dolphins in 2019.  It cost two first-round picks, two second-round picks, former Patriot Special Teamer Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Whitehead, now the starter at safety for Tampa Bay Buccaneers.   Former Patriot Marcus Cannon is playing RT for Houston.  Justin Britt, a 7-year vet came into the league as an LT and is now a C.  Justin McCray is another 7-year vet that has played for 6 different teams as well as the Arena League.  A player I was intrigued by in the 2019 draft was Max Scharping from Northern Illinois.   He has turned into a solid offensive lineman.  The Texans have little depth on their O-line.


The running back room is full of veterans.  Phillip Lindsay formerly of Denver is the speedster.  David Johnson is still a terrific pass-catchers out of the backfield but is no longer the workhorse he once was.   Mark Ingram is still a power back and if the carries are spread out can be a serviceable player.  Another former Patriot, Rex Burkhead rounds out the group.  I would sure like to see Burkhead’s steadying influence in the Patriots backfield.  Houston is one team that could be a likely trade partner for the Pats.


Former Patriots ( I am saying that a lot) Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola play for the Texans.  Amendola had a few clutch seasons for the Pats that will not be forgotten.  Who can forget his TD against the Baltimore Ravens on a double pass from Julian Edelman?


TE Pharoah Brown is just a big receiver.  He is not an inline blocking TE.


Houston Defense

DE           59 Whitney Mercilus                     54 Jacob Martin

DT           55 DeMarcus Walker                      91 Roy Lopez

DT           97 Maliek Collins                             90 Ross Blacklock

DE           50 Jordan Jenkins                            52 Jonathan Greenard

SLB         32 Garrett Wallow                          48 Joe Thomas

WILL      41 Zach Cunningham                      43 Neville Hewitt

MIKE     58 Chistian Kirksey                          51 Kamu Grugier – Hill

LCB         39 Terrance Mitchell                      26 Vernon Hargreaves

SS           23 Eric Murray                                   1 Lonnie Johnson

FS           20 Justin Reid                                    8 Terrance Brooks

RCB        25 Desmond King                             37 Tavierre Thomas


Special Teams

PT           11 Cameron Johnston                    PK 7 Ka’imi Fairbarin                      LS 46 Jonathan Weeks

PR /KR  19 Andre Roberts


The defense is very non-descript and void of any superstar players.  The Texans have traded off their defensive star and heart and soul of the team, JJ Watt.  The one remaining player of note is Whitney Mercilus.  Forner Patriot Kamu Grugier-Hill wasn’t good enough to make the Patriots.  Another former Patriot, Terrance Brooks is a backup safety.  You can see the familiarity that GM Nick Caserio has with former Patriots players.


What will our makeshift O-line be able to do against the Texan defense?  I expect Houston will blitz as every other team has done to our rookie QB.   I would expect much of the same vs Texans, with quick passes, no-huddle, two-minute type of offense.  I don’t think we will get anything out of the running game with the makeshift line.  They still have to attempt more than 8 runs.  Perhaps they can run some type of wild cat offense.

Patriots News Oct.10, Gilmore Trade, Collins Returns, Players to Watch

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

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