MORSE: Week 5 Preview – Patriots at Houston Texans
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
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 WalterFootball.com, this was Mills pre-draft assessment:
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 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
“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.
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
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.
Posted Under: Patriots News