The Houston Texans exceeded expectations for the second straight week, competing with one of the better teams in the AFC. They went into halftime tied 14-14 with the Cleveland Browns but saw their hopes of coming away with a 2-0 start leave alongside Tyrod Taylor at halftime.
The Browns took control of the game early in the second half, leaning on their advantage up front along the offensive line and capitalizing on Davis Mills’ mistakes in his first NFL action. The Browns ended up winning 31-21.
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Baker Mayfield had a comfortable game against Houston’s defense, as he was only pressured on three of his 28 dropbacks (pending review), allowing him to complete over 90% of his attempts.
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt saw a relatively even split of rushing work, but Chubb had more success on the ground, averaging five rushing yards per carry after contact while forcing nine missed tackles, per PFF’s first-run analysis.
Demetric Felton made the most of limited opportunities, catching two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown on just three routes. Felton forced multiple missed tackles on his touchdown reception — one of the more impressive plays of the game.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
An already weakened unit took another blow with an early Jarvis Landry injury. Donovan Peoples-Jones (22 routes), Rashard Higgins (19 routes) and Anthony Schwartz (17 routes) were the team’s top receiving options, as they combined for just three receptions for 42 yards in the game.
Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant were all involved in the passing game, but unlike last week, Bryant led the way in receiving yards (49). Two of Bryant’s receptions came when lined up out wide (35 yards).
It looked like Houston might have more success against Cleveland’s offensive line than first anticipated early on, but the Browns’ group up front settled in.
No offensive lineman was charged with multiple pressures allowed (according to PFF’s first-run analysis), and Cleveland’s 60 rushing yards before contact was the second-highest mark of any team in the early slate of games.
Jadeveon Clowney didn’t have a ton of high-level pass-rushing wins, but he did come through with multiple tackles for loss or no gain against the run. His four pressures were all charted as clean up or unblocked (pending review).
Malik Jackson was the Browns’ most impressive pass rusher, notching three pressures in 24 pass-rushing snaps on PFF’s first-run analysis.
Malcolm Smith played, by far, the most snaps (58) of any linebacker on Cleveland’s roster, and the former Super Bowl MVP came through with a solid performance, particularly in coverage. His third-quarter interception set up Cleveland in scoring position.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who started the game, only played 18 snaps — all of which came inside the box.
Houston went after Cleveland’s best cornerback — Denzel Ward — in this game. He was charged with a team-high six receptions allowed and 99 passing yards allowed into his coverage, per PFF’s first-run analysis. On the other side, the rookie Greg Newsome allowed just one reception for two yards.
|Player||Targets||Receptions allowed||Yards allowed|
|Greg Newsome II||2||1||2|
Tyrod Taylor was efficient throughout the first half, relying on short and intermediate throws in the short to complete 10 of 11 passes. Taylor averaged 11.4 passing yards per attempt despite an average depth of target less than four yards downfield.
|Statistic||Tyrod Taylor||Davis Mills|
|Yards per pass play||10.8||5.0|
|Average depth of target||3.7||11.4|
|Adjusted Completion %||91%||47%|
Davis Mills was on the opposite end of the spectrum. He pushed the ball downfield, wildly at times. The passing offense was more efficient with Taylor behind center.
Ingram led the way as a runner for the second straight week, finishing with 14 carries for 41 yards. He didn’t have much room to run, picking up more rushing yards after contact (42) than total yards rushing while forcing six missed tackles as well.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Like Week 1, Brandin Cooks was the clear top dog in the receiver rotation, as he earned 14 targets in the game. No other wide receiver or tight end saw more than two targets. It looks like Cooks is going to get fed targets no matter who is at quarterback this year.
The offensive line held up well in pass protection, but they struggled to create any room to run. The Texans averaged just 0.2 rushing yards before contact per rushing attempt.
Houston’s defensive line entered the season with PFF’s 32nd-ranked defensive line and drew a matchup with Cleveland’s first-ranked offensive line. As that mismatch would suggest, the Browns were able to control the trenches.
Houston recorded three total pressures in the game, and no defender walked away with multiple pressures, per PFF’s first-run analysis.
Houston played base defense with three linebackers on the field on 60% of their defensive snaps. Christian Kirksey, Zach Cunningham and Kamu Grugier-Hill were the linebackers on the field for the majority of those snaps.
Grugier-Hill was active in his 40 snaps, recording eight total tackles — two of which went for loss or no gain.
Justin Reid made several big plays early in the game, forcing a fumble and picking off a pass in the first half.
Cleveland wasn’t able to take advantage of Houston's weak cornerback group, as Vernon Hargreaves, Terrance Mitchell and Tremon Smith combined to allow just three receptions for 34 yards when lined up at outside cornerback.