The Baltimore Ravens have a tough battle against the Houston Texans. Here is what film study taught me about the Texans:
The Texans defense believes that they can generate pass rush without sending too many defenders after the quarterback. Houston typically uses a four to five man pass rush and they save blitzes for the right moment.
The Texans defense struggles to defend the short passing game. That’s not something that was a particularly surprising find considering they rank 29th in passing yards allowed per game, they traded for Gareon Conley and picked up Vernon Hargreaves. Their inability to defend against the short pass hurt them dearly in their loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Zach Pascal had six receptions for over 100 yards and a touchdown against them.
Much of Pascal’s success came on short passes where he racked up yards after the catch. T.Y. Hilton also had six grabs for 74 yards. The defense can have trouble with the tight end, Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle also had more than respectable contributions to the box score. Slant routes and throws into the flat were inexplicably successful against the Texans.
Hunter Renfrow imitated Pascal’s success the next week. He caught a slant over the middle of the field, and dodged a tackle for one of the game’s biggest plays. This is a game where speed at the receiver position and good route running will yield results. Expect Marquise Brown to have one of his best games. The Texans don’t have a player who can keep up with him. If I were the offensive coordinator I would start the game with a lot of quick throws to Marquise Brown to get them biting on some double move routes like a sluggo (slant and go) or an out and up.
The tight ends should be able to have some fun in this game. Look for short passes to Nick Boyle and even some for fullback, Pat Ricard. Mark Andrews should be able to get open in the middle of the field. The Texans linebackers have a lot of speed, but Andrews has size that will challenge them.
The Texans linebackers are impressive. Zach Cunningham has developed into what Kenny Young should have become. He’s an impressive linebacker that really pops out on the Texans tape. The combination of him and Benardrick McKinney makes one of the best linebacker duos in the league.
The Texans are disciplined and play gap sound defense. The Ravens will have to loosen the Texans up a little with the passing game but look for some window dressing and all the wrinkles that come with the Greg Roman attack. The Ravens have to get the Texans impressive linebackers off their scent. Look for some more of the option plays and a lot of misdirection in the run game.