LDT Amobi Okoye vs. RG Kyle Devan (passing situations):Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak has been heaping praise on Amobi Okoye, saying he has been "steadily playing his best football as a pro," a few weeks back. "I think there's still another level for him to find, but he's obviously playing with more confidence and playing better."
Mysanantonio.com profiled Okoye in October:
Kubiak credits two new coaches, defensive coordinator Frank Bush and D-line coach Bill Kollar, plus the dimension rookie Brian Cushing adds with getting Okoye back on firmer footing. Also, he's healthier than he was last season, when he missed two games with a high ankle sprain.
In the first meeting between these two teams in Week 9, DeVan made his first professional start and had his hands full with Okoye at times. Okoye was able to use his speed to generate a couple quarterback hurries by beating Devan off the snap.
If DeVan is able to get into Okoye quickly and maintain a low center of gravity, it will prevent Okoye will gaining a leverage advantage. DeVan has the ability to stun a defender a bit with just how quickly he gets into blocks If Okoye is able to using his great initial quickness and speed to shoot the gap, he'll quickly blow by DeVan, getting penetration into the backfield and disrupting the play.
Now while Okoye has the ability to overwhelm with strength. He is at his best when using his excellent quickness and speed to shoot gaps. He is not yet a great bull rusher but is improving. In Week 9, I wrote that was a good thing for Mike Pollak, who was better against speed than power, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not for DeVan. Kyle actually works better against power than speed. So Devan must maintain a square pad level and get good hand placement on the speedy Okoye.
The Colts might opt to give DeVan some help with Okoye, but that's not likely. That will depend a lot on the play of Texans NT Shaun Cody. Cody's responsibility at the nose is to consume the blocks of both C Jeff Saturday and weak-side guard Ryan Lilja. If Cody is doing that well, it leaves Okoye in one-on-one blocking situations against Devan.
C Jeff Saturday vs. NT Jeff Zgonina (running plays):The Purdue graduate Jeff Zgonina is 39 years old and the second-oldest non-kicker in the NFL (Brett Favre is the oldest). He's played 17 seasons for eight franchises. He has started just 63 of his career 208 games, and never been paid more than the NFL minimum (currently $860,000) for a season's work. When these two teams met a few weeks back this workhorse led the Texans linemen with three tackles. What do we know about Zgonina? A few of his former teammates and coaches recently broke down the 18-year veteran for a special piece Sports Illustrated did:
On an athletic level, Zgonina has endured not just through the good fortune of roster openings and health (although both have been factors), but also through the pure reliability of his play. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who coached Zgonina in Pittsburgh, Carolina and Miami (and cut him at the first two), says, "He's smart and a great technician. There's a high comfort level having him on your team. He does what he's supposed to do."
Zgonina will likely get around 20-25 snaps as he rotates in for NT Shaun Cody. His matchup with Jeff Saturday will not be a glamour matchup, just two technicians who do their jobs effectively and well. Zgonina will play fresh and has a high motor, so you can't risk having a bad play or poor technique against him. He will exploit the advantage.In that same Sports Illustrated story, former Dolphin teammate Zach Thomas said of Zgonina, "Jeff was so unselfish. He made linebackers better." The key for Saturday is to not allow Zgonina to make Houston's linebackers look better this Sunday. Saturday does that by handling Zgonina without help, which in turn will let Ryan Lilja get to the second level and get a body on a linebacker. This should in turn yield longer runs for Colts running backs.
With four sacks in 10 games, Mario Williams is not having the kind of year you would expect. A nagging shoulder injury is likely the reason for that. "I know Mario Williams has been playing hurt all year long, and if they could ever get him healthy, that would be a big deal," FoxSports.com analyst Charles Davis said recently. Bad shoulder or not, he's still the type of player that must be accounted for on every down.
Mike Sando of ESPN watched Williams closely during their win at Cincinnati and came back with this report. "Mario Williams is playing hurt for the Texans and it shows. I just charted Williams while watching every Texans defensive snap against the Bengals in Week 6," Sando wrote. "Williams, playing through a shoulder injury, came close to getting pressure a couple times. He made one dominant play, shedding a tight end to make a powerful tackle against the run. He drove back the offensive tackle one time. But he was not a dominant force."
Williams is close to being a total package type of pass rusher. He combines speed off the edge with an array of counter moves and can convert speed into power to bull rush.
Look for the Colts to test Williams and the health of his shoulder. They'll attempt to wear him down by running right at him. Houston has had their struggles against the run, ranking 23rd in the league with 4.8 yards per carry allowed and giving up an average of 127 yards per game on the ground.
This will be the second time in three weeks Charlie Johnson has matched up against Mario Williams. Johnson held Williams at bay most of the afternoon that Sunday, but ended up giving his first sack of the year to Williams in the fourth quarter. Williams beat Johnson off the edge with his speed. Williams was by Johnson before Johnson could react.
Charlie Johnson is not the most athletic tackle, so elite speed rushers like Wiliams will have their moments. The key is Johnson has kept those moments to a minimum. And he's done that so far this season. Charlie has developed into a very good NFL offensive lineman. While he can play almost anywhere on the line, he seems to be coming into his own at left tackle.
He does a nice job positioning his squatty frame between edge rushers and his quarterback. He does that by using his step out skills to get position and, although his wingspan isn't that wide, he uses his arm reach well.
Johnson will need to use all those developing skills, and well, Sunday if he hopes to keep Williams away from Peyton Manning.
Talk about it in our Insider's Forum!
Follow ColtPower's updates on Twitter!
In the Trenches: Texans — Part One
Colts Blitz Top Stories
10 worst NFL plays of all timeBoneheaded mistakes that these 10 NFL players will never live down.
Scout NFL Network08/22/2016
Week 4: Waiver Wire & Free Agent PickupsCorey Parson aka The Fantasy Executive reveals some players that you should scoop up off the waiver wire in your Fantasy Football league!
Scout Fantasy4:30 PM
Week 4: 6 Quarterbacks Worth WatchingFormer No. 1 Fantasy Football Player in the World Mark Deming pinpoints the fluctuations at the QB position: hot and cold streaks, favorable and unfavorable matchups, top…
Scout Fantasy2:20 PM
Star DevelopmentYear after year, several SEC programs "out-recruit" Mississippi State landing big-time 4-star and 5-star recruits, yet the Bulldogs still manage to compete with the heavy hitters…
Gene's Page12:08 PM