Max Bullough Expected to Start
With Brian Cushing now out after sustaining a grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, Max Bullough is in the forefront to play next to Benardrick McKinney. He worked well next to McKinney on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, and was amply prepared to make plays happen on the field. He was a plus player in the run and, although he came out in dime situations, Bullough was kept in the middle of the defense when McKinney bumped out to the edge in their nickel defense. The Texans did not limit any of their defense with Bullough on the field, which is an added benefit when a depth player has to replace the clear starter.
Will Fuller in the Offense
A closer look at Will Fuller V’s day on Sunday shows that Brock Osweiler is not afraid to push the ball downfield to him. Of Fuller’s 11 targets, 8 were 19 yards or more downfield. Two plays resulted in catches for 55 yards and also he had the one drop that would have been easily both the biggest gain of the day and a score. Fuller did most of his work downfield and gave opposing teams film to pay attention to as they prepare for the Texans and see how Osweiler may continue to go to Fuller as the deep threat.
The Texans are now showing how versatilite their offensive skills players are. Braxton Miller lined in the backfield for a couple of plays while running backs Lamar Miller and Tyler Ervin lined up outside like wide receivers. Ervin spent plenty of snaps in the slot which was expected as he is a better pass catcher. The real match-up problem is Stephen Anderson who can line up outside as a wide receiver or flexed off the offensive tackle against linebackers. There are many moving pieces to the Texans offense, in which the personnel showed last Sunday that it can get the looks it wants.
Clowney at Defensive End
“Well, I really think we’re a game plan offense, defense and special teams. I don’t know if you’ll see that the whole year. We felt like that gave us a decent chance to play good defense against these guys,” said Bill O’Brien after the game. “That was just part of the plan for today.”
But whether that be the plan for future games is the key. Jadeveon Clowney played 45 total defensive snaps and 17 came from the 3-4 end position, which is a high total for Clowney who has never played the position. How the Texans move forward at defensive end is something to watch and a key indicator on what the Texans feel about Christian Covington, Devon Still and Joel Heath who all played that spot during training camp and the preseason. The Texans might want to get their best players on the field but they are also choosing the player who has the least amount of preparation for the position which is a slight concern.
Lamar Miller Concern
The Texans ran Lamar Miller 28 times last Sunday, which was a career high in his four seasons in the NFL. Miller was hardly asked to be this type of player in Miami and, even late in the game, the Texans opted to go with Miller over Alfred Blue to grind out the clock to seal the game. The Texans need to start monitoring Miller’s work load or at least be aware of the carries he is taking. With the Miami Dolphins, Miller was a back who worked primarily out of shotgun, in the zone scheme, and he also worked well in the screen game. Now, Miller is being asked, at least in the first game, to be an in-between the tackles runner in the power and zone schemes, which takes him out of his comfort zone. Miller is still learning the offense but allowing him to take some unnecessary work late in game instead of another back appears not to be ideal. The remaining running backs only received three carries on Sunday against the Bears.