Ryan Mallett and the Texans didn’t take the bye week off.
Sep 7, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) warms up before a game against the Washington Redskins at NRG Stadium. The Texans defeated the Redskins 17-6. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Texans may not have played football, they have had a little break but boy have they been busy. As reported here and elsewhere Texans linerbacker coach Mike Vrabel was robbed on Saturday losing his superbowl rings and sense of safety. I do hope they catch the theives. J.J. Watt took a break to spend time with friends and family and Ryan Mallett? He didn’t take a break. He got ready for the debut he’s been waiting for since he left college. His first start commanding an NFL offense.
Mallett will be making a tough start against the AFC North leading Cleveland Browns, and the man he replaced as Tom Brady’s backup. On paper, you’d say the Texans hadn’t a chance. They lose in all the key paper stats. Boyer has experience, proven success, a winning team. Mallett has a couple of throws in live game over four years and the Texans are sitting at 4-5 compared to the Browns 6-3 record. Oh and it’ll be an away game.
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That’s not the ideal way to get your feet wet. Mallett is going to have to take an offense that was sputtering terribly for the last nine games, showing flashes of brilliance mired in ineffectual execution. So where is the good news? The good news is that Mallett knows the basic system the Texans have moved to under rookie head coach Bill O’Brien. O’Brien runs a modification of the same system the Patriots have been using to great success for years. Unlike Case Keenum whose first start was without Arian Foster, Mallett has a reasonably healthy #23 to keep the Browns defense on edge.
Couple the advantage of one of the best backs in the NFL today Mallett has at his disposal a quiet threat. Through nine games the Texans have failed to utilize their tight ends. Mallett’s background is from a team that relied on them. If the Texans TE’s can get their stuff together the Browns have almost no tape on how they would be used. This is a huge tactical advantage I’d shocked if O’Brien doesn’t use. Also with Mallett under center the Texans can threaten the Browns deep. DeAndre Hopkins has the speed, Mallett has the arm to burn the Browns. If the offensive line can hold up the Browns pass rush long enough Mallett is capable of 30+ yard passes. Something we’ve not seen all year.
While the Browns hold the statistical advantage, football as they say isn’t played on paper. The Texans have to win out to have any hope of salvaging their season and that motivation can be a great boon for a team on the bubble.
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