The Houston Texans are on a roll winning four games in a row, and they’re mostly doing it on the backs of their defense. The offense, however, may have finally found its stride thanks to some great contributions from their tight ends.
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Last week, Houston got every offense’s dream: a matchup with the porous defense of the New Orleans Saints. A game against the Saints is perfect for an offense trying to build steam, and Houston did just that. They managed 362 yards of offense, including 167 on the ground, their highest total since Week 3. The running backs played well to reach this total, but the running lanes were opened up by the passing game.
Brian Hoyer only threw for 205 yards, but he did it while completing 78% of his passes, and Hoyer seemed in complete control of the game. The difference between Hoyer’s passing last week from most weeks, is the fact that he didn’t run the air attack completely through DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins, third in the league in receiving yards, was held to a season-low 36 yards on five catches and was kept out of the end zone for the first time in four weeks. Instead, Houston’s reviewing leader was none other than tight end Ryan Griffin, who had a career-high 72 yards and caught only the third touchdown of his career.
Griffin’s fellow tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz also managed 20 yards on 2 catches, as the duo combined for almost half of the team’s total yards through the air. After tight ends had accounted for less than 10% of the team’s passing offense through the first ten games, this is quite a change.
This isn’t a sign that the team’s receivers are struggling, but rather that Brian Hoyer has figured out how valuable his tight ends can be, in particular Ryan Griffin. This is only Griffin’s third game back after missing most of the season with an injury he suffered in Week 1, and he’s showing the production some thought he could manage this year.
Finding targets other than DeAndre Hopkins, Cecil Shorts, and Nate Washington will be huge for the team’s passing game, and we’ve already seen what it can do for the running game. With defenses forced to pay attention to these talented weapons on the outside, also forcing them to guard the tight ends in the middle will leave some holes open for the backs to pick up some big yardage.
Houston is blessed with an elite defense, but if they end up in a shootout type situation, having more receiving weapons will be a necessity. Hopefully Hoyer can continue to get the big fellas involved, and the Texans can keep up this impressive run.