Film Study: Texans vs. Falcons first half observations
After a close loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4, the Houston Texans made some adjustments and looked to get back on track against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has taken some heat this season for the amount of time he has spent holding on to the football. In 2019, Watson’s time with the football was at 2.92 seconds on average going into Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, putting him towards the bottom of the league.
This past Sunday Watson was making quick decisions and getting rid of the ball in 2.43 seconds on average for the sixth fastest time in Week 5 according to Next Gen stats.
On this play, Watson recognizes that linebacker De’Vondre Campbell would be blitzing and calls it out pre-snap. Watson sets quick and throws out to tight end Jordan Akins in the flat for a big gain on third down.
The young quarterback made a habit of acting quickly on the day and it led to a perfect passer rating of 158.3. If Watson is able to continue this trend going forward, defenses will have a hard time stopping this offense.
This is another third down situation where Watson made a quick read that led to a big play for the Texans. The Falcons actually dropped eight into coverage, but it didn’t bother Watson, and he hit an open Will Fuller right away.
As much as this is a good example of Watson acting quick, it shows why Fuller had such a great day against Atlanta’s secondary. The Falcons seemed to be focused on containing DeAndre Hopkins, and Fuller takes advantage of that here.
Fuller starts his route inside before darting out toward the sideline. The subtle step inside gets two Atlanta defenders tangled up and leaves an easy target for Watson.
Once he makes the catch, Fuller turns on the speed up the sideline and breaks a 36-yard gain. Fuller set career highs on the day with 14 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
The Falcons were unable to get anything going on the ground, and the secondary did a good job of helping the front seven by tackling on the perimeter. On this play, the Falcons are trying to get running back Devonta Freeman on the outside for a big play.
Atlanta’s left tackle gets outside and tries to engage with Lonnie Johnson to free up the edge for Freeman. Johnson is able to get around the offensive lineman and grab Freeman, meeting safety Justin Reid who comes screaming in from the defensive backfield.
DJ Reader and the defensive line have done an excellent job this season and have been the star of the defensive side of the ball for good reason. The secondary did their job in supporting the run against Atlanta and holding their opponent to just 57 yards on the ground.
Jahleel Addae has been a nice addition to the Texans defense this season. Against the Falcons, Addae played a season-high 35 defensive snaps and recorded nine solo tackles. The play above shows one of those nine tackles.
As much as this is an opportunity to point out the individual contribution made by Addae, it also shows the job the Texans did as a team preventing big plays after catch. On this third down play, Reid applies pressure to Matt Ryan and forces him to roll out to his right and throw to Ito Smith underneath.
Addae stops Smith short and forces a punt. The defense has played soft in the secondary and it was an issue early in the season. The defense kept everything in front of them for the most part against Atlanta and wrapped up receivers right away.
After a disappointing loss to the Panthers, the Texans had a clear plan to change their fortunes against another NFC South opponent. Despite a one-point deficit going into halftime, there was reason to believe the team had turned things around and the second half would continue to show that things were heading in the right direction.