Ahead of the Colts’ week 7 contest with the Houston Texans, I reached out to Battle Red Blog to get some answers to a few questions about their team. Jeremy Brener was kind enough to answer me, and here’s what he had to say.
Last year through 7 weeks the Texans had 19 sacks. Despite trading away Jadeveon Clowney ahead of this season, the team still has 16 through the same number of games in 2019. How have they handled his loss and who is stepping up to help replace his production?
Whitney Mercilus has been a strong presence in the lineup and is putting together one of his strongest seasons to date. The Texans are also getting a surprising contribution from fifth-round rookie Charles Omenihu. He forced a fumble last week that put the Texans inside the Chiefs’ 5 and the team scored on the drive.
The Texans lost cornerback Bradley Roby to a significant hamstring injury and already had Johnathan Joseph struggling with a hamstring issue. What is the outlook at the cornerback position and who will we be likely to see on Sunday?
If Joseph does not play, expect second-round rookie Lonnie Johnson to get T.Y. Hilton as his assignment. Johnson started off the season slow but has shown some promise in recent weeks. He had a strong game last week in the absence of J-Jo and Roby but as a rookie, he worries me still. Hilton is no easy task and the Colts should target him early and often if they want to win this game.
The offensive line has long been an issue in Houston, but over the past couple weeks, it seems as though there has been marked improvement as Laremy Tunsil gets his bearings and the unit begins to gel. How much of an impact do you anticipate the short-term loss of first round pick Tytus Howard to be at the right tackle spot?
The Texans are beginning to figure it out. Expect Roderick Johnson to slot himself in at RT but don’t expect the Texans to skip too many beats. Another reason why the O-Line looks better is because Deshaun Watson is getting the ball out much quicker and making smarter decisions in shorter amounts of time.
Despite being a very good passer in 2018, Deshaun Watson seems to have taken yet another step forward and placed himself solidly in the MVP discussion, but DeAndre Hopkins is on pace for one of his worst statistical years since Brock Osweiler was the starting QB. Is this a byproduct of spreading the ball around and having more weapons or is Hopkins struggling?
Simply put, Hopkins is struggling. He is by no means having a bad year but he set the bar so high for himself that anything short of spectacular is a disappointment with him. More weapons are being utilized and TE is one of the best units on the team and that does take some targets away from Nuk but Watson is not going to him any less than he did a year ago.
The Colts have struggled a bit this season with kicker issues, and it seems that the Texans have had a bit of the same with Ka’imi Fairbairn missing 4 extra points and 3 field goals this season, with 4 of those misses coming in the past two weeks. Do you anticipate the Texans needing to make a change at kicker?
I think Fairbairn’s seat is as hot as ever. The team could make a change after another poor performance but he has yet to cost the Texans any games with his leg, and I think that’s part of the reason why he’s still around. The Texans are not afraid to cut players after bad games, Aaron Colvin and Trevor Daniel learned that the hard way this season, but I think the team still really believes in Fairbairn.
Bonus: Prediction and score
Colts 27, Texans 21