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Offensive line struggles continue
Welcome back to our weekly diagnosis of the Houston Texans offensive line ills. This week features the return of the infamous right tackle Chris Clark, putrid attempts by Zach Fulton, oh and more Chris Clark…
Good news does come out of NRG this week as both Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard practiced. Howard has missed the last two games since suffering a partially torn MCL against the Chiefs. Though he is doubtful to travel to London for this week’s game, he should be ready for Baltimore after the bye week.
Tunsil went down with a shoulder injury against the Raiders and didn’t return, this seems to be more of a precautionary measure than anything else. He’s expected to suit up in London and start at left tackle.
Sack #20: Haskins Wheels Around Fulton
This is one of the Texans bread-and-butter plays, so when they presented it to the Raiders on 1st and 10 on their opening drive, the Raiders were prepared to stop it. A play action pass with Kenny Stills and DeAndre Hopkins running deep crossing routes was the call. This play in particular requires quite some time to develop. Deshaun Watson was limited in options to go to when he was flushed out of the pocket by pressure.
No need to overthink this call here. Right guard Zach Fulton gets completely stifled by Johnathan Haskins on the play. Fulton’s job is to get in front of Haskins and force him to over-adjust, which would purposely run him out of the play. Basically Fulton and Haskins are in a race for about one foot and who ever wins will win the play. Haskins beat Fulton by a mile. Watson, as he does so often, mitigates the damage and scrambles forward for only a three-yard loss.
Sack #21: Chris Clark Gets Burned Like Bark
It’s 3rd and 11 from the Texans own 24, empty backfield, and the Raiders are only rushing four. There’s nothing wrong with Clark’s form expect for everything. He crosses his feet, he is standing too tall, he lets the defender get into his body, and he loses balance. Who allowed this guy back on the field?
Benson Mayowa takes Clark on a joy ride all the way to Watson for a sack. If the less-than one week of practice didn’t knock the dust off Clark’s pads, this bull rush certainly did. This is a matter of leverage and Clark has none.
Mayowa is the Raiders best pass rusher, so why on O’Brien’s green grass was Clark left alone on this play?
From the overhead view of the play, Watson is looking to go deep with several options on the table. The Raiders are playing a soft zone, so Watson knows there are opportunities underneath and over the top. It’s just a matter of identifying the hole and getting the ball there. With Clark’s meltdown against a superior individual pass rusher, there’s no chance for Watson to read the defense properly.
Sack #22 Clark Can’t Handle the Speed
First power, now speed. Is there anything Clark can stop?
Someone must have stuck glue on Clark’s feet before this play because they looked like they were stuck to the ground. On another 3rd and 11 Watson only has his five lineman to stop the Raiders four pass rushers. After watching this play, the Texans are praying for Howard to be back and sure up the right tackle position.
At around the 1.25 second mark, Clark does not open up his hips to be able to run vertically with Mayowa. The Texans do a fine job of managing the stunt pass rush technique on the left side of the offensive line, but when Mayowa’s pressure forces Watson into a frenzy, the defenders are too deep in the backfield for Watson to know who is where.
It’s miraculous that Greg Mancz, Seantrel Henderson, and Chris Clark all have only played one game this season, but each but account for over 27% of the sacks this year. Goes to show that one weak link can sink the whole ship. The Texans can bet the house on Laremy Tunsil, but until they get the entire offensive line fixed it doesn’t really matter.
The title of “The Sack-rificial Lamm” for the 2019 season remains in the hands of backup center Greg Mancz. Though we could easily see him unseated as the Texans take on the Jacksonville Jaguars who racked up four sacks in our Week Two matchup.
Greg Mancz: 3
Laremy Tunsil: 2.5
Deshaun Watson: 2.5
Darren Fells: 2
Zach Fulton: 2
Chris Clark: 2
Tytus Howard: 1
Carlos Hyde: 1
Max Scharping: 0.5
Nick Martin: 0.5