As we sift through the aftermath of the Texans' loss (I promise, I will begin to look ahead to the Titans tomorrow), and try to find positives, there are a few things to feel pretty good about. Tyler Ervin looked like he might pop one or two big ones this season in the return game, the rookie class acquitted itself pretty well overall, and J.J. Watt in that second half ... [this is where I would put the smiley emoji with the hearts for eyes].
And then there was the offensive line, which overall wasn't that bad! Yeah, you heard me, a Houston Texans' offensive line did some good things! First off, the Texans ran the ball 34 times for 167 yards, a 4.9 yards per carry average. Even better, on conventional runs from Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue (as opposed to Watson's scrambling or a -7 yard reverse to DeAndre Hopkins), the Texans gained 134 yards on 25 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
Now, the pass protection was shaky from their young offensive tackles, Martinas Rankin and Julien Davenport...
Total pressures/sacks allowed by the #Texans offensive line vs. Pats— PFF HOU Texans (@PFF_Texans) September 11, 2018
Davenport - 9/2
Fulton - 1/0
Martin - 1/0
Kelemete - 3/0
Rankin - 4/1
But some of that was Deshaun Watson holding onto the ball too long....
#Texans QB Deshaun Watson had a time to throw of 3.23, which is the second-highest of any QB from Week 1 with at least 20 dropbacks.— PFF HOU Texans (@PFF_Texans) September 11, 2018
Throws less than 2.5 seconds - 10/11 1 TD 129.9 NFL Passer Rating
Throws more than 2.5 seconds - 7/23 1 Int 25.5 NFL PRhttps://t.co/WexmrNQrGR
So, all in all, not a horrible week for what was easily the most scrutinized and criticized part of the team coming into the 2018 season. Beyond all that, if you want to feel better about this offensive line, then remember one thing — they are not LAST YEAR'S OFFENSIVE LINE. Four of the five starters have been swapped out, and the four who were discarded by the Texans were all unemployed heading into Sunday's games. How incredible (and scary) is that? The league has basically spoken, and they're saying that the Texans were STARTING an offensive line largely comprised of guys who shouldn't even be PLAYING PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL (at least not in America... shout out to Johnny Manziel!)
For a refresher, here are the players who started a majority of the games at each position on the line last season, and where they are now....
CHRIS CLARK, LT
2017 Starts: 9
2017 PFF Score: 51.0
Clark is an older player (drafted in 2008), so chances are, he is done, although he was in the building at NRG Stadium yesterday working out for the Texans. He started nine games for the Texans last season at left tackle, which puts him easily ahead of Julien Davenport (3), Jeff Allen (2), Duane Brown (1), and Kendall Lamm (1), who started the opener, gave up an ungodly number of sacks to the Jags, and rarely saw the field again.
XAVIER SU'A-FILO, LG
2017 Starts: 16
2017 PFF Score: 53.5
You could make a case that Su'a-Filo, the 33rd overall pick in 2014, is the worst draft pick in team history, with the most number of excuses made for a drafted player in team history. The Texans let him walk this offseason, he was signed and released by the Titans. But on Monday, we got this...
NICK MARTIN, C
2017 Starts: 14
2017 PFF Score: 62.7
Martin is the one holdover, and he has to feel like Andy Dufresne escaping Shawshank, to go from Su'a-Filo and Jeff Allen to Zach Fulton and Senio Kelemete as the guards surrounding him. Martin needs a big season, though, as the 2019 offseason would be a logical time to extend his contract, if he deserves it.
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JEFF ALLEN, RG
2017 Starts: 9
2017 PFF Score: 50.2
Allen was part of the free agent class in 2016 that was headlined by Brock Osweiler, so it will be impossible for him to be the worst signing in his own free agent class. That said, he would be the worst on most any team that didn't sign Brock Osweiler the same day. He is currently unemployed.
BRENO GIACOMINI, RT
2017 Starts: 16
2017 PFF Score: 45.6
Breno Giacomini will remain one of football's great miracles — a big, supposedly tough offensive tackle, who played LITERALLY every single snap of the 2017 season, and was a team captain, despite showing zero ability to run, block or protect the passer. He deserves his own "30 for 30."
So see, Texan fans, it could be worse! You could be a Cowboy fan wondering "Who in the blue hell is Xavier Su'a-Filo?" (Oh you'll find out, Cowboy Fan. You'll find out.)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.