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Value of Things: Roses and Thorns Titans vs. Texans

There are days when this job is harder than others. Today is one of those days. Finding roses in a performance like Sunday’s can be difficult, but there are always silver linings in every cloud. As we’ve been indicating all week, the final score of 17-10 didn’t really indicate how badly the Houston Texans were shot on Sunday.

However, there are always positives and PFF always strives to find those positives every week. So we start with the top five Texans and go from there. You’ll start to see a theme when you see the top five guys and Sunday was no different. Notice which position groups they come from.

The first five

Laremy Tunsil— 84.8

Steven Nelson—83.5

Brandin Cooks—72.7

OJ Howard—72.5

Desmond King—71.1

The Texans and Nick Caserio have built a good secondary. They’ve spent most of their free agents and recruiting resources there, so at least they’re getting something for their investment. Jalen Pitre had two tackles for a loss in addition to Nelson’s interception. If there is a silver lining, that’s where it is.

Tunsil has been here all season. He was much maligned at the start of the season and there are always his detractors, but he is the fourth ranked tackle according to PFF and has appeared in the top five almost every week. Simply put, it could very well be just the Texans Pro-Bowl player after the season.

Biggest Offensive Improvement – OJ Howard

I’m breaking up with some of my colleagues over Nick Caserio’s performance. To put it simply, he drafted too well and added too many decent free agents to fully ignite. Howard is one of those guys. He’s not a Pro Bowl player and maybe not a starter for most teams, but the Texans aren’t most teams. He is a good element of depth in a team that lacks quality depth.

Greatest Offensive Cup – Kenyon Green

He’s been on this list for two weeks in a row. PFF has its own magic formula, so I don’t know if it would be universally accepted. What we do know is that the running game and the passing game weren’t working and constant penetration was one of the many reasons why. Scott Quessenberry was second on this list, so you get the general idea.

Biggest Defensive Improvement – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Okoronkwo represents the kind of free agent this team should sign. He was a good performer in a big team and they just couldn’t get him in for a second contract. He is a rotation player, but all defensive ends are. He got big numbers for the Rams in terms of PFF ratings in limited time and it looks like he’s starting to hit his stride in Houston.

The Greatest Defensive Goblet – Roy Lopez

It’s hard to get mad at players like Roy Lopez and Kurt Hinish. One is a sixth-rounder and the other is an undrafted free agent. You’re hoping for depth and rotation players in these rounds. Maybe they can be key players on special teams. You don’t expect starters and you certainly don’t expect them to come out and stop a fullback like Derrick Henry. Lopez got a sack, so it wasn’t too bad, but those defensive tackles were repelled like sacks of potatoes.

The Mills Report

Officially, Davis Mills went from the 14th best quarterback to the 16th best quarterback in the league according to PFF. Again, I’m not sure what they’re looking at. I suspect they look around for talent around him. Nico Collins was on the shelf, so it wasn’t like the running and shooting days there. Still, Mills didn’t look like your average quarterback.

21 quarterbacks have started every game for their teams this year. If you combine rushing and passing (since most teams have quarterbacks who can do both), we could see where Mills ranks in total yards, touchdowns (rushing and passing), interceptions, yards per attempt, rushing percentage. completion, quarterback rating and ESPN QBR. Keep in mind that Jacoby Brissett has started every game, but is really a backup. Here are Mills’ numbers with his ranking among those 21 quarterbacks in parentheses.

Total Yards: 1,512 (Last Dead Ass)

Total TDs: 8 (T-19e)

Interceptions: 6 (T-12e)

PCT: 63.1 (15th)

API: 6.4 (T-19e)

QBR: 81.9 (20th)

ESPN: 31.7 (DAL)

So if we keep track, we see that he finished last in ESPN rankings and total yards. He has a worse quarterback than him in total touchdowns, interceptions, yards per attempt and traditional QBR. I don’t know how it averages out, but maybe someone is smarter than me.

If we want to try this another way, we could look at the stat markers that the majority of quarterbacks on the roster exceed, and then see how close Mills is to meeting those markers. Sometimes it might just take a good game or two, sometimes there’s no way it’s getting there. So I offer the round base numbers with the number of quarters that exceed those numbers in parentheses.

Total yards: 2,000 (10)

Total number of DTs: 10 (14)

IN: 5 (11)

PCT: 65.0 (12)

API: 7.0 (11)

QBR: 90.0 (12)

ESPN: 50.0 (12)

At least half of the quarterbacks not counting Mills meet each of these markers. He does not reach any of them and some of them he is not particularly close to. You can blame Pep Hamilton. You can blame Nick Caserio. You could blame Brandin Cooks. You could blame the offensive line. You can blame any or all of these things. They all play a role. Suffice it to say he just isn’t there.