In week 11 of the 2017 NFL season the 3-6 Houston Texans played the 4-5 Arizona Cardinals at NRG Stadium, as the Texans came out on top 31-21. Third string quarterback Blaine Gabbert faced the physical Houston defense while second string quarterback Tom Savage faced the athletic and feisty Arizona defense. This game was set up perfectly for Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson to burn the Texans on the ground, for DeAndre Hopkins and Patrick Peterson to have a great matchup, and for two quarterbacks to prove that they belong in the NFL.

Week 11 Houston Texans Takeaways

Not so Terrible Tom

Tom Savage is still not the man, but he’s getting better at faking it. Savage completed 23 of 32 passes for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Now, before Savage at quarterback sounds like a good idea, keep in mind that he was sacked, resulting in a fumble that led to a Cardinals touchdown and threw a pick which later turned into a Cardinals touchdown.

With all that said, this was by far the best Savage has played as a pro. Some of his throws were as errant as they could be and a handful of them were right on the money. Another positive from today’s game was the great chemistry on display between Savage and star receiver Hopkins. Overall, if Savage can play this way consistently, the rest of the games will be worth watching.

Gobbling Up Peterson

Today was not Peterson’s day. His stat line reads 14 carries for 26 yards and zero touchdowns. Averaging 1.9 yards per carry, Peterson was completely stonewalled for the entirety of the game. He had a grand total of three runs which legitimately generated concern for the Houston defensive backs because he slipped past the defensive line without getting touched.

The defensive line, led by second year nose-guard D.J. Reader, would have received an A plus performance grade from if they had just a little bit more productivity in rushing the passer. But that’s just being a hyper-critical fan. Inexperience on the edge was not apparent today with Brennan Scarlett and Ufomba Kamalu playing opposite Jadeveon Clowney. All three outside linebackers did fantastic jobs setting hard edges making Peterson, or whoever the ball carrier was, turn upfield into the heart of the Texans defense.

Hopkins-Ellington Attack

Hopkins will get his (four catches for 76 yards and a score) but did anyone think little Bruce Ellington would go for six catches, 63 yards and one carry for three yards? His day started off with an-almost-safety that resulted in the Texans first drive beginning inside the one. Outside of that one gaff, he balled out today. An overlooked quality he brings is his the way he utilizes his speed inside of the scheme. He runs what is called a zip-motion on almost every inside zone run the Texans call. That window dressing of a distraction is what freezes the linebackers and safeties for a split second on those plays.

Looking Forward

As the Houston Texans progress through their schedule they will see that their next test will be a cold, tough, purple one. The next game will be at the Baltimore Ravens on a Monday night. The biggest challenge in that game will most likely be getting the ground game going early and often. John Harbaugh will have his defense ready for a physical, nasty, slobber-knocker game.

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