Just like Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns I’m baaaack… with a few more keys to beating the Colts of course.
First. Limit T.Y. Hilton (somehow)
Seriously, whatever it takes to cover T.Y. Hilton, do it.
T.Y. Hilton has put up some monster stats in 14 career games versus the Texans. In each of those games, he is averaging 103.21 yards and .64 touchdowns. His career highs in receiving yards (223) and touchdowns (3) also came against the Texans.
In the Texans most recent game against the Colts, Hilton caught 9 balls for 199 yards. Like previous games, Hilton was paired against Jonathan Joseph. While Joseph is an excellent corner, he doesn’t have the speed (or quickness) that Hilton has. And neither do any of the Texans cornerbacks.
This means that the Texans will have to get creative on how to cover him. Pairing Hilton against Mathieu in the slot might be the best option, as Mathieu is one of those players that’s built to defend slot receivers like Hilton. But Hilton doesn’t just line up in the slot.
Using bracket coverage with whichever corner lined up against him and Justin Reid/Andre Hal will also be used frequently. But Justin Reid will need to step up from his most recent performance against the Colts.
Ultimately limiting T.Y. Hilton will be a group effort. Starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Jonathan Joseph must continue playing at a high level. And safeties Justin Reid, Tyranne Mathieu, and Andre Hal will need to pick up the slack on bracket (double) and nickel back (slot) coverage, though I expect Mathieu to receive the majority of snaps as the nickel back.
2. Contain Andrew Luck
No, I’m not talking about containing his arm (which is way too obvious). Instead, I’m talking about containing him inside the pocket. Containing the pocket means that the edge defenders will need to enforce their lanes outside the tackles, then shrink the pocket. While this is easier said than done, Romeo Crennel has three premier pass rushers (Watt, Clowney, Mercilus) to work with.
While Luck is not the dual threat like Deshaun, he is mobile enough to pull in defenders, which in turn open space for his receivers.
Andrew Luck is one of the best at passing on the run, so assigning a quarterback spy, and containing the edge could limit his opportunities to do so.
3. Take advantage of soft zone coverage.
Darius Leonard alone can’t make up for the constant lapses in the Colts zone coverage. And boy does Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus loves to drop his linebackers and corners in soft zone coverage. The Texans should take advantage of that by using tight ends on quick routes.
Well actually, the Texans have done just that in the past.
In their previous two meetups combined, Texans tight ends have racked up a total of 187 yards on 14 catches. And with the seasoning of rookies Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas, I expect for tight ends to be a key in beating the Colts defense.
Constant dump offs to tight ends will also help the Texans in controlling the tempo of the game while giving clear reads to Deshaun Watson.
So there you have it, beating the Colts will be tough. But now you can know what you’re talking about (kinda) when discussing the game plan with your football genius friends.