FILMSTUDY: Two key Texans

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Two key Texans

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I reviewed the NFL Short Cuts version of the game with the goal of focusing on 1 player on each of the offense and defense for the Texans.  The selections were relatively easy, Mario Williams on Defense and Duane Brown, their rookie LT on Offense.


Mario Williams:  Mario is an imposing physical specimen who at 6’6”, 290 lbs. would be very identifiable even if he was not wearing a number.  He had a huge game with 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 Tackles for loss, 1 QH and a FF.  A few notes:

·         Much has been made of the fact that “you don’t know where he is coming from because he lines up all over”.  In this game, he lined up 51 of 55 times at RDE and only 4 times on the left side.  That positioning may have been a case of thinking Marvel Smith was a weak link at LT.  If that was the only reason, I’d expect he’ll set up more at LDE this week.  However, I would guess he’s lined up at RDE because blind-side sacks have a much greater chance of becoming fumbles.

·         He was on the field for all but 2 plays.

·        Please understand that I am not minimizing his effort, but both of his sacks actually came on blown blocking assignments, not by beating his man 1 on 1.

o        On the first sack he cruised untouched between Marvel Smith, who picked up the LB on the outside, and Kemoeatu, who assisted on a double to the inside before realizing his mistake a moment too late.  Williams hammered the ball loose and Ryans recovered, returning it inside the PIT 10.

o        On sack number 2, the Texans rushed 6 and he went unblocked by Smith to drag down Roethlisberger

·         I expected to see a huge number of double teams, but most of the rest of the day he was singled up by Smith other than the aforementioned play, did as well as could be expected.  The Steelers ran just 20 pass plays (excluding Roeth scrambles), so he accumulated some impressive stats in limited total opportunities.

·         One reason for the singles was the propensity with which the Steelers both rolled Roethlisberger to the right and ran right.

·         I did not anticipate the motor he has.  It’s very McCrary-esque, and he obviously has significantly greater tools.  I can’t understand how this guy had just 4.5 sacks 2 years ago as a rookie.

·         Also like McCrary, he is prone to overcommitment on running plays.  Two of Parker’s TD runs went to the left, one on a draw where Williams had moved way outside on a speed rush, and another where he was easily sealed.

·         He pursues well on running plays.  A RB running up the middle and cutting 2-5 yards past the LoS has a good chance of taking a big hit.


Mario Williams is one hell of a football player, but I expect the Ravens will do what they can to tire him out.  Neal, McClain, the unbalanced line, and tackle eligible formations are all potent weapons to neutralize a great player like Williams, but that’s going to mean the Ravens need to win the other 1-on-1 matchups he creates.  Offensively, I think that will be the key for the Ravens.


Duane Brown:  He was drafted 26th overall from VA Tech, and had the unenviable task of trying to stop James Harrison, who now must be considered one of the league’s best OLB’s.  The results were almost comically bad as Brown was beaten every which way before mercifully being relieved with approximately 4 minutes to go by the "great" Ephraim Salaam whose job he was drafted to take. 
Some notes:

Harrison out-leveraged Brown all day in the pass rush.  The fact that Brown does not have prototype LT size (6’4”, 329) should have helped him against a shorter man like Harrison (6’0, 242), but Brown had a great deal of trouble getting out of his stance, square to Harrison, and at a level where he could block effectively.

·         In the first half he seemed to be overguarding the speed rush and several times allowed inside penetration.  In the second half, he “corrected” that, by being too slow reacting to the outside.

·         He was called for at least 2 penalties, and they weren’t little ones (tripping and a face mask).  There was also a false start called without a player identification.

·         I’d like to say he looked good as a run blocker, but he really did not do well there either, getting little push.

·        The Texans tried a screen pass to his side and he hustled into the 2nd level, but looked very lost trying to locate a block past the LoS and ended the play standing untouched.

·        After he allowed
Harrison’s 3rd sack he was removed.  I looked for any indication of injury in the Gamebook, but there is none noted.


I don’t actually know that Brown has not lost his job to Salaam, but if he plays, I’d expect the Texans to try and protect him with added set and chip blockers to his side.  I’d also expect Ryan to probe that side for good blitz opportunities all night, but particularly if they run the 7 DB alignment we saw Sunday.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time. If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens. More from Ken McKusick


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