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Houston Texans: Keke Coutee remains the biggest deep ball threat

Connor Phillips

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The Houston Texans have lost Will Fuller for the season because of injury but who’s the biggest deep ball threat now for the team. Let’s take a look at why Keke Coutee is edging quality production above Demaryius Thomas.

When Will Fuller tore his ACL during the Houston Texans’ win over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football Oct. 25, the Texans scrambled to find wide receiver depth.  Just hours before the trade deadline, Houston offloaded a pair of 2019 draft picks to acquire Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos.  At the time of the trade, some analysts believed that the Texans made such a move in order to replace the production void that would be left by Will Fuller.  However, Houston already had Fuller’s replacement on their 53-man roster: Keke Coutee.

Will Fuller is best known for ability to take the top off a defense with his game-breaking speed.  Coutee, who ran a blistering 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine this past spring, also possesses elite speed.  The Texans were enamored with Coutee’s big-play ability and saw him as their slot receiver of the future, so they elected to spend a fourth-round selection on the Texas Tech product.  Coutee’s potency as a deep threat allowed him to rack up 1,429 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns during his junior season in Lubbock.

However, in order to succeed at the NFL level, a speed-oriented slot receiver must have the ability to separate from defenders.  Though Fuller is utilized as the Texans’ “Z” (outside) receiver, he consistently shows that he can separate from opposing cornerbacks.  In fact, Fuller is ranked in the top 25 percent of NFL pass-catchers in terms of yards of separation per route, according to the NFL’s Next Gen Stats.  Thus, in order to effectively replace Fuller’s production, Coutee needs to separate from defenders on a consistent basis.  Thankfully for Houston, Coutee’s yards of separation per route heading into Monday night’s contest with the Tennessee Titans is 4.3, good for the second-best mark in the league.

Coutee has turned that consistent separation into quality production at the professional level.  In his first-ever NFL contest, Coutee caught 11 passes for 109 yards, breaking Andre Johnson’s record for most catches in a Texans debut.  Over the course of the four full games in which he has played, Coutee has recorded 25 catches for 270 yards.  His production in those four weeks actually eclipses that of Demaryius Thomas (15 catches for 247 yards).

This is not to say that the Thomas acquisition was an ill-advised move by the Texans.  On the contrary, acquiring an outside receiver like Thomas allows Coutee to continue to play in his natural slot position.  In addition, though he is more of a decoy than a deep threat nowadays, Thomas can still use his elite ball skills to make contested sideline catches.  The four-time Pro Bowler’s skill set perfectly complements that of Coutee, whose upper-echelon speed and agility make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.

The Texans are on the cusp of reaching the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.  Though Will Fuller has been lost for the year, Keke Coutee should be ready to make up for Fuller’s lost production as Houston gears up for the season’s home stretch.  The only things that might keep Coutee from being extremely productive during the Texans’ remaining games are Coutee’s nagging hamstring issues and coach Bill O’Brien’s game plans; Houston would do well to make Coutee heavily involved in the latter.

However, Coutee has only appeared in six games this season because of lingering hamstring injuries.  In fact, he had to exit last night’s game early because of the malady.  It will be important to keep an eye on his status through the rest of the season as he can still pose a significant threat if healthy.

So what do you think?  Go on and comment in the section below.

Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]

I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in the Spring of 2018 with a degree in International Economics and I’m currently pursuing an M.S. in Management, also at Notre Dame. Given my ties to the Fighting Irish, it should come as no surprise that Will Fuller is my favorite player on the Texans. When I’m not watching professional or college athletics, I enjoy writing and playing the piano.

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans

Brian K. Patterson

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Brian K. Patterson

Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans.  After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season

Joseph Esquivel-Murphy

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.

The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.

DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.

While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.

Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.

In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.

His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.

An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.

Ronald Darby and Lamarcus Joyner are the best players available in free agency that can cover receivers in the slot and both players should be targeted by Bill O’Brien.

The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.

What do you think?  Feel free to comment in the section below.

Interested in writing for Locked On Texans?  Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses

Brian K. Patterson

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season?  Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant.  What’s the best way to improve the offensive line?  Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?

How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard?  The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time.  What else?  Take a listen to find out more!

Subscribe to us daily on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Tunein or the Google Podcast app.
Email [email protected] or call (903) 265-9629 for Questions or Comments.
Follow us on Twitter @LockedonTexans, @HSTPodcast @HouseofHouston & @LockedonNFLNet

 

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs

Brian K. Patterson

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Houston Texans
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season?  They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue.  Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish.  Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility?  Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?

The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move.  Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL.   What else?  Take a listen to find out more!

Subscribe to us daily on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Tunein or the Google Podcast app.
Email [email protected] or call (903) 265-9629 for Questions or Comments.
Follow us on Twitter @LockedonTexans, @HSTPodcast @HouseofHouston & @LockedonNFLNet

 

 

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