What We Saw: Week 2

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from a crazy Week 2

Texans @ Broncos

Final Score: Broncos 16, Texans 9

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)


An instantly forgettable Week 2 encounter between the rebuilding Houston Texans and the impoverished yet expectant Denver Broncos fell in favor of the home team as Russell Wilson handed first time Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett his first win in Colorado, the final score 16-9. Wilson connected with backup tight end Eric Saubert early in the fourth quarter to throw the game’s only touchdown and it proved to be the difference in a game blighted by poor play calling, inaccurate quarterback play and a gluttony of penalties.

Neither quarterback achieved more than a 50% completion rate and the two teams combined for 22 penalties totalling 194 yards. It was grim to watch, especially on third downs, with the Texans converting just two of 13 opportunities and the Broncos going three of 12. One of those conversions was crucial in settling the game however, as Wilson finally found a target deep down field with a 35-yard completion to Courtland SuttonΒ on 3rd & 16 putting them deep in Houston territory. The ensuing touchdown put the Broncos in control and David Mills could not answer the call for the Texans, who struggled mightily on offense and were completely overwhelmed on the offensive line.

It wasn’t pretty but the social media team in Denver got it spot on…



Houston Texans




Davis Mills: 19/38, 177 Yards | 2 Carries, 1 Yard

Jeff Driskel: 1 Carry, 10 Yards


After an accomplished performance against the Colts last week, this was a step back for Davis Mills, who admittedly had to negotiate a swarming Denver defensive front on most plays – his offensive line, and especially Laremy Tunsil, were horrific for much of the day. Mills failed to deliver on intermediate-to-deep passes on almost every drive, and his short passing game was hampered often by penalties. The second drive of the day was a perfect example – Mills was methodical in manoeuvring the Texans into Broncos territory but stuttered when asked to hit a couple of routine throws down the middle. Closer to half time, Mills once again moved the team into Denver territory after connecting with Brandin Cooks on a screen, but a scramble from the quarterback inside the 15-yard was called back by a Tunsil hold. Frustrating.

As the game developed in the second half, the Texans kept going backwards. The last four drives finished with punt, punt, and then two turnovers on downs. Mills only got inside the Denver red zone once (on the back of an interception at the start of the second half), and on that occasion he had 1st & Goal from the 4-yard line. Lovie Smith ended up kicking a field goal early in the second half. Mills doesn’t have the luxury of regular trips to the red zone so the play calling here was baffling. Then again, with this type of protection what can he do?



Mills impressed down the stretch in 2021 but so far this year he has looked subdued, stifled and nervy when the game has been on the line. Still, his supporting cast is still sub-par.


Running Back


Dameon Pierce: 15 Carries, 69 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards

Rex Burkhead: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 9 Yards


Dameon Pierce was supposed to be the lead back in Houston but his usage today was extremely curious. It doesn’t read too well for “complete back” status, with Pierce seeing only one involvement in third down passing situations and was completely out of the game during the 2-minute drill. Due to the offensive line struggles, Pierce was up against a wall for the majority of his early down carries, and the first two drives of the day ended with him being stuffed in short yardage situations.



Pierce did have a couple of tough, determined runs including this nice 12-yard gain on the Texans’ first scoring drive. After this, however, he only touched the ball once more in the next 9 plays of the drive. Inexcusable stuff from offensive coordinator Tim Kelly.



Rex Burkhead was essentially on the field for third down passing situations, not so much a s a check down option but as an extra route runner for Mills’ third or fourth reads. He never got that far though.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Nico Collins: 9 Targets, 4 Receptions, 58 Yards

Brandin Cooks: 10 Targets, 4 Receptions, 54 Yards

Pharaoh Brown: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 24 Yards

Chris Moore: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 14 Yards

O.J. Howard: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards

Brevin Jordan: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 3 Yards


It is a miserable thing to say but Mills threw nearly half his total 177 yards in the last two drives of the game. The offense was more than conservative, I would say it was cowardly at times, particularly early in the second half. This is a major issue and something that wasn’t the case down the stretch in 2021 when the “pressure was off” so to speak. It’s lazy to say the Texans don’t have playmakers, they do. And Brandin Cooks is a superstar who should be a focal point of the offense. But, it felt today that this game plan was aimed at staying in touch with the opposition than establishing their own identity.

Cooks was guilty of failing to haul in a rare Mills throw in the end zone – the pass was thrown a little low but a player of Cooks’ calibre should have hauled it in.




Two-touchdown hero O.J. Howard was nowhere to be seen in this outing as the Texans rarely threatened in the end zone. Instead, Nico Collins was the targeted man when a big play was needed. Mills needed to push the ball further downfield like he did late on, with Collins running some nice routes and showing his ability to get open.




Mills too often rushed his throws after early pressure affected his mindset and thus his footwork and accuracy suffered. Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly needs to study this tape closely and provide his receivers with more opportunities deeper down the field as they have the skillsets to hurt secondaries. The Broncos lost star corner Patrick Surtain II in this game but Kelly never looked like trying to take advantage of that.


Denver Broncos




Russell Wilson: 14/31, 219 Yards, 1 TD, 1 Int | 2 Carries, 3 Yards


The offensive indecisiveness that plagued the opening loss to the Seahawks reared its ugly head for much of this contest for Nathaniel Hackett and his quarterback Russell Wilson – Denver punted three times and twice drove inside Houston’s 5-yard line in the first half only to come away with two field goals. Both these drives involved timeouts for reasons that can only be assigned to confusion in the play calling. A cascade of boos rang out until a fourth quarter uptick in production that eventually gave Wilson the win – after four straight completions, Wilson lofted a beautiful pass into the end zone for Eric Saubert to go up and grab for the score.



Issues were not just confined to the play calling as Wilson suffered once again behind a porous offensive line that allowed too many rushers to reach their quarterback. Wilson was sacked three times, including late in the fourth quarter in alarming fashion.



Facing regular pressure, Wilson also threw his first interception of the season, although wide receiver Courtland Sutton did not do his quarterback any favors when trying to protect this ball in a contested catch with coverage all around him.



Wilson’s chemistry with Sutton was encouraging, however.




Running Back


Javonte Williams: 15 Carries, 75 Yards | 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 10 Yards

Melvin Gordon III: 10 Carries, 47 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 6 Yards

Montrell Washington: 1 Carries, 19 Yards | 1 Target


The offseason hype around Javonte Williams taking over this backfield has suddenly muted after the Broncos have failed to move the ball effectively through the air and on the ground. Elite production has yet to materialize and despite a healthy 5 yards per carry on this performance most of those yards came on two separate runs of 15 and 17 yards on two drives that then saw Melvin Gordon III takeover duties for subsequent carries. Williams worked the limited holes well in those two runs.



What is more worrying is that the Broncos were goal-to-go on first down three times and Williams only got one carry with Hackett preferring passing plays in those situations. A lack of targets out of the backfield further clouds the outlook for the undoubtedly most-talented back in Denver. It’s only two games and so far he is out-touching Gordon significantly so you have to hope that as Hackett starts to ramp up the offense, Williams will only benefit. He was underused today and should have been given multiple chances to hit paydirt. Wilson missed the opportunity to fire the ball in for Williams to run it in late in the half.




Gordon did start a number of series in this contest so he still has a significant role, however his production last year was boosted by short-yardage and goal line scores, something the Broncos look a long way from repeating right now. Gordon looked pedestrian at best on his carries in early downs especially.

Montrell Washington had a big rushing play called back for holding in the first quarter. Other than that, he wasn’t really a factor.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Courtland Sutton: 1 Carry, 5 Yards | 11 Targets, 7 Receptions, 122 Yards

Tyrie Cleveland: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 28 Yards

Eric Saubert: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 22 Yards, 1 TD

Kendall Hinton: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 20 Yards

Jerry Jeudy: 1 Carry, 1 Yard | 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 11 Yards

Albert Okwuegbunam: 2 Targets, 0 Receptions, 0 Yards

Andrew Beck: 1 Carry, -1 Yards


The big takeaway from this contest was the injury to exciting slot receiver Jerry Jeudy – the former Alabama wideout was targeted three times on five routes before leaving the field in the first quarter after an injury to his ribs. It’s another huge blow to this stuttering offense.




Courtland Sutton took the large share of the workload with Jeudy exiting, catching seven of his 11 targets for 122 yards. Sutton had a couple of targets in the red zone and was targeted twice in Wilson’s three incompletions from inside the Texans’ 5-yard line, including one catch where Sutton failed to get his left foot down inbounds for the score.




Sutton was marshalled well by Texans No.3 overall pick Derek Stingley Jr., who went up to bat away this pass intended for the big receiver after a promising drive from Wilson early in the game.



Outside of Sutton, targets were scattered amongst a relatively unestablished group of receivers and the Andrew Beck breakout failed to show after a promising start in Week 1. Probably the most disappointing aspect was the lack of involvement for Albert Okwuegbunam, who saw just two targets and failed to haul either of them in. One was a drop he should have held on to.

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