AFC South: Brandon Pettigrew
DETROIT -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 34-31 overtime win over the Lions at Ford Field:
What it means: The Texans came from behind late again and pulled out an overtime win for the second week in a row, adding more fuel to a team-of-destiny feel. Houston is 10-1, and, no matter the results from around the rest of the conference, it will head into Week 13 with a two-game lead in the AFC race for home-field advantage in the playoffs. (Houston holds a head-to-head tiebreaker with Baltimore.)
What I liked: In a tense, tight game, Danieal Manning pulled the ball free from safety Brandon Pettigrew and Darryl Sharpton recovered it to end the first possession of overtime. The offense moved to position Shayne Graham for a 51-yard field goal attempt. But he missed wide left. Detroit got a 47-yard chance at a winning field goal, but Jason Hanson dinged the right upright. Houston then drove 49 yards in six plays to position Graham for a 32-yarder with 2:21 on the clock that won it.
What I also liked: More broadly, I liked the same things as I like in most Texans wins -- the resolve, the versatility, the ability to find the plays in the shape of the game in front of them that are needed to win it.
What I didn’t like: First and foremost, the rule that prevented a review of Justin Forsett’s 81-yard “touchdown run” where he appeared to be down. Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag. But scoring plays are automatically reviewed, and throwing the challenge flag actually negates the review possibility and earns a 15-yard penalty on the subsequent kickoff. Schwartz has to know that. But it’s still silly not to review the scoring play. The Texans got a huge break out of all of it.
What I also didn’t like: Plenty of pass defenses struggle with Calvin Johnson, but the coverage plans with corner Johnathan Joseph (hamstring) out were bad, and Megatron had a field day with eight catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Houston did do better on him in the second half, after deciding Alan Ball wasn't up to trying to cover Johnson on his own. The original plan was a poor one. After benefiting from the non-review, the Texans pulled even at 24-all. Rather than seizing control, the Texans gave up a 23-yard run up the middle for a touchdown to Joique Bell and had to fight back to evened-up again to force overtime.
Injury issues: Joseph, inside linebacker Tim Dobbins, nose tackle Shaun Cody and running back Ben Tate didn’t play. Outside linebacker Brooks Reed (groin) and right tackle Derek Newton (right knee) left the game early, and inside linebacker Bradie James suffered a hamstring injury in the second half and didn’t finish. The Texans have a mini bye now and need it to heal up.
Inevitable? The Texans had not allowed a rushing touchdown all season. They allowed two in this game, a 2-yard run by Mikel Leshoure in the first quarter and Bell’s 23-yarder in the fourth.
What’s next: The Texans play at Tennessee on Dec. 2 and at New England on "Monday Night Football" on Dec. 10.
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: History at the spot.
No. 20: Houston Texans
No. 20 has produced productive players in the last five years. Detroit tight end Brandon Pettigrew did reasonably well as a rookie. Tampa Bay corner Aqib Talib has nine picks in his first two years. Aaron Ross missed the bulk of his third season with a hamstring injury. Tamba Hali has a very respectable 27 sacks in four seasons. Dallas end Marcus Spears had only 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2009. Quality defensive backs have been there two of the last three years and that may bode well for the Texans’ chances to address corner or free safety. Two of those No. 20 picks were acquired in trades.
No. 31: Indianapolis Colts
No. 31 has produced a running back (Chris Wells to Arizona in 2009), two defensive backs (Kenny Phillips to the Giants in 2008 and Kelly Jennings to Seattle in 2006), a tight end (Greg Olsen to Chicago in 2007) and a defensive tackle (Mike Patterson to Philadelphia in 2005). Phillips was on IR most of last year, while Jennings and Patterson, a high-motor interior guy, have played in every game of their careers. Olsen’s fit with new coordinator Mike Martz is a question. I don’t think history will tell us a lot about what the Colts, firm believers in best player available, will find or do.
No. 10: Jacksonville Jaguars
There should be and will be quality options at No. 10 for the Jaguars. Recent years saw the 49ers snatch receiver Michael Crabtree, the Patriots select linebacker Jerod Mayo, the Texans pluck defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, the Cardinals grab quarterback Matt Leinart and Detroit pick receiver Mike Williams. Williams busted hard. Leinart is about to take over the job as Arizona’s starter. Okoye is still young with upside. Mayo was defensive rookie of the year. Crabtree had an ugly holdout, but San Francisco has high expectations for him in his second year. How are trade possibilities? Houston and New England got their picks in deals.
It’s a coincidence for sure, but No. 16 has been spent on a defensive player for the last five years. The scorecard: linebacker Larry English to San Diego in 2009, corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Arizona in 2008, tackle Justin Harrell to Green Bay in 2007, defensive back Jason Allen to Miami in 2006 and tackle Travis Johnson to Houston in 2005. The Titans will probably be fine extending the trend, as their biggest concerns are with rebuilding a defense that needs an end, a corner and could benefit from additions at safety and linebacker too.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Greg in Chicago writes: Been a while since I read the blog. In re: Young, Cutler, etc... congratulations. You join every generation before yours in believing that those younger than you feel entitled.
Paul Kuharsky: Point taken. I just turned 40 and find myself saying, "Kids today..." too often. Nevertheless, I stand by the opinion. Jay Cutler, Vince Young and Matt Leinart don't strike me as guys who came into the league hell-bent on earning their way and proving their worth with hard work.
Garrison in Indianapolis writes: If Edge gets released in Arizona, any chance the Colts bring him back? Given Addai's ineffectiveness since halftime of the '07 Patriots game, Edge would probably feel like he could have the chance to start or heavily contribute in a backfield committee a la Rhodes and Addai in '06. He still maintains friendships with a lot of the players on the team and his relationship with management is nice enough that he has a Colts Super Bowl ring.
Paul Kuharsky: Possible if he'd do it for cheap. His friendships with other players on the team are irrelevant in this scenario. And if the Colts draft a back, I think they'll probably consider the position addressed. Bill Polian indicated Friday he likes the crop he already has.
Kobe in Newport writes: will the jaguars still pursue michael crabtree or jeremy maclin? or will they go after sanchez? I think that getting crabtree or maclin opens up all of the options for garrard and mo-jo. That would make the offense explosive and the defense has plenty of holes but it also has playmakers. Can you give me a prediction of the jags this coming year if they get maclin or crabtree?
Paul Kuharsky: The pick could be Crabtree or Maclin if they are there. I don't see them taking Sanchez, I see them trying to trade the spot to someone who wants Sanchez.
I still think they'd be the last-place team in the division. They have a lot of issues beyond receiver and it'll be hard to address them all with one draft.
Tobin in Denver writes: Reading through the blog mock draft, and I am shocked you would make the statement that Clay Matthews is a high-character athlete. This is the same Clay Matthews that created the group, "White Nation," which featured a graphic with the caption, "arrest black babies before they become criminals" on Facebook as a junior at USC. Whether a joke or not, this is not high-character and can not be brushed aside as being a stupid college kid not knowing the extent of his actions. I can't believe every sports media outlet disregards this fact. I hope some of his new non-white teammates give him a proper welcome to the NFL.
Paul Kuharsky: A fair point for sure and I should have been more careful with my wording there. I do believe, however, that Matthews is regarded by most scouts and teams as a good-character guy who did something very stupid, not as a guy with an incident in his past that suggests a future filled with more of them.
Brian in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Would love your opinion on the new threads. To me the home jeresey looks a lot like the Eagles and the limited teal in the away is a bit confusing as Teal is supposed to be the primary. The biggest point of contention is the lack of gold in the uniform yet the logo uses it for shadow effect. I do think they look sleeker but as someone who thinks the Colts have a timeless look it is hard to fully grasp the think stripes over the thick ones.
Paul Kuharsky: I think simpler is better so I like what they've done and I don't mind the disappearance of the gold. I like the predictable home and away setup for a team without a lot of history or identity. I agree with you about the absence of teal in the road uniforms.
The pictures I've seen of the helmets haven't given me a true sense, I don't think. I worry the sparkle may make them look like the hoods of some of those Camaros from the early 80s. Look forward to seeing them in person at some OTAs in June.
Tom from Tempe, Ariz., writes: Would the jaguars have any interest in trading for a veteran like boldin? his physical style of play would do well for their offensive mindset, and as alot of people question his ability to separate from top level corners and double coverage, wouldn't the huge focus on the running game open him up alot? ... or does this scenario seem really unlikely - if they could even convince arizona to give him up.
Paul Kuharsky: No. The Jaguars are looking to stockpile picks, not deal them. If they trade two for Boldin, they've addressed wide receiver and killed their chances to effectively address a bunch of other spots like offensive line, defensive tackle and defensive back.
Andrew from parts unknown writes: With the draft this Saturday everyone is trying to fill holes left in their lineup. Who are the free agents which might fill some holes in the AFC south (especially my Texans)if the draft doesn't play out they want? I don't think this in particular would necessarily be good, but something like adding Rodney Harrison to the team to teach the young guys how to play better, add depth at a weak point and teach the team how to win when it is expected to (like against Oakland last year).
Paul Kuharsky: There are no major answers out there -- more role players, pieces and projects. Now some guys can get released after teams draft their replacements. Harrison to Houston could be intriguing, but I think they want to be younger.
But I don't believe in bringing in veterans with the objective of having them mentor. Mentoring is a nice additional bonus if they can play, but they have to be able to play. There are coaches in place to coach.
Zach in Blacksburg, Va., writes: I cannot fathom why David "Deacon" Jones is not on the list. He is arguably one of the greatest defensive ends in football history. He was drafted in the 16th round in the 14th round. Like Jerry Rice, who tops the list, he went to Mississippi Valley State (for one year). Anyone that makes an NFL team from this school is of hidden and/or underrated value. Jones not only made the LA Rams team; he made the LA Rams into a team. He is one of their greatest players of all time. As an end, he redefined the position and even contributed to football vocabulary with the term: sack. All in all, the list is good and helps show that the draft isn't over after the first round, and in the case of guys like
Jeff Saturday, the entire draft.
Paul Kuharsky: Zach is referring to this post about ESPN Stats & Information's list of the top draft values of all-time, and I chose his note to be representative of all the complaints I've gotten.
It's not a subjective list where we said "yes, yes, no, no" as we listed guys. It was the product of a specific formula created by ESPN Stats & Information -- which is thoroughly described in a box in the middle of the blog post. Based on thos criteria, the guys who didn't make the list didn't score higher than those who did.
Ben in Nashville writes: Paul, with the Falcons trading for Tony G. its beginning to look as if Brandon Pettigrew could possibly be around at 30. With Scaife being seemingly unhappy with his contract, would it not be smart to draft Pettigrew and possibly trade Scaife for a 2-4 round pick (not sure of his value)? The kid from Cal that they drafted last year seems to have limited upside and really is just another OL. Pettigrew seems to be a perfect fit for what the Titans do and is a top 15 talent in my opinion.
Paul Kuharsky: I don't think he's there at 30 -- and I agree with a recent post by NFC East mogul Matt Mosley that Philly should take him, not a running back.
If he is still on the board, it would not surprise me at all if the Titans took him.
They could carry Pettigrew, Scaife, Crumpler and Stevens this year without much issue, and be set for 2010 without Crumpler and Scaife. Or maybe they'd decide Crumpler is done in camp. Scaife is not under contract now, so he's untradeable. And once he signs the franchise deal, he's getting nearly $5 million, which people won't be anxious to trade for.
Harry in Nashville writes: Hey Paul, sorry I just missed you on the chat. Had a few questions for you though. Did VY seal his fate by making the comments about "just collecting his checks" earlier this week? Is it out of the realm of possibility that the Titans would draft a qb this year for the practice squad? Did Pacman end the chances of Percy Harvin becoming a Titan? If you were the GM would you take a CB, DE, or LB with the 1st pick?
Paul Kuharsky: Young's fate will be sealed by how he plays and acts, not by what he says in an interview.
You can't draft someone for the practice squad, anyone in the league could sign him away for his 53-man roster at any time.
If I'm the GM, I wait and see what's there. In the bloggers' mock I took Alphonso Smith.
If they don't fear Harvin -- and I believe they do -- they should.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Mike Silver's annual ultimate mock draft allows teams to pick anybody.
- The top two running backs in the draft are hardly flawless, writes McClain.
- A look at a local: John McClain on Brandon Pettigrew.
- The case for Matthew Stafford as the No. 1 pick, from McClain.
- Teams get drug test results from the combine Monday, says McClain.
- Natalie Meisler looks at Gary Kubiak's participation at a clinic at Colorado State, where two of his sons play. (Thanks for Alan Burge for pointing out the link.)
- Alan Burge doesn't want to hear pleas for patience from the Texans' defense.
- What tender did Owen Daniels get? Burge ponders conflicting reports.
- In Mike Chappell's mock, the Colts take Brian Robiskie.
- The Colts will continue to draft best player available. Chappell breaks down the roster.
- Dominic Rhodes is no longer an option for the Colts in the backfield. He signed in Buffalo, says Chappell.
- Darrius Heyward-Bey has studied Marvin Harrison as he's gotten ready for an NFL career, writes Chappell.
- A look at Tony Dungy's life after football from Jarrett Bell.
- No. 8 and No. 7 on John Oehser's list of the top 25 picks of the Bill Polian era.
- A look at centers and defensive tackles in the draft, from Oehser.
- The Colts re-signed fifth-year veteran safety Matt Giordano.
- Chris Mortensen says the Jaguars are "nearing a deal" for Torry Holt, while team sources tell Michael C. Wright that the Jaguars are "making progress" on a contract for the veteran receiver. But agent Kennard McGuire told Jim Wyatt he doesn't know where that is coming from.
- Michael C. Wright has the Jaguars taking B.J. Raji in his mock draft.
- Wright looks at Jacksonville's needs.
- Cole Pepper also contemplates the Jaguars' needs.
- Vince Young intends to shut up and work, reports Jim Wyatt.
- David Climer makes the case for the Titans to finally spend their first-rounder on a wide receiver.
- The Titans will have good options at No. 30, writes Wyatt.
- Could Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers be a fit for the Titans? Gary Estwick takes a look.
- Some Titans chime in with Wyatt with their thoughts on the draft.
- A member of the Titans' front office is rehabbing after surgery, reports Wyatt.