The Dallas Cowboys defense have yet another challenge to prepare for as the team heads down south to battle the Houston Texans in a Lone Star State clash. Last week, the defense needed to find ways to stop Matthew Stafford and his weapons on the outside. This week, Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins will look to put up points.
Houston has struggled to get going in 2018, but their offense continues to light up the scoreboard, only being held to less than 20 points in one of their first four games, including putting up 37 in an overtime win versus the Colts last Sunday. As you can see, Kris Richard and Rod Marinelli have their hands full when coming up with a way to stop the Texans from getting into the end zone.
Watson was on his way to an electric rookie season before going down with a torn ACL last October. Hopkins is regarded as one of the elite wideouts in the game. While those two will obviously get a lot of attention, the Cowboys need to be aware of a sneaky good weapon that made his NFL debut in the previously mentioned OT win in week four.
Keke Coutee, a Texas Tech Red Raiders product, was drafted by the Houston Texans in the fourth round in this past draft. Known for his 4.43 speed, Coutee was brought into Houston in hopes of adding another element of explosiveness around quarterback Watson.
Unfortunately, it took until week four for Coutee to see the field in the NFL due to some injuries that kept him out of parts of training camp. He certainly made the most of it:
#Texans WR Keke Coutee was the focal point of the Houston offense in his NFL debut. Coutee was used creatively all over the formation and Houston didn't even utilize his deep speed to take the lid off of the defense.— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) October 1, 2018
-2 Yards pic.twitter.com/TcnGOOp5tV
The speedy target grabbed 11 passes in week four’s dramatic win over the AFC South foe Indianapolis Colts, breaking Andre Johnson’s franchise record for most receptions in a debut.
While Bill O’Brien did not dial up any deep shots for Watson to take in Coutee’s direction, Houston did find different ways to get the ball in the speedster’s hands. Here, the Texans are able to get Coutee out on the outside, and he does the rest en route to picking up a first down and moving the chains.
Cowboys are going to need to be prepared for Keke Coutee on Sunday. Texans were able to get the ball to the rookie in a variety of different ways. pic.twitter.com/2PCKNiPA9b— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) October 5, 2018
Watson looked Coutee’s way a couple of different times in the overtime period as well, and the rookie was able to pick up a first down here:
Houston made it a priority to get the ball in Coutee’s hands last week so that he could use his speed in the open-field, either by using him on jet-sweeps or with quick routes.— Cole Patterson (@colelpatterson) October 5, 2018
Here, he picks up a big first down in OT: pic.twitter.com/6uWR3ABA6Z
How many different ways did Houston find to get the ball in their rookie’s hands? Take a look for yourself. Hint: the Texans were wanting to get the ball in the former Texas Tech star’s hands quickly.
According to #NextGenStats, Keke Coutee had the 2nd highest separation/tgt (5.2), 4th lowest air yards/tgt (2.3), and 3rd highest xYAC (10.6) among WR/TEs in Week 4.— Keegan Abdoo (@KeeganAbdoo) October 2, 2018
The Texans designed a lot of plays the ball to Coutee in space, using a lot of jet motion, screens, and swings. pic.twitter.com/5f9O9Ct8it
It’s easy to see that the Texans have a high priority in getting Coutee in the open field — and for good reason, as he showed in his first game. In addition to recording the second-highest separation per target in week four, Coutee averaged just over eight yards per touch against the Colts. Although he did not reach the end zone, Coutee had a big impact on the game.
Some of that may have to do with just how bad the Colts are, sure, but Coutee is an electric playmaker that appears to be capable of making big plays for the Texans. Deandre Hopkins is the obvious alpha-dog that can take over a game and Will Fuller is a big-play threat when healthy, but this rookie is yet another weapon on the Texans offense that warrants attention.
With Sean Lee still sidelined, the Cowboys linebackers must have great eye-discipline when Coutee goes in motion — when he gets the ball or when he is used as a decoy to draw the defense up and free throwing lanes for Watson.
The Cowboys may be the best defense that Houston has seen this year, and the Texans are arguably the most dynamic offense that Dallas will have lined up against up to this point in 2018. It should be a fun battle on Sunday Night Football.