I sat down with new Texans rookie 5th round pick, WR Isaiah Coulter and broke down 10 plays from his college career. He explained what was going through his mind on each play and what he can improve on going into the pros.
Film Review with Isaiah Coulter
The Houston Texans selected WR Isaiah Coulter, 6'2, 198 from Rhode Island, in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He provides much needed depth for the WR room and the Texans were intrigued by his 4.45 40 yard dash speed. It has been a theme for the offense, get as many burners on the field at the same time and let Deshaun go to work. Coulter is the newest addition to a speedy WR corps that includes Will Fuller (4.32), Brandin Cooks (4.33), Kenny Stills (4.38) and Randall Cobb (4.46). The Texans have formed their own "Legion of Zoom" in the mold of the Kansas City Chiefs and with Deshaun being such an accurate deep ball thrower, the offense looks to be extremely explosive.
I had the amazing opportunity to interview Isaiah Coulter, ask him a couple questions, and break down some of his plays at Rhode Island. He was a super nice dude and provided really insightful answers. The thing that stuck out to me the most was his deep knowledge of the game and his own game too, knowing exactly what he needs to work on to improve. With that said, let's dive into the interview.
TT: "For those that don't know much about you, tell me about your game. What will you bring to the Texans and what player are you most excited to play with?"
IC: "Yeah so I'm just a smooth route runner man. I think I can run all types of routes, whether I'm on the outside or inside. I'm someone who can really go up and get the ball too. I'm a hands catcher, I don't like to body catch, I want to go out and extend for it. I'm really just someone who is looking to help in any way, as a receiver or on special teams too. I'll really just do whatever the team asks of me. I'm excited to get to work with all the guys in the WR room for sure. And then yeah man Deshaun, he's a star, it's going to be really fun linking up with him."
TT: "How was the draft process for you? Who in the Texans organization did you talk to and did you get a sense that they would possibly draft you?"
IC: "The draft process was real smooth man, it went well, the combine and everything. I talked to John Perry, the WR coach and he asked me about my game and he got to know me real well. So I got a good feeling from him, we clicked well, I kind of had a good connection created."
TT: "BOB has mentioned that due to COVID19 forcing rookie minicamp to be cancelled, it's going to be a veterans year. As a rookie, what can you do to stand out and make a name for yourself?"
IC: "I just got to come in and put my head down and get to work. Just really dive into the playbook and learn everything about it and master it. Just working hard and showing everything that I can bring to the team. And then also just being in good shape because you never know when you're going to be needed. So just always being ready."
TT: "The world has never seen something as drastic as COVID19. How has that changed your life, specifically with workout out, getting ready for the draft and getting ready for the Texans upcoming season?
IC: "It's been pretty crazy I mean everything closing down, gyms closing down, we were never thinking of gyms closing down. So that makes things a little harder but still putting in the work and staying in shape and being ready. It's crazy though man, it’s crazy.
TT: "NFL offseason programs are starting around the league, and I know the veterans have done meetings, but have the rookies been involved in anything yet? Also, BOB's offense has had a reputation to be a bit more complicated than most. Have they even sent you the playbook yet?"
IC: "No, we haven't met yet, I think we're meeting next week starting on Monday. I haven't seen it yet but it'll definitely be a transition just going from college to the pros, there's a big difference there obviously. But once I get it I'm gonna dive into it and really learn everything I can."
TT: "No player is perfect, whether you're a rookie or a veteran, so what are you focusing on working on and want to improve heading into the season?
IC: "Working on my body and getting stronger man, just getting stronger so I can get guy's hands off of me so I can be more physical. Just staying in shape too because you got to be ready for everything. Just working man to really be ready for however they want to use me. Whether that's outside, inside or I'll do anything on special teams too. So really my body is the main focus and then like working on my routes too."
TT: "A big part of what you can bring to the Texans is your speed and ability to win downfield. Take me through this play and what's going through your mind."
IC: "So in man coverage, I take a speed release inside and once I'm past him I try and settle at the bottom of the numbers to give my QB a good window to throw it. I got the CB behind me but the Safety is coming over and so I got to give my QB a window for that. And so I'm able to track it and bring it in real nice, and they can't stop me from scoring."
TT: "Yeah so my favorite part of this play is your release. I think you do a great job of winning at the line of scrimmage. You take a hard step outside then explode inside, taking that speed release like you said. From there, you're just faster than the CB and create easy separation. "
TT: "So I think this play shows a good combination of all your valuable traits. Speed, length, catch radius and body control. What do you see here?"
IC: "So the CB is in man and I notice he opens up his hips a bit early and so I know I have to win vertical and I'm just going man. I go down the sideline and there's not a lot of space but the QB gives me a good ball and I go up and extend to grab for it. Then just to have the body control and ability to get my feet in bounds and secure the catch."
TT: "Yeah you said it pretty perfectly. I think the ability to win on the sideline with little space like this is going to be extremely valuable for the offense. Deshaun is great at throwing back shoulder fades and with your body control and catch radius, it's going to be a great connection."
TT: "Alright, so this play really shows how you can be a weapon with the ball in your hands. I have a strong idea of how this play was designed but I want to hear your explanation first. What's going on here?"
IC: "Yeah so they're in man coverage across the board and I'm the checkdown option here on 3rd and 19. So my WRs clear out and run deep and I'm open underneath. I get the ball, I beat my man and there's a ton of open space. So I'm running and I see his (#17) back is turned so I cut it left a bit. And the CB comes back in the play and he just had a good angle on it so he was able to make the stop."
TT: "Perfect man, yeah I was going to ask about the design of this but you confirmed my thoughts. I saw man coverage too and that the three top WRs are all running deep routes. So with the DBs having their heads turned, you have all this space to work with and just got to make one guy miss. Which you are able to do with your speed and elusiveness. This is huge man, because we need a YAC threat like this, getting extra yards is definitely a way for you to make a huge impact."
TT: "This play here is really great and it adds to the YAC I was just talking about. Take me through it."
IC: "Yeah so I motion down, then with orbit motion so I go around the backfield and the idea of this is to get me to the edge and in space and have our blockers get out and make some blocks. I ended up getting only like 6 yards but its positive yards and then the safety that comes down from the box he takes a good angle to stop me."
TT: "Yeah man, like you said, you may not get a ton of yards but its a positive gain. It really just shows all the ways you can be used in the offense and really take advantage of your speed. Love it."
TT: "This is one of my favorite plays of yours and I think it's something that's going to translate really well to the NFL. Take it away!"
IC: "So the CB has a huge cushion on me and I knew that the entire game he was shading the inside and so when I'm running the skinny post here, I'm not going to be able to cross his face. So I cut it off and hold it outside and upfield. So then I'm with the CB here and I notice that he's not looking at the ball, he's got his head turned looking at me. So when he does this he can't really make a play. So I do a subtle little push off, it's not even really a push off tho it's just football man. I do it so subtle that they can't even call pass interference on it. Then I got that extra space and bring it down"
TT: "Yeah man there was a lot to unpack from this play. Like you said he has a huge cushion on you, and I think it's important to note that, even with how fast you are, there's some CBs in some situations where you just aren't able to burn them deep you know. But you have other skills that help you win, even if you're not wide open. So like you said that subtle push off, they aren't going to call that in the league because you didn't fully extend with your arm. It's really a veteran's move right there. And you can see the CB complaining to the ref, he wants a flag but he aint getting one.
IC: "Yeah man, haha! He was calling for one but that's just football man, no interference."
TT: "Alright so next play, and this is really just a beautiful route here man. Just beautiful, take me through the play and how you ran the route."
IC: "Yeah so the CB is in off and I'm running sort of a sluggo (slant and go) and I take those three steps inside, selling the slant and I look back at the QB, which really sells it, and then I'm off and the CB can't recover. I just get vertical and the QB gives me a great throw and I'm able to bring it down."
TT: "Great yeah I think like you said, you really sold the slant route more than most college WRs do. I see guys they'll take one step in and maybe a quick head fake but you really go all the way and take three steps and look back for a couple seconds. And since the CB is so far off, he really has to respect the slant route there, because if he doesn't come down quick enough, you can take that for six. And then I also love at the catch point, the CB kind of recovers back into the play but you make a nice contested catch.
IC: "Yeah so I noticed that the CB has his head turned so he can't do much to really stop me. So I'm able to secure the ball there."
TT: "Yeah exactly! So you've mentioned a couple times now that when the CB has his head turned, you know you've kind of got an advantage. Take me through your thoughts there when you see the CB has his head turned. Are you thinking like, I can just go up and grab it?"
IC: "Yeah when I see it, I know they can't challenge me, they can only play the width of their hands. So I just know I can go up and get it and they can't really challenge me."
TT: "That's awesome man. Alright, next play, I think this is the biggest thing that will lead to you being productive and getting snaps at the next level. The ability to beat press coverage at the next level. Take me through how you win here."
IC: "Yeah so 4th and 2 here and in press, I'm running a slant so I want to go inside. So once the CB get's his hips turned I know I got him beat. He punches me and I just swipe down on his arm and am able to open up to the QB easy and look at all that space. You know, I open up a clear window for the throw and then I bring it down and just keep running."
TT: "Yeah man it's all the work you do at the line of scrimmage that really pays off and makes it an easy catch for you. Like you said you want to win inside, so you do a great job of selling the outside fake first, with that hard step outside. Winning these slants on crucial downs, that was DeAndre Hopkins' specialty man, if you can do this, gonna be hard to keep you off the field.
IC: "I appreciate that, thank you man."
TT: "Yeah of course. So quick question for you. I don't have access to all of your tape, so I could only see a couple games. Did you get to see a lot of press coverage in college? From what I saw it was a little press but mostly off coverage."
IC: "Yeah I saw a lot of press in college, I lined up outside mostly and saw a lot, so it's great to have that experience in me and I'll be ready for it."
TT: "That's great man, yeah I think it'll be a huge help going into the NFL with that experience. Alright, so we've looked at a lot of your strengths, and no player is perfect, so just to give some constructive criticism, I think the major thing you can work on is your routes. And I love your releases and the work you do at the line of scrimmage, what I think you can work on is your stems at the top of the route. Just getting low and exploding out of your cuts to create more separation. What are your thoughts on that?"
IC: "Yeah I need to get better with my stems and my breaks. And I do it, but I just got to get more consistent with it. Like it's one of those things that it's in your head but sometimes you just forget about it for a play, but you know you gotta do it. So it's just becoming more consistent with it and really working on those stems."
TT: "Yeah man exactly, consistency is the thing, because I'll see a couple plays where you do it really well, and then a couple plays where you don't do it as well. But the great thing is you know it's something you need to work on, and it's not like it's a hard fix.
TT: "Alright, so this play here is a good example of what I was talking about. I think you do a solid job when you're cutting inside, of sitting down in the chair and dropping your weight. He's holding your shoulder pad it looks like, and is able to slow you down though. Take me through your thoughts."
IC: "Yeah here I take it outside on the release and then at the stem he's holding onto my shoulder pad like you said he does a good speed turn to kind of get in my way and so I'm not able to fully make the break. So he does a pretty good job here but what I should of done is, you see how I'm pressing him vertical, I should have taken it a couple more steps downfield to really sell that, then he would bite harder and then I make the cut inside and it would've been easier for me
TT: "Yeah that's a great point. Unfortunately I don't know the situation of the play here, the scoreboard doesn't want to tell us the down and distance. Do you happen to remember what the situation was, where was the 1st down marker?"
IC: "Yeah I believe it was third and long and I saw that they were bringing pressure, I saw the edge creeping and the safety coming down so I knew I kind of had to cut it short because they were bringing more, so I knew the QB wouldn't have the time."
TT: "Alright next play here is one where I think you could've done a better job to get low and explode out of your cut. You kind of take multiple steps on the curl instead of stopping on a dime and turning more suddenly. But maybe it's how you guys are taught to run it. So walk me through the route here."
IC: "Yeah so I'm running a post-curl and we run it where at the stem we like to come back to the ball a couple yards. And so my problem here was that I looked back at the ball too early. I even could've taken my release inside later too, I released inside too early. But the main thing is I looked back too early and so that told the CB that I was gonna break you know. So If I look back later it'll help to create more space."
TT: "Last play here man, and it really shows what we've been talking about. This is such a beautiful route here, it's just a great example of you getting low, sitting in the chair and exploding out of your break. You're not the white arrow here, you're at the top of the screen, and just look at all the space you create when you do this! Take it away."
IC: "Yeah so I stutter this at the top and then cut inside really selling the slant and then I just quickly stop and turn around and explode and create a ton of space and Im open man but the QB I guess he decides to throw it a different way. You know he's gotta read it and I guess he read differently. Because Im not the #1 option here, so he's got to read 1-2 and he just didn't throw it to me. But yeah, I'm pretty open."
TT: "Yeah you're wide open dude, that's an easy six, just walk it in. But, I get what you mean, gotta go through the progressions."
IC: "And I been working on this all week too man, we knew that they pressed in the red zone and so I was setting up that slant and knew that if I sold it well enough the CB would have to try and jump and then that's when I got him. Was pretty open on it."
The Texans have surrounded Deshaun Watson with plenty of weapons and a talented, young offensive line. The potential of the offense is sky high. With these new additions, I would love to see us move to a vertical deep passing scheme, to truly take advantage of the speed at WR. We are extremely deep at the position and have the ability to go five wide, spread out the defense and let Deshaun find the open man. While our WRs have plenty of speed, people also underestimate how good of route runners they are too. Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller are very good at creating separation and they can teach the young guys like Isaiah Coulter more of the nuances of the game and help him with his stems. I'm extremely excited to watch the growth of Coulter and how he becomes integrated into the new look Texans offense.