11 observations from Houston Texans 24-20 win over Rams

The Texans are 2-0 in the preseason. Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans win again late in their second preseason game. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Derek Stingley made his preseason debut. There wasn’t much action in Stingley’s way, but he got beat early. The Rams would rechallenge him only for Stingley to make the correct read and showcase some of the closing speed he has shown off in practice.

2. It is ok to make a mistake if you are Derek Stingley. The nature of the cornerback spot requires the ability to bounce back. Stingley, he can’t make the same mistake very many times. He’s shown the ability to learn from the mistakes in practice and now in a small way in this game.

3. Davis Mills and the almost-first-team offense stunk. I don’t believe this unit scores a touchdown if there wasn’t a personal foul penalty that gifted them some yards.

4. Davis Mills took a totally unacceptable sack for him and this team. Mills saw a wide-open Chris Moore and ignored him to try to make a bigger play. Mills was caught from behind and sacked. Moore easily has a few yards and maybe more. It is first down, in the first quarter. Take the easy play and keep moving. This offense, and team, aren’t built well enough to pass up on easy yards.

5. Max Scharping didn’t play well. The left guard for this game let a Rams defender work him and blow past him to sack Mills and force a fumble. Later, Scharping got pushed around again. The goodwill he built in camp is gone for me.

6. Kenyon Green needs to get back in a hurry. And when Green is back, he needs to be good. Max Scharping nor Justin McCray are suitable full-time left guards for the Texans.

7. Nico Collins caught what I thought was a bad ball from Davis Mills for a touchdown. The involvement of Collins mirrored what usually is the Brandin Cooks role. It will be interesting to see how the team uses Collins when Cooks is playing.

8. Jonathan Greenard might be a menace for this defense. There were spin moves, bull rushes, physical plays, and just general ass-kicking from the defensive end. I am much more excited for his season than I was before this game.

9. Kurt Hinish and Thomas Booker should make this team over Ross Blacklock. Blacklock is inconsistent and hasn’t showcased what Hinish or Booker has in these preseason games. With Roy Lopez and Maliek Collins as the starters at defensive tackle, Hinish and Booker can hold down the backup spots. Again, I don’t believe Hinish would make it to the practice squad if cut.

10. There were a few blitzes that led to sacks. Lovie Smith didn’t blitz much last year, it will be interesting to see if with a deeper and more talented set of defenders he will employ a few more blitzes.

11. The preseason games conclude Thursday with the 49ers in Houston. Lovie Smith has hinted this will be the most starter-heavy game. Hopefully, it includes more than 15 plays of Derek Stingley and a lot more offense from the likely first team of the Texans.

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Nick Caserio's history of drafting injury prone players has become a problem. Composite Getty Image.

Nick Caserio was hired to serve as the general manager (GM) of the Texans on January 7, 2021. Some saw it as another nod to the organization's obsession with the Patriots. Others saw it as the team finally getting their guy after pursuing him previously. They were even hit with a tampering charge while trying to talk to him about the job. Since he's been on the job, there have been highs and lows.

Recently, the news about Kenyon Green and Derek Stingley Jr put a stain on his tenure. Green was placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR) and Stingley Jr is expected to be placed on IR, likely missing six to eight weeks, per Aaron Wilson. Both guys were Caserio's 2022 first rounders. Both guys are starting to look like busts and have fans a little more than just upset.

Green's case was curious because he was said to have needed surgery before he tore his labrum during the Saints preseason game. He had knee surgery this past offseason. There were knee injury concerns when he was coming out of A&M. Adding to his injuries, Green has played poorly. To make matters worse, the Chargers drafted fellow guard Zion Johnson two picks later. Johnson played all 17 games last season as a rookie at right guard and has moved to left guard this season. The pick used to draft Green was part of a trade back with the Eagles. They used the 13th overall pick to take Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis, a guy at a position this team could desperately use.

Stingley Jr was a highly touted recruit coming into LSU as a freshman. He played as well as any corner in the country that year. Oh, and they won a national title with arguably one of the best teams in college football history. His net two years in Baton Rouge were marred with injuries. Some believed his junior year was more him holding back to stay healthy for the draft. It worked because he was taken third overall, one spot ahead of Sauce Gardner. Gardner went on to be an All Pro as a rookie. While he's surrounded by more talent on the Jets' defense, people will forever link them because Stingley Jr hasn't lived up to expectations. He missed six games last season and is set to miss at least that many this season. When he has played, he's looked okay. “Okay” isn't what you want from a guy drafted third overall ahead of the other guy who was widely considered better than him.

For the 2021 draft, Caserio was handcuffed. He had no first or second rounders, and made a few trades that lessened his draft pool from eight to five picks. Of the five guys drafted that year, only Nico Collins seems to be a player. The 2022 draft was more productive. Although Green and Stingley Jr were the headliners and haven't played up to the hype, the others are carrying the load. Jalen Pitre and Dameon PIerce alone make that draft class dope. This past draft was seen as the one to save the franchise so to speak. Getting C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr got the team a franchise quarterback and edge rusher with picks two and three overall. The price paid to move back up to three was hefty and puts more scrutiny on Anderson Jr. They appear, so far, to have also found a couple other nice players. Tank Dell being the hidden gem of this class.

While people can't, and shouldn't, base Caserio's performance strictly off of the guys he's drafted, one must call it into question. The '21 draft was a wash. The '22 draft looks suspect, but has some redeeming qualities. The '23 draft will most likely be his saving grace. But should it? Former Texans GM Rick Smith nailed almost every first rounder he drafted. Even he was almost run out of town because folks didn't like what he did. Why should Caserio be any different? So what if he cleaned up the mess by the previous regime! That's what he was hired to do!

“Keep that same energy!” That phrase is used when people try to hold others to different standards. Where's that energy everyone had for Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Rick Smith, Gary Kubiak, David Culley, and Lovie Smith? When others weren't performing well, their heads were called for. I see some people holding Caserio accountable. For the most part, it appears as if he's getting a bit of a pass. I'll be interested to see if this continues should the team has another subpar season. If that pick they traded to the Cardinals is another top 10 pick and the Browns pick the Texans own isn't...if Green can't come back and/or Stingley Jr doesn't show any signs of being a lockdown corner...then what? Let's hope none of this comes to fruition. If it does, we'll have to revisit this conversation.

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