There’s a lot to like from the Texans preseason game 2
This may be just a scrimmage game but I saw a lot of positives in the Texans 16-13 win against the 49ers in NRG Stadium. The defensive front seven is going to be a monster when the regular season rolls around. These guys get after it and will probably be good enough to force teams into airing it out. Offensively, Deshaun Watson looked superb and his receivers made him look even better. Those are two very good reasons to be optimistic as we get closer to Week 1 at New England, but glaring problems also showed up on film. It’s those problems that will make or break the season.
The Texans secondary was awful. A lot of the good things that did happen, like Johnson Bedemosi’s interception; were the result of the front seven getting pressure and forcing the play. If Jimmy Garoppolo had played more there would have been some deep balls for touchdowns. The other big problem for Houston is the running game. They are averaging around 3 yards per carry and no one looked all that good. Lamar Miller only has 8 carries in the two games so that has a lot to do with it, but someone else will need to step up and provide more out of the backfield. Alfred Blue is the favorite so far, but that’s not a comforting thought.
But let’s focus on the better parts of the team that showed up Saturday night. Watson went 5-of-8 for 73 yards and a touchdown in his first and only drive of the game. His passes looked crisp and he was getting it out of his hand fast with plenty of lead for the receivers to get yards after the catch. Bruce Ellington was the beneficiary of three of those passes for 44 yards and a touchdown, most of that yardage coming on one play where he was wide open underneath and ran for 33 yards after the catch.
Most of the receivers on hand for the night were lower depth chart guys like Sammie Coates, Braxton Miller and rookie Vyncint Smith and all looked like they belonged when Deshaun Watson and Brandon Weeden were on the field. And as good as the depth at receiver looked, this is the second week in a row that the tight end appeared to be a serious weapon offensively for the Texans. Ryan Griffin caught two passes for 29 yards on that opening drive and MyCole Pruitt had a 17-yard reception on a later drive. Couple that with the play of Jordan Akins last week and things are looking up for tight ends.
Defensively, I can’t say enough about how fast the front seven played against the 49ers first and second unit. Duke Ejiofor continues to impress, and Dylan Cole had another solid performance as well. Those aren’t even the starters. Zach Cunningham had a great tackle near the line of scrimmage when he shot cleanly through a gap in the traffic for a clean take down. This group dominated at the line of scrimmage much of the first half and that was done without a lot of significant starters beyond one series. This is going to be a run stopping team that’s exciting to watch on Sundays.
It will take the whole team getting better if the Texans want to make it to the playoffs, but there was a lot of solid play on the field that makes that possible. There are still two more games left in the preseason and starters might see more playing time as the regular season inches closer. Rosters are going to start being made based on these first two preseason games and for several players they have made their case. The rest will have just a limited opportunity to secure a spot. It will start next Saturday at the Los Angeles Rams.