TEXANS REPORT

There’s a lot to like from the Texans preseason game 2

The Texans won their second preseason game. Stephen Pinchback/Houstontexans.com

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.

 

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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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