Schaub, Foster, Tate, G Jones, Daniels, Graham, Brown, Smith, Myers, Brooks, Newton, A Johnson, Hopkins.
Watt, Mitchell, A Smith (suspended), B Reed, Cushing, Mays, Sharpton, Joseph, Jackson, Manning, E Reed (PUP).
That leaves 50 guys for the game vs. Dallas. 50 guys that are, sorry to say, expendable. Texans have had a remarkable camp as far as injuries. Essentially not a single significant injury suffered in training camp and sitting all these guys is the best way to make sure that continues until the opener. While Arian Foster played zero snaps and J.J. Watt played only 2 snaps this preseason, I am trusting in what has been said about their health and expect both to be ready for the opener.
PODCAST – Texans Saints Postgame Report
Now let’s analyze where the team is with 15 days until they kickoff the season in San Diego. The performance against New Orleans was very similar to the other preseason games. They churned up a ton of yards. They are tops in the NFL in yards (1350), first downs per game (26.7) and time of possession (34:08). They’re 2nd in 3rd down efficiency at 47.4%, but like usual they aren’t putting enough points on the board to truly be happy about where they are.
The starters played the first half and had the ball six times. They scored on four of the six drives, had only 2 punts (one three-and-out) and no turnovers. They had 281 yards of offense. Now you must be wondering exactly how many points did they score and how large was the lead. Try this – they trailed 17-16 at the half.
On the third series, they rolled from their own 15-yard line, to the Saints 22 yard line with no resistance, didn’t even face a third down. But on 1st and ten from the 22, Schaub, facing no pressure, throws a pass behind an open Owen Daniels, that he can’t haul in (actually got crushed as well). Next play, Ben Tate runs left behind rookie David Quessenberry and Pro Bowler Duane Brown. He was trying to follow fullback Greg Jones thru a hole, but Quessenberry and Brown missed their blocks and their defenders crushed Tate for a yard loss. So now after after cruising down the field, they put 2 bad plays together. The real problem is it’s common for them to add a third in succession and those kill drives. That’s exactly what they did.
On 3rd and 11, Schaub drops back with just his offensive line to block. But it’s still 5-on-4 since the Saints only rushed four. Both tackles get pushed into the pocket, Newton loses Cam Jordan and of course Schaub is a sitting duck and he goes down. Bullock converts the 4th and 18 into a 48-yard field goal. That’s three points and a let down.
That’s just one example. Three starters weren’t there versus the Saints that should be there for the opener – G Wade Smith, RB Arian Foster and WR Deandre Hopkins. But I doubt things will be any different. They have to shake some of their inconsistencies and clearly get better on the offensive line. They’ll definitely have one new starter at guard, Brandon Brooks, and they might have another at left guard if Smith is not ready, although he likely will be according to what coach Gary Kubiak Said following the game. Right tackle Derek Newton isn’t a bad player, but he’s going to get beat on a handful of plays every game. Until that ceases, it’s a big problem.
Defensively, this one played out just like it did the last time the Saints and Texans played. The Texans defense got to Brees twice in their first 8 snaps, getting a sack from Jared Crick and a hurry from Willie Jefferson. They didn’t have a sack the rest of the game, and none of the Saints QBs were not under duress at all. Their secondary looked bad. Neither starting QB played well, Johnathan Joseph got undressed by rookie WR Kenny Stills for the 2nd of the 4 Saints TD tosses.
Joe Mays and Shiloh Keo combined to allow a 6 yard pass become a 51-yard touchdown. Mays had good coverage on Pierre Thomas and nearly broke up the pass, but as the ball was hauled in by Thomas, Mays attempted to strip him and didn’t wrap him up. Keo then came in and dropped a double whammy on the field. First he got juked out of his shorts by Thomas then he flailed at Thomas and took out Mays with his whiff attempt at a tackle. (You can watch the play here)
I posted the chart of the elite QBs performances last year against the Texans earlier today, noting the Texans had better change that this year. Well Brees hardly played, but had 1 touchdown and no turnovers. His backups followed with three touchdowns and no turnovers. Just not a good look for the Texans defense.
Bottom line is I feel exactly the same about the Texans as I did when training camp started. They are the third best team in the AFC, behind the Broncos and Patriots, and with a break or two (like catching both Denver and New England at home), they could grab a top two seed for the postseason. Didn’t see anything yet that will change my mind – either from Houston or anyone else in the AFC.
– Wex (@awexler)