By Brien O’Donal
Much like everyone else in Houston Saturday night, the Texans preseason game in the Mercedes Benz Superdome was probably the last thing on my mind. Playing offense must have been the last thing on the minds of the Texans players. It’s still only the preseason so the 13-0 loss counts just the same as a win, but any time an offense gets blanked by a team that is known for its defensive struggles; there has to be some serious gut checking.
The offense just couldn’t really get anything going. They had 13 first downs in 13 drives and averaged only 3.7 yards per play. That’s just not going to get it done. If the defense can hold the opponent under 2 touchdowns there’s no reason the game should look out of reach. Of course, committing 8 penalties on offense just keeps any momentum from building. It seems every week that facet of the game rears its ugly head. For a team that needs to do everything it can to help the defense, they sure are making too many mental mistakes.
On the flip side, the defense looks to be doing more than its part. We know well that is where the foundation of this team lies, but that was also true in 2016 and only earned them a 9-7 record. Depth is still a concern, which was visible when they held the Saints to 3 points in the first half and then allowed the last 10 to players way down the depth chart. I wouldn’t be concerned though. Sean Peyton is no slouch offensively so I would say it was still a solid effort to keep the point total low.
I am firm in my belief that this team needs to win games by running the ball and controlling the clock. Right from the outset, the offensive line looked like a bunch of bull fighters just waiving their quarry into the backfield. 57 total rushing yards just won’t get the job done and if the offensive line is going to play paddy-cake there is no reason for the opposing defense to fall back on their heels. There is still time but after two promising preseason games, this third one was a big turd.
Thursday’s game against the Cowboys should provide a good opportunity to get back to running the ball and showing some improvement as they head into the regular season. Dallas has a defense that can provide some stiff walls against the running game. It will be up to Houston’s coaches and players to come out ready to take what they want from the Cowboys.
Against the Saints, the running game wasn’t working but the passing game shut down as well. They totaled only 189 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per pass play. When a mid level defense can stymie your offense like that there’s not much chance to win. Going into Thursday’s game, there should be a concerted effort to make better pre-snap reads and be ready to get the ball further down field.
Once again, Tom Savage looked to be just slightly better than Deshaun Watson. He may be the future, but there should be no rush to make that future the present. The Texans defense will have to have a steady hand to push the ball forward and Watson’s fundamentals are not quite ready. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got his number called some time this season, but I think Savage has proven enough to be the week 1 guy.
The countdown to the regular season is on. There is one game left in the preseason and just one simple cut to the final 53 man roster. With the lack of depth on this team it should be pretty difficult to determine which players to keep and which to let go. If those on the bubble really want to make the roster they better show up against the Cowboys Thursday.
It is unknown at this point whether the game will be played in Houston or Dallas because of the weather. Keep an eye out for announcements regarding that if you already have tickets. Be safe with any choice you make about attending the game.