Whew, football. I needed that.
The Texans kicked off the 2011 preseason with a 20-16 win over the Jets. I guess it’s good to get in the winning habit, yes? Rex Ryan certainly thought so, as you can tell by how he waited until he knew he was on camera, and then slammed his headset into the ground in anger. Oh, Rex. It never gets old. Except that it’s beyond old. Anyway, let’s get into it:
Pressure on the quarterback. The Texans were all around the quarterback all night long, like I’ve never seen them before. Granted, a lot of that was against Greg “I aspire to be Rusty Smith” McElroy, but seeing the front seven embrace and execute Wade’s system to the point they were able to did wonders for my soul. The Texans had seven sacks. Seven. The Texans. Sacks. Seven. The Houston Texans had seven sacks. I don’t care if they were lining up against a team of blind children. SEVEN sacks? I know it’s preseason, but that is a number to be happy about.
Rookies J.J. Watt & Brooks Reed. Watt backed up all the praise he garnered from his training camp performance. He was incredibly aggressive and relentless. In fact, he was a bit TOO aggressive at times. Overpursuit is an issue, but as coachable as Watt is said to be, I wouldn’t expect it to be a problem for long. Reed was also physical, aggressive, and relentless for every snap he was in the game. I don’t believe he had any sacks, but he was constantly getting good pressure, and he had a batted ball. Really excited about what these two guys can do, and I hope the WAY they play is the spark of a change to more high-effort, relentless aggression by the defense as a whole.
Another rookie shout to Bryan Braman. Braman also brought a lot of pressure, had two sacks, and at least one blown sack (I think actually two). (So you’re telling me that the Texans could have had NINE SACKS in this game?
Chris Ogbonnaya. Let’s not get crazy here. Ogbonnaya had a lot of easy looks that were more about play-calling and poor choices by Jet defenders – but I give him all credit for taking advantage of every opportunity given to him. He had over 100 combined yards, and I love the way he gets upfield, runs decisively, and protects the ball when in traffic. Still, let’s see him do it with some consistency in the preseason. He’ll likely have many more opportunities, as I don’t anticipate Arian Foster coming back anytime soon.
Earl Mitchell>Shaun Cody. But you already knew that. Shaun Cody looks like he always does. Overmatched, and mediocre at best. Earl showed some flashes out there. If the starting NT on September 11 is based on the man who plays the best in preseason, and no other factor – then I’ll be SHOCKED if the starter is Cody over Mitchell. He wasn’t superb, and he probably won’t be – but I can’t imagine that he won’t be getting it done at a higher clip than Cody by time the season rolls around.
Kareem Jackson. Still not seeing anything that tells me he will be even at the bottom end of mediocre. Also – why does this guy get the same reps as a guy like DeMeco Ryans? Play the guy. See if he can get better – and please do it now when it doesn’t count. No more learning on the job in the regular season for this guy, please.
The Offense. Wow, did they ever struggle. Matt Schaub looked rusty, which I suppose is to be expected. Plus, let’s not forget that they were in fact playing the Jets… but again, not at all concerned.
Mario’s first turn at OLB. No reason to overreact. Mario is going to struggle early on – I’m just hoping that he gets it down early in the season. Mario looked out of sorts and out of his element, which he was. But with Mario, there have been many games where he looked like he might be a non-factor early on, then out of nowhere he shows up and makes an impact. He only played a quarter, if that.
The Return Game. My. God. It. Was. Garbage. I thought Steve Slaton was injured? I hope tonight’s abhorrent return game is a product of the shortened offseason, and not a sign of things to come. I’ll leave it at that.
Matt Leinart. I just wasn’t impressed. Kubiak called a VERY safe game for Leinart. That said, as with Ogbonnaya – I can’t fault Leinart for doing what was asked of him. He repeatedly dumped the ball off (by design), and of course he had all the bootlegs working for him. When Leinart actually had to go through his progressions he looked like the same Matt Leinart. A good QB needs to be a good decision-maker. I still don’t see it out of Leinart. Sure, he’s better than Dan Orlovsky, but so what? I challenge you to go down the list of number two QBs in the NFL and find a few that AREN’T better than Dan-O.
Lots of good. Lots of bad. But the team looks like they are at least on their way to understanding the new defensive scheme. I’ll take those seven sacks, even against McElroy. They’re going to have to get MUCH better to get anywhere close to those numbers in the regular season, but this can definitely be seen as actual defensive progress. Coach’em up, Wade.