Thanks to a multitude of people on Twitter, I was able to watch the Texans vs. Saints game this morning. I set the game to record on NFL Network, but imagine my surprise (and anger) when I got home late last night and had nothing but 3.5 hours of “this game is blacked out in your area” on my screen. Luckily the game replayed late last night so I was able speed through it on the DVR and watch. (By the way, the HD feed for the local ABC broadcast of the game was GARBAGE. Come on, guys. This team is one of the most profitable in sports. If you’re going to force me to watch your broadcast over NFL Network’s, then it might be time to spring for better HD technology. There are colleges who have better broadcast quality. Ridiculous and shameful.)
Obviously, the first team offense was very impressive. Arian Foster makes it look pretty easy, doesn’t he? He seemed to effortlessly glide through defenders on his way to two TDs. Foster’s field vision looked as great as ever, as he was making defenders look silly once he got through the second level.
Ben Tate, wow. He looked decisive, quick, and even had the nifty change-of-hands in the open field. Not bad for a guy who didn’t make it out of the preseason last year, and has barely practiced this year. Tate finished with 95 yards on only nine carries, and throw in a reception for 13 yards.
Of course, the run-blocking was superb, which allowed Foster and Tate to run wild. The Texans had over 200 yards rushing on the night, and at times looked dominant doing it.
Matt Schaub was very sharp, and it was great seeing him hook up with Andre Johnson on a couple of big gains. All that said, the typically blitz-happy New Orleans defense was clearly keeping it simple. It’s quite literally not at all what we are going to get when the two teams meet at the Superdome in Week 3.
The first-team defense was a little shaky at times, but you have to allow for that against a great offense like the Saints, especially considering how green they are in this new 3-4 system. How about the Texans having an offense march down the field on them, but instead of the 2010 “curl into the fetal position and whimper until a TD,” they bust the QB in the mouth and cause a turnover!? THAT was fantastic. Still, the Saints first team moved the ball pretty well, but both teams kept things pretty vanilla.
Mario Williams looked a little bit more comfortable in his OLB position, J.J. Watt continued to impressed, and Brooks Reed was either getting to the QB repeatedly, or getting held on his way to the QB. Obviously it’s way too early to judge, but if Mario struggles at OLB to start, it’s going to be tough to keep Brooks Reed off the field.
Overall the defense once again got good pressure on the QB and now has 11 sacks in two games… but it’s not so much about the sacks. The pressure is actually somewhat consistent, and if that carries over into the regular season – we could be in for some fun this year. The Texans also did a great job of blowing up screens on Saturday night, something that they have repeatedly been destroyed by in recent years.
Offensive Player(s) of the Game: The offensive line. I could give it to Tate or Foster, or even Matt Schaub – but the offensive line got that running game going, and sustained it through most of the game.
Defensive Player of the Game: I’ll go with the obvious answer, Brooks Reed and his two sacks, plus two forced fumbles. He gets off the snap FAST, and was a nightmare for all who were charged with defending him. Very excited to see what he can do, and I’d also be curious to see how he would do against first-team offenses. I’m loving the relentless aggression he and J.J. Watt bring to this defense.
I’ll leave it at that for now, as I’m headed out on the road (again) for work. Hoping to have a couple of entries for you this week, as we draw closer to the season.