I think they did. That said, it sure was fun to see the Texans beat the Cowboys up and down the field on Saturday night. Preseason or not, that’s a good feeling. Especially after the drubbing they took in New Orleans.
That said, I have some problems with what I saw on Saturday. Now, I’m already kind of seen as a cynical “over-worrier” when it comes to the Texans, but please hear me out.
After watching the game a second time, something that was crystal clear to me the FIRST time was only reinforced. The Texans did nearly EVERYTHING they could to win this game. They treated it (as they often do) as the preseason Super Bowl. The Cowboys? They were exactly who the Texans were in New Orleans. They had been away from home for a while (much longer than the Texans were), they had no desire to win the game, and it showed.
While in a perfect world, people could stand up, redfaced, and scream “I MAKE 20,000 A YEAR AND YOU MAKE TEN MILLION AND YOU NEED TO GIVE MAXIMUM EFFORT ALL THE TIME RAAWWRR!!!” — That’s not the world we live in. It’s preseason. Teams don’t care. For teams like the Cowboys and Colts, who have both looked pretty awful at times – that’s fine. They’re proven winners, and playoff teams. For the Texans? You better show me something.
So, they did. They came out on fire, especially defensively. But my thoughts on this game can be boiled down thusly: The Texans showed WAY too much, and wanted this meaningless game WAY more than the Cowboys.
Why the Texans did this, I have no idea. I can only assume they felt pressure to have a good showing in front of their angry fans after the New Orleans debacle. What’s the best way to ensure a dominant performance? Open up the playbook on both sides of the ball, and get after them. And they did.
The Texans were blitzing, stunting, and using defensive looks that the Dallas offense will be much more ready to handle when they return to Houston in week three. By then, they will have gameplanned for the Texans, and their beat up offensive line will be in better shape. Anyone who follows the Texans closely and pays attention to their defensive scheming was I’m sure in a near state of shock when Frank Bush dialed up a corner blitz with Glover Quin on the first series. There’s not a whole lot of tape on that sort of thing out there with the Texans, and of course – it worked beautifully. This time.
On offense, the Texans will beat you no matter how much tape the other side has, mainly because, well, they simply have a great offense. But there was one play in particular that I’m VERY upset they yanked out in the preseason. The 24-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub to Jacoby Jones was a thing of beauty. I’ve never seen a team bite on the play-fake as hard as the Cowboys bit. It was beautifully sold, perfectly executed, and SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN RUN IN THE PRESEASON!!!!!
Obviously, an enormous part of the Texans offense is based on misdirection and play action. But the route that Jacoby ran on the bootleg – where he went ACROSS the field after faking a typical bootleg route – that was something new and exciting, and any defensive coordinator worth TEN CENTS in the NFL is not going to fall for that more than once. It sure was a pretty play, though.
Even as cynical as I am, I have no wet blanket for what the running game did on Saturday night. They didn’t do anything fancy in that respect. They Cowboys knew it was coming, and they couldn’t do anything to stop it. Arian Foster is looking fantastic. I’ve been fine with him as the starter since Gary Kubiak started preparing us for it way back when – my ONLY concern with Foster is that he had injury issues at Tennessee. He only started two games last year, and we just don’t have a large sampling of him yet. Can he hold up to the wear and tear week to week? Man, I sure hope so because after already losing Ben Tate, this team is an injury to Foster away from having one of, if not the WORST running back situation in the NFL.
Jeremiah Johnson looked great, but he has issues with blitz pick-up. Steve Slaton still has shown me nothing at all to sway me away from thinking he’s the same guy he was last year. His field vision still looks non-existent, he hesitates, and that’s not even including the fumbling problem – which may have only been a one-time thing against Arizona, we just don’t know. The problem is, the fumbling is only one of many problems he has as a runner now. If he’s still considered the number two running back, it’s only because he’s a better blocker than Johnson – because Johnson certainly looks like a much better runner.
What happened, Steve? Seriously. It’s sad. The guy was unstoppable in 2008.
The Texans also appear to not have fixed their red zone scoring issues. I’ve seen in two separate places now references to how the Texans “would have had one more touchdown in the red zone if not for a holding call.” I don’t see it that way. The hold is what sprung the touchdown. It’s not like it happened away from the play. Chris Myers’ hold is what allowed Foster to score, and yes it was a legit holding call. Now – the pass interference call against Glover Quin – that was a load of horse crap… but I digress.
Look, the Texans looked great on Saturday. Other than their red zone woes, there was a lot to be excited about. I just don’t see the value in breaking open the playbook like that just to appease the fans who want to win yet another preseason Super Bowl championship.
So that’s my harsh, cynical look at what you would think I would look at as a triumphant return to form for the Texans on Saturday. I love that they won big. I love that they dominated – I guess I just am ready to take that step as a fan, where I don’t care about anything that happens in the preseason. I don’t want the players to think it’s a big deal, and I guess I don’t want the fans to think it’s a big deal either.
Maybe I shouldn’t have typed this on a Monday?