After not allowing a team to score more than 20 during the first 2 games of the preseason the Houston Texans had their job cut out for them this past week against the New Orleans Saints. In what was basically the last preseason action for many of the starters the Texans were beat 27-34 on Saturday night. In the first half of action, when the starting units were on the field minus a few pieces on each side each team scored 24 points in the normal shoot out fashion between the two teams. Now that I’ve burst the bubbles of Texans fans that didn’t watch the game or haven’t heard the outcome quite yet let’s get into this weeks wrap up.
After 2 pretty dominant performances by the Texans against the Panthers and 49ers, the Texans actually looked a bit vulnerable against Brees and the Saints after a couple possessions. Given the Texans did jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after a TD drive led by Matt Schaub and finished on a 1 yard run by Ben Tate. After a fumble recovery by Glover Quinn Schaub led them back down again and finished the drive with a TD pass to rookie WR Keshawn Martin. After that the wheels sort of fell off for the offense for a bit. With costly fumbles by Keshawn Martin and new kick return man Trindon Holliday. After fumbling on a return Holliday redeemed himslef with a 63 yard return to get his team set up for the last scoring drive the starters would have. Finishing that TD drive was RB Arian Foster with his 6 yard run. Foster finished the game with 8 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Even with the loss on the board the Texans offense learned a lot from this game. Schaub was on fire in the first half, the best I’ve seen him look in a really long time. Every throw he had was sharp and precise. During the first drive of the game he connected with 6 different targets moving the ball around where he could. He played all of the first half and only had 3 incomplete passes going 15-18 for 194 yards and a TD. After that performance his preseason totals are 29-38 for 374 yards 2 TD’s 1 INT and a QB Rating of 113.3. Not bad for a guy coming off a foot injury that sidelined him from almost the midpoint of last year until camp started this year. He stood tall in the pocket, and never seemed scared contact from the pass rushers closing in on him. Like many other Texans fans I’m looking for him to have a big year. Though making the playoffs and taking Baltimore to the limit was fun we all realize it was our 3rd string QB and with Schaub that game could have been won.
Team captain and leader Andre Johnson was active for the 2nd straight week against the Saints. He had 2 catches for 30 yards after a 49 yards performance against the 49ers. Johnson, like Schaub looks healthy and ready to go this year. He also missed a chunk of the regular season last year during the teams drive to the playoffs and though he was there during the playoffs I think Johnson has something to prove to the league. With the emergence of Calvin Johnson and others like Victor Cruz a lot of people are sleeping on the Texans WR. After just watching him attack the ball the way he has the last 2 games I’d say he’s 100% now. If Johnson can stay healthy all season I believe he’s elite talent. Only him and Jerry Rice have led the league in receiving yards in consecutive years. It’s hard to do with the way coverages are drawn up now a days, but if healthy Johnson will show us why he earned the nickname “The Natural.”
The defense gave up a preseason high 412 and a couple stoppable big plays in this game, and yes if this were the regular season there might be reason to panic. But with the starters only playing the first half they didn’t do too bad considering 7 points of the 24 put on them was off a fumble recovery from Holliday’s mistake. So 17 points against Drew Brees and the Saints with a turnover in a half is actually pretty decent and in most cases should keep you in the game against them. Though they didn’t record any sacks on Brees during the half they were definitely getting after him. Which is also a good sign because as a whole the Saints are probably the best pass protecting team in football so if you’re able to get to Brees at all then your doing your job. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips had this to say about the defenses ran during the preseason “we play vanilla defenses in the preseason… We have some things ready for the (regular) season.”