When the New Orleans Saints travel to Houston to meet the Houston Texans they will be facing one of the most complete teams in the NFL. The Super Bowl contending Texans will provide challenges in most facets of the game from offense to defense to special teams. Being that it is the third preseason game, the starters will get the majority of the work, and will play at least 2 quarters.
The defense, which continues to be a work in progress, will be challenged from every angle. The Texans’ zone running scheme has made them one of the most potent rushing offenses in the league for the past few years. And despite the absence of Arian Foster, one of the best running backs in the league, Ben Tate will still present a stiff challenge to the Saints’ front seven. In addition, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson headline what can be a very explosive aerial attack. The challenge will be to limit Johnson and get to Schaub. Cameron Jordan will help with that as the coaching staff will be looking for more continued success against one of the better offensive lines in the league. And as far as Johnson goes, this will be the biggest test for the Saints’ revamped secondary this preseason.
Drew Brees and the offense will also have their plate full this week. Wade Phillips’ defense has been one of the best since he has taken over as the Texans’ defensive coordinator. Also, Brees has had his more inefficient games against 3-4 defenses. It will be interesting to see if Brees and the offense have improved in that respect now that he practices against Rob Ryan’s defense every day. Brees isn’t the only one who will be look to step up. The wide receiver battle which has been neck and neck might be decided today as they face Jonathan Joseph and the rest of the secondary. If Nick Toon or Kenny Stills can make some hay against one of the league’s most formidable secondaries, that might be enough to win the job. Finally, it will be curious to see how the tackles hold up against the fierce pass rush. Part of the struggles against 3-4 defenses stems from the inability of the tackles to block quicker, more athletic players the 3-4 routinely presents.
Though it is just the preseason, this match up will be more than just an exhibition. The Saints’ coaching staff will be looking for some continued growth from the defense and other offensive skill positions. And most importantly, they are hoping that everyone gets out of the game injury free.