"Will fans ever love me? Please? I had a 103 QB Rating!"
Before I get into the updated position battle standings, I wanted to give my thoughts on the game.
First of all, I didn't enjoy ABC-13's coverage of the game. You can go back through the live threads to find a bunch of us having our good share of fun with the network, but I have to point one thing out again. Did ABC seriously ask about the Texans switching to a 3-4? During a game? With no provocation at all? Thankfully, the Texans get nationwide CBS coverage next week in their first 2010 game at Reliant Stadium.
Second of all, if you're going to drop an egg, then doing so in a pre-season game isn't bad. Another good performance may have gotten the guys lazy these next few weeks. However, now they see how far they have to go to get to an elite level. Kubiak now has a reason to crack the whip when these guys come back to Houston with something to prove against a rival team that has struggled this pre-season.
The negatives? Bad tackling, overpursuit, a muffed punt, a stupid fumble, and Kubiak keeping Andre and Schaub out there too long. Sure, the rest of the starters could use more time given how unimpressive they were, but you have to protect the goods. The problems can all be fixed. No need to worry. The team has something to work on. They'll hear the negative chatter and it should fuel them. Plus, pre-season record doesn't count.
The positives? Kareem Jackson (a/k/a the Kareemsicle) looked very smooth and comfortable out there, Arian Foster scored a red zone rushing touchdown, Schaub was accurate, both QBs put up a QB rating over 103, the reserve TEs showed nice depth with a combined 7 catches for 91 yards and 1 TD (could've been 2 if there had not been a penalty on Garrett Graham), Neil Rackers was awesome, Troy Nolan got a sack on a safety blitz, and the starters got out of there healthy.
There, you're on a slightly happy note. Now hit the jump for the roster battles.
Game Performance: Dan-O went 12-19 for 140 and a touchdown. It was a Booty-less Saturday.
Thoughts: Statistically, Dan's performing well against back-ups, but there are still mistakes. He's still holding onto the ball too long, putting the ball in a place where your wide receiver is going to get killed, and playing it too safe with his throws (read: dumps it off too much). He's improved from last season, but I'm still not sold on him.
Current Standings: Dan-O is the back-up with Booty sitting third.
Running Back: Arian Foster versus Steve Slaton versus Chris Henry versus Jeremiah Johnson
Game Performance: Foster had 28 yards on 6 carries, along with 2 receptions for 15 yards, with a TD and fumble. Slaton had 19 yards on 5 carries to go along with a terrible screen pass. Jeremiah had a six-yard catch and one-yard rush.
Thoughts: Kubiak's insistence on playing the starters hurts the back-ups' chances to impress. Well, there's also the fact that the Saints had the ball for 40(!!!!) minutes. Jeremiah getting more playing time than Chris Henry should be telling.
Current Standings: Foster's the #1, Steve's in on 3rd downs, and Jeremiah
Wide Receiver 4 & 5: Andre Davis versus David Anderson versus Dorin Dickerson
Game Performance: Anderson led the team with 3 receptions and 61 yards. Dickerson and Davis did not play.
Thoughts: Anderson played very well last night. He showcased his speed and toughness. Must have been hard for Davis seeing other players step into return roles so easily, but more on that later.
Current Standings: They should update the Mothership's depth chart as DA is clearly the #4, Dickerson is riding his impressive debut last week to the 5th spot, and Davis is on the outside looking in.
Interior Offensive Line: Kasey Studdard versus Mike Brisiel versus Wade Smith
Game Performance: Studdard was his usual self, Smith was less than impressive, and Brisiel was actually quite solid.
Thoughts: Both Smith and Studdard got pushed around on Saturday while Brisiel performed well, mostly at center. Kubiak wanted to settle on a starting line-up by now, so....
Current Standings: The line should go Brown - Brisiel - Myers - Caldwell - Winston. Why Brisiel? Well, the others haven't blown me away. Brisiel has performed fairly well, but really he's won by default. I'm sure if BRB could reach him for comment that it'd sound something like this: "Default? Woo hoo! Default: the two sweetest words in the English language... de fault, de fault, de fault."
Strong-Side Linebacker: Danny Clark versus Xavier Adibi versus Darryl Sharpton at Weak-Side, which forces Zac Diles to strong-side
Game Performance: Adibi is nursing a groin injury, Clark had an interception but left with a strained knee, and Sharpton had one tackle.
Thoughts: There's really not much to say, eh? The defense as a whole sort of vanished. Just a disappointing performance.
Current Standings: By default, Sharpton may be the starting WLB and Diles, who has played very well in the pre-season, could be in Cushing's spot.
Cornerback: Brice McCain versus Antwaun Molden versus Sherrick McManis versus Jacques Reeves versus Mark Parson versus Fred Bennett
Game Performance: McCain had an assist, Molden did not play, McManis had a tackle, Reeves had an assist, and Parson and Bennett rarely saw the field.
Thoughts: The Saints only threw for 211 yards, but 182 of that was to third-string Chase Daniel abusing the Cover-2 zone. I can't really fault the corners as much as I do the safeties.
Current Standings: McCain's leading in the battle for the #3 spot, Molden suffered a setback but should go against Dallas, McManis has been better than I thought and is my pick for the Quarter, while Reeves, Parson, and Bennett are up for the potential 6th CB spot. My pick? Parson. Young, hungry for a chance, and cheaper than the other two.
Kickoff Returner: Trindon Holliday versus Steve Slaton versus Sherrick McManis versus Jeremiah Johnson
Game Performance: Holliday - 28 yard return and one bobbled catch that led to a kneel down, Slaton - 2 returns for 88 yards including a 63 yarder, McMannis - 26 yard return, Johnson - 55 yard return.
Thoughts: Thumb injury or not, Holliday showed a flash and then struggled to field a punt and kick before being benched. He's been disappointing and the excitement he generated is gone. Heck, people wanted the team to leave him in Louisiana. Slaton and Johnson looked great running in space - SHOCK!
Current Standings: Holliday gets one last chance to avoid the practice squad against Dallas should he be healthy enough to play. Otherwise, Slaton and Johnson will be returning kicks.
Punt Returner: Trindon Holliday versus Jacoby Jones
Game Performance: Both men stood out there, but there were only two returns by Holliday for one yard. Oh, Trindon also muffed a punt, which led to a Saints TD, and was benched.
Thoughts: Well, Holliday has struggled returning punts. This is the second punt he's muffed in a game situation. He went to the bench. That should say it all.
Current Standings: Barring Holliday exploding versus the Cowturds (if he plays), Jacoby may be returning punts again. Get the alcohol ready.
Kicker: Neil Rackers versus Kris Brown
Game Performance: Both kickers went 1-for-1 on field goals and 1-for-1 on extra points. Brown made a 43 yard FG while Rackers nailed his from 52(!) yards. The kickoffs were fine, but suffered from poor tackling coverage.
Thoughts: Well, we know who Spencer Tillman is rooting for, right? Just outright rooting for Kris Brown. I get that it's a home station, but it's a position battle. Don't pick favorites or sway public feeling. That said, the kickers both nailed their kicks. Rackers got to show off his range with the 52-yarder, which happens to be the most impressive kick either man has made this summer.
Current Standings: From what we've read through OTAs and training camp, Rackers has made more FGs than Brown. In game situations, both kickers have made all their FGs, but Rackers made the longer one. 52 yards may be his range limit without wind, but, to me, it gives him the edge. He's not only outperformed Brown, but he's less of a headcase than Brown, or so says history. That said, the coaches will probably take Brown if all things are even because of loyalty, even though none should be shown to the worst NFL kicker in 2009.
There are my thoughts. Sound off in the comments as we try to forget Saturday night's performance and move on to the pre-season home opener against the Southern Oklahoma Cowturds.