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Tape Study: Houston Texans @ Arizona Cardinals, Preseason Game 1

Ideally, I'd like to give some manner of a "storyline" or "theme" to these, but given the fact that this is a random preseason game and the rhythm pretty much dictates things being up and down, I'll just jump around all over the place. 

For the most part, I won't put too much stock into a player playing "good" or "well" in the preseason if it doesn't happen against the number ones. If you have an absolutely dominant game, like say, Daryl Washington had for the Cardinals, then I think that is noteworthy. If you have a game like Darryl Sharpton had, that's great and all. An encouraging sign. But I wouldn't get carried away in hyperbole about it. He didn't miss any tackles, but he didn't exactly blow people up at the line of scrimmage or anything.

Finally, as with all these posts. Massive 56K warning is in effect. Buy yourselves some better internet connections, it's 2010.



Offensively, I liked what I saw for the most part. Didn't enjoy the playcalling in the red zone: throwing a reverse and a side screen on back-to-back plays is ugly. But, I won't complain too much since it's the preseason. The skill position players looked really good, and I'm struggling to think of one who wasn't impressive. I guess I'd take Joel Dreessen as the weak link if you made me pick someone, but I didn't think he looked bad at all. 

The offense came out and used a lot of I-Formation, which isn't a shock to anyone who has been a Texans fan for awhile. What was surprising was the amount of 2 WR/I-Form plays the Texans ran where the wideouts were both on the same side of the field. That was a bit of a new wrinkle. They also really cut down on the amount of motion before the snap, at least compared to what was done under Kyle Shanahan. They also quick-snapped the Cardinals a few times, which was nice to see.

On the offensive line, Duane Brown had some problems on a screen outside, and Kasey Studdard had an embarrassing block on Ben Tate's first run in the NFL. Let's take a look!

There's a good way to get your spot stolen by Wade Smith


Dan Orlovsky did not impress me. Tripping over yourself near the goal line isn't a good start, and for all his physical attributes running the bootleg, he had real problems in the red zone even when he had a lot of time to make a decision. He looked tenative, and the offensive line didn't do him any favors. The couple of good throws he did make came on balls where his receiver was either wide open or all he had to do was lead the receiver into an open area. In short, if that was the game where he made Kubiak feel comfortable, you may want to buy the extra strength bleach if Schaub gets hurt this year, because it's going to be all play-action dumpoffs all the time.

Stevie Slaton had his ups and downs. Like Orlovsky, I thought he didn't get a lot of help from either his offensive line or the formations the offense used. They were going with a lot of two tight-end I-Formation sets with Steve, and that is obviously never going to be his strength. I think ultimately they were just testing him to see if he could be a red zone back, and he failed that test. Good agility, and he broke a few tackles, but terrible vision on more than a few occasions. The goal line fumble obviously didn't help his case.

On the offensive line, there is no nice way to say this: Chris White was an absolute disaster at center. He missed a number of blocks, and well, this play speaks for itself:

This wasn't a one-time thing. He really fouled up quite a few plays and made Orlovsky's existence a living hell.

On the other side, I loved what I saw out of Rashad Butler, who made a few nifty blocks and who I continue to think wouldn't be a huge downgrade from Brown in pass-protection, if at all. Wade Smith didn't really impress me at all; in fact, he got completely turned around on one play, which is damn embarrassing even if he did manage to essentially "box out" his assignment.

As far as the other skill players, Jakespeare dominated the only scoring drive of the second half against the Cardinals 2s, as he should have. Loved what I saw out of James Casey. He even got a snap at fullback in a Full House backfield. Jack Corcoran wasn't overly impressive but had a few decent blocks.


John David Booty was painful. Jeremiah Johnson was much better than Chris Henry in my eyes. Neither of them can pass block to save their lives though, and that's going to be a big problem early. The Cardinals basically ended the last drive with big blitzes that the Texans RBs either couldn't pick up or picked another blocker off while trying to pick up.

I liked what I saw out of Dorin Dickerson, especially his route-running, since that was a big concern to me. There may be a goal-line threat there this year. Garrett Graham was an unimpressive blocker and a decent pass-catcher. He also saw a play or two as a fullback. I also liked what I saw out of Shelley Smith, but again, against the Cardinals third-teamers. Meh.


Watching this video makes me feel like Hank Hill probably feels after he gives his lawn an especially good cut.



I really enjoyed some of Frank Bush's blitzes on the opening couple of drives. Obviously he didn't do it as much as I would've liked, but that's par for the course at this point. My favorite came on the second play the Cardinals had from scrimmage. Cushing actually splits to cover wide, and Pollard goes up behind him. Then, instead of Pollard coming on a blitz, Cushing comes from the side essentially untouched and the play is blown up in the backfield:

Other than Mario's sheer domination of Brandon Keith, which I put in .gif form in the post-game thread, Zac Diles impressed me most. That didn't mean he was the best player on the field, but he looked noticeably quicker, and he made a few really big plays, not just the tip on Troy Nolan's interception. Glover "No TDs" Quin continued to play out of the slot when the team went to the nickel, so he can continue not allowing touchdowns.

Amobi Okoye looked good, but he has always had a tendency to look good against bad pass-blocking guards, and Alan Faneca hasn't been a good pass-blocker for years.


Frank Okam just isn't a good football player. If the Texans see him every day in practice, and he was as bad as he was in this game, then I can see why they shy away from big noses, because he can't hold leverage to save his life. He looks like a beached whale when he tries to do a spin move. Here is a depressing video of the nose tackle getting pushed four yards off the line of scrimmage:


On the other side, I didn't see too much penetration from Earl Mitchell, but he did have one especially good spin move, which unfortunately will join the 2009 Texans in the "hurry but no sack" Hall Of Fame:

Connor Barwin looked good against the second-teamers. Darryl Sharpton had the pick, but other than that didn't impress me much beyond solid tackling, and the pick was on a bobbled pass over the middle, not really a plus in coverage. I generally liked what I saw out of Troy Nolan, given the caveat that he didn't really cover anyone. He did show some decent instincts though, and that's important for a Texans FS.

Bush ran the two-minute drill almost entirely with three-man rushes, which, if you're going to play prevent, is probably smarter than doing it with four-man rushes. I give that move a thumbs up even though I loathe the Red Carpet Prevent Zone. The extra traffic did make a difference on the Nolan interception.


Pannel Egboh and Mitch Unrein took turns getting pressures against Cardinals G-turned-T Hermann Johnson, whose credentials for playing LT include "being really really tall". 

Sherrick McManis looked okay in run support, gave up too much cushion on the sideline in coverage. I still like Mark Parson, and continue to root for him to get a spot on the second team. I thought he played better than the majority of the corners the Texans used.

Fred Bennett should probably be cut now that the part of training camp where we want guys to feel good about themselves is over. I also hope Bush didn't let how poorly all his blitzes went with the third string turn him off of blitzing. If there is one thing we don't want, it's for him to be discouraged from blitzing.


Kind of a bummer that Kubiak didn't let Rackers get a chance from 51 to really impress him. He says that he was going for the Hail Mary, I say he just didn't want to give Rackers a chance to beat out Brown on the game.

Brown did typically outdistance Rackers on kickoffs, which fits in well with the earlier theories presented that Rackers' leg strength is down but he will be more accurate than Brown.

Trindon Holliday looked downright scared at times. Although blocking like this didn't help:

That is from Jack Corcoran's upcoming DVD: How To Not Impress Your Special Teams Coach.

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