Ouch. That one was hard to watch. I wish I could find something witty to say to make everyone laugh the pain away, but I can’t. Feel free to vent in the comments after chewing on the game notes.
First Team Offense
1. Jonathan Grimes, despite being listed as the team’s sixth running back, earned the start tonight. Considering all the praise that Grimes has received in the last week at practice, that is significant. Andre Brown’s roster spot might not be so secure after all.
2. Fitzpatrick almost threw two interceptions early. The first near miss was a slightly off target pass that bounced off of Garret Graham’s hands. The second was a whip route that was inches away from being undercut by a defender. Fitzpatrick’s decisions on both of these throws were the right ones, but he still seemed just a fraction of a second "late" at times when delivering the ball.
3. Fitz finally did get picked off while targeting C.J. Fiedorowicz on a stick route after a deflection at the line of scrimmage. While Fitzpatrick’s ball placement was spotty and his timing a little bit off, the interception was not entirely his fault.
4. The Texans offense ran almost exclusively through Jonathan Grimes in the first quarter while the passing game floundered, and he did not disappoint. As a one-cut slashing running back in the mold of Arian Foster, Grimes certainly excelled in zone plays more than gap plays, but I did not see a "bad" run from him all night that was not the fault of the offensive line. Holes were hit, tackles were broken, and Grimes just all around solid.
5. Despite not catching a single pass, C.J. Fiedorowicz was really exciting tonight. He got a bunch of snaps throughout the first half as the team’s starting inline "Y" tight end, and boy did he earn every one of them. At least once per drive, the "Polish Hat" managed to absolutely bury a defender on a run play. On first viewing, I saw Fiedorowicz get beat just one time by Alex Okafor, who was able to win the leverage game and rip underneath to make a tackle. He did false start once, but then won the very next snap by stoning Okafor in pass protection. Provided that Fiedorowicz develops into a capable pass catcher, the Texans might have found themselves their own bigger, stronger version of Dwayne Allen.
6. Alfred Blue had a few really nice snaps throughout the night. He is not the best athlete in the world, but he seemed to have a knack for picking his way through the spotty blocking in front of him. I really liked his vision tonight.
7. The first team offense played the entire first half and were completely ineffective outside of the run game. Bill O’Brien has preached situational football throughout training camp, so he left the starters in to finish out the half with a two-minute drill. Fitz first throw was an ill-advised jump ball to Martin that fell incomplete. On his second pass, Fitzpatrick climbed the pocket to avoid pressure and threw a nice deep strike to Mike Thomas over the middle.
With a minute and two timeouts left, Fitz hit Thomas again over the middle for another first down. On the next snap, he avoided pressure one more time and scrambled for a big gain. Things are looking like they are finally looking up for the Texans starters, even if they are facing the Cardinals second team defense.
With no timeouts left and 17 seconds on the clock in the Arizona red zone, Fitzpatrick threw his second interception of the night to a dropping linebacker that might as well have been completely invisible. This drive is honestly a microcosm of Ryan Fitzpatrick as a quarterback – good…good…good…turnover. I sincerely hope that the Texans defense is good enough to make up for this potentially erratic offense.
First Team Defense
1. Speaking of the defense, Jadeveon Clowney is looking to be well worth the first overall pick. On the second snap of the game, Clowney and J.J. Watt were lined up right next to one another. Both of them immediately flashed into the back field, with Watt getting his first sack of the preseason. This duo has potential to be something special…at least as long as both of them are allowed to disrupt the line of scrimmage. Clowney gave up a touchdown in coverage on the opening drive that was luckily called back on a penalty. The less he drops to cover tight ends, the better.
2. Brandon Harris was absolutely awful tonight. After such a rocky training camp, I was surprised to see him run with the first team at all. After giving up a constant stream of big catches, a touchdown, and a huge pass interference penalty, he might not get to start again.
3. D.J. Swearinger might some bone-crunching hits tonight on both defense and special teams. I saw him get blown off the ball a couple times because of fault technique, but when he meets the ball carrier they generally stop moving. As long as he buckles down and stops getting taken advantage of due to lapses in concentration, he could end up being a really, really good cog in this defense.
4. In Clowney’s second series, he shot into the back field and smoked the ball carrier for a big loss. His combination of size, speed, power, and quickness is awe-inspiring.
5. Jared Veldheer had problems with Clowney’s speed and length throughout the first quarter. The first overall pick was just a finger length away from multiple sacks.
1. The second team offense completely melted down with penalties. The lack of discipline, particularly along the offensive line, was downright dumbfounding.
1. A.J. Bouye looked like he had a nice game tonight. I saw him plant, flip, and close on a deep out route in the second quarter that would have been an interception if the throw were on target. He honestly looked better than Brandon Harris. I also want to give him a shout out for saving a sure touchdown after a blown Eddie Pleasant tackle. I loved his effort.
2. I just want to take moment to congratulate Cardinals rookie receiver John Brown for destroying pretty much the entire Texans secondary tonight. He was spectacular.
Make no mistake about it, this was a disastrous game for the Texans. The offense couldn’t move the ball through the air, penalties piled up early and often, and pretty much all that Bill O’Brien’s club had to show for it was a few nice runs from Jonathan Grimes and a tackle for loss from Jadeveon Clowney.
I predict a lot of gassers in this team’s future. The sheer amount of mistakes in this game was inexcusable, even if it was "just the preseason". It’s time for Bill O’Brien to prove his mettle as a head coach. If he can get the team to bounce back after this train wreck, then he will have earned his money and then some.
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