We are now halfway through the 2016 NFL Preseason. The Texans moved to 2-0 after defeating the Saints at NRG Stadium tonight. Even though it was a "preseason game", it had the gut-wrenching drama and intensity of a regular season game. It literally came down to the last second, as Garrett Grayson drove the Saints all the way down to the Texans' 30 yard line with one second left. After a boneheaded facemask penalty by Tony Washington, the game ended in the end zone by Robert Wilson, who picked off the last pass of the game to seal the deal. Whew, that was close!
Now that everyone had an opportunity to change his or her soiled underwear, let's break this game down. Here's a brief "progress report" from tonight's game: Quarterbacks:Brock Osweiler showed a lot of improvement from last week to this week. He was much better than what we saw in last week's limited sample against San Francisco. Tonight, Osweiler was 12-19 for 129 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. It seems like some of the communication flaws with his receivers from last week have been addressed.
Brock should play the majority of the next game against the Cardinals. In my opinion, that will be a better test for us to really see where this offense is. Tom Savage was solid tonight but not spectacular, going 7-12 for 75 yards. Yet in vintage Tom Savage fashion, he was sacked twice primarily due to him taking too long to get rid of the football.
Brandon Weeden was a perfect 4-4 for 54 yards, but in my opinion, his "roster bubble" will burst at any moment as the coaches begin making evaluations for the first round of cuts, which must happen no later than Tuesday, August 30, 2016.
Running Backs: Nothing much to report here, and that's scary. 24 carries for 59 yards as a group with no touchdowns and a 2.5 YPC. Ouch.
Offensive Line: Protected decently, but he services of Nick Martin were clearly missed tonight. The unit is struggling to open holes for the running backs.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:Will Fuller was brilliant tonight. He had 4 receptions for 73 yards and a TD. Besides Fuller, I thought it was a very pedestrian game for the receivers, though Braxton Miller flashed. There was only one completion over 20 yards for the entire game. Not good at all.
Defensive Line/Linebackers: Surprisingly good pressure tonight on the Saints' quarterbacks. Drew Brees had a tough time when he played, as he was pressured consistently; he even threw an interception to Johnathan Joseph. Overall, a solid performance tonight by the front seven. Dare I say that Jadeveon Clowney had a very good night; although the stat sheet will not show how good he was, he was an absolute mismatch for the Saints' tackles who tried to block him. Clowney did have a sack and a tackle for a loss. It's clear that he's either well rested and ready to play, or he transferred his anger for John McClain to the Saints.
Secondary: Two interceptions as mentioned above, one by Johnathan Joseph and another by Robert Nelson to seal the game. Charles James II also played like a man possessed.
Special Teams:Akeem Hunt had an exciting kickoff return for 31 yards. Nick Novak was a perfect 3-3 tonight, and Shane Lechler continues to defy age by booming punts as if they're leaving the launchpad from Johnson Space Center.
Coaching: Nothing fancy tonight. I thought we saw a very solid game plan, but very few extra wrinkles tonight. I expect that to change next week. Offensively speaking, I expect to see the Texans be more aggressive and attempt to test the secondary of the Cardinals, which is one of the best in the league.
Get your popcorn ready. Next Sunday is going to be a slobber-knocker between two defensive juggernauts.