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Value of Things: The ins and outs of Texans vs. Dolphins

What were the bright spots and lowlights of the second preseason game?

NFL: Houston Texans Training Camp Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone that pays attention to preseason football knows that sometimes things go this way. The Houston Texans lost to the Miami Dolphins 28-3 and it might not have even been that close. Yet, there is always something positive to take from any game and this one was no different.

The fact is that it is preseason for us at Battle Red Blog too. So, we are effectively practicing what we plan to bring to you during the regular season. So, we will go over the numbers from the game and we will bring you the good, the bad, and the ugly as well. We will also take a look ahead at what the third preseason game might bring.

The Numbers

Total Yards: Miami 398, Houston 186

Rushing Yards: Miami 205, Houston 32

Passing Yards: Miami 193, Houston 154

Total Plays: Miami 69, Houston 48

Yards Per Play: Miami 5.8, Houston 3.9

Rushing Attempts: Miami 38, Houston 14

Passing Attempts: Miami 31, Houston 34

Sacks: Miami 0, Houston 2

Turnovers: Miami 1, Houston 0

Penalties: Miami 6/34, Houston 7/35

Time of Possession: Miami 38:42, Houston 21:18

So, two categories went the Texans way. You could argue they are the two most important categories. As David Culley used to say, “the most important part of football is the football.” Well, the Texans did a better job of taking care of the football than the Dolphins did. Obviously it had nothing to do with the results, but we have to hang our hat somewhere.

The Good

The Texans top two draft picks showed up and showed out. Stroud was 7 for 12 in one half of football, but the real key was the fact that he was able to nimbly dodge some blitzes and made two or three really impressive throws we would have not seen last year from any Texans quarterback. No one needs to reserve a spot in Canton for him yet. It is only his second live action in and NFL game. He still has some areas where he needs to grow. There were a few missed connections where it was clear that he and the receiver weren’t on the same page. Still, the second effort was better than the first. If that keeps happening it will be a good year.

Will Anderson finished with one of the two sacks, two tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble. That’s not bad for only a few series. In fact, I’m certain if he produced like that every week he would be the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Like Stroud, he did more this week than last week. We likely won’t see either of them next week and if that is the last we see of them before the season we have to come away feeling pretty good.

The Bad

Both C.J. Stroud and Davis Mills would have better numbers if the receivers did a better job catching the football. In particular, Mills 10 for 22 day would have likely been 14 or 15 for 22 with quality receiver play. We knew going into the season that receiver was going to be a relative hole on this team. Tank Dell didn’t play, so more time was given to guys that likely won’t play on Sundays. That’s the nature of the beast this time of year.

Unfortunately, guys like Xavier Hutchinson and John Metchie really aren’t asserting themselves yet. Obviously, we are not out at practices so we aren’t getting the whole picture. For instance, if you based your impressions of Noah Brown just on what you’ve seen in two preseason games you’d probably send him packing Monday morning. Yet, we’ve heard positive reports from those covering the team. So, hopefully next week’s game brings some more hope on that front.

The Ugly

As much as we rag on Davis Mills and the offense, the worst part of the 2022 season was the run defense and it wasn’t even close. They surrendered more rushing yards than any team in my lifetime. I’m turning 50 this year. Granted, that’s 17 games versus the 14 they played when I was born in the 1970s. Still, they weren’t competitive for most of the 2022 season.

This year was supposed to be different and obviously there is still hope. Still, surrendering more than 200 yards rushing to this team is inexcusable. DeMeco Ryans will likely take these guys to the woodshed this week and we know that many of the guys we saw will be selling insurance in September. In short, this has to get better. If it doesn’t get better they really don’t have much of a shot.

Looking Ahead

Clearly, this team has some position groups that need to look better. The final preseason game is desperation time for many of these guys. They are desperate to show good tape for the other 31 teams in the league. A few of them will hopefully earn spots here. For the Texans, they also need to find out if they need to look at the waiver wire following final cut downs to see if they can find any hidden gems at some of these key positions.

The good news is that the first strings on both sides of the ball are competitive enough. If this team stays healthy they will compete in most of the games they play. However, there are still a few positions where they are dangerously thin. That includes the offensive and defensive lines in addition to the tight ends and wide receivers. You can’t fix everything in one offseason.