The preseason is mercifully over. The Houston Texans fought a long and sometimes dreary game and wound up 17-13 victors. Obviously, victories in the preseason mean something. You’d rather win than lose any time of year and winning beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Still, the biggest takeaway from the game was that C.J. Stroud got to play, led a touchdown drive, and left the game without injury.
The outcome of the game could have been predicted when the New Orleans Saints announced that none of their starters would play. That is the usual case when teams play their last preseason game. The Texans really wanted Stroud to have success, so they committed to playing him a couple of series. We will practice displaying the numbers as we do in the regular season, but the numbers themselves don’t mean much.
Total Yards: Saints 348, Texans 235
Rushing Yards: Texans 131, Saints 91
Passing Yards: Saints 257, Texans 104
Total Plays: Saints 77, Texans 61
Total Passing plays: Saints 56, Texans 30
Total Rushing plays: Saints 21, Texans 31
Total Yards Per Play: Saints 4.5, Texans 3.9
Sacks: Saints 3, Texans 2
Penalties: Saints 2/15, Texans 5/45
Time of Possession: Saints 30:09, Texans 29:51
Turnovers: Saints 2, Texans 0
The Saints obviously won the battle of the yards, but they weren’t all that efficient. If you could the sacks, they dropped back 56 times and only managed 257 passing yards, so that was less than five yards per drop back. However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s go to the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Three players really stood out on the offensive side of the ball. Stroud did what everyone hoped he would do. He threw four balls and they were all placed well. The Saints made a good play on the first one and Robert Woods was unable to reel in the second one. He evaded pressure well and showed growth for the third game in a row. We will get to the receivers in a minute.
Xavier Hutchinson may have been the Keystone Light Player of the Game. I don’t give out prestigious honors in the preseason, so a crummy light beer seems appropriate. He made some difficult grabs and came within an eyelash of making a great special teams play as well. He showed enough versatility to make the team. Additionally, Mike Boone solidified himself as the third running back with some good runs and good catches. He also scored the team’s second touchdown.
The defense didn’t distinguish themselves all night, but I’m assuming that DeMeco Ryans will release whatever wrinkles he has when the Texans open the season in Baltimore. This is two weeks in a row where the wide receivers had some key drops and committed some key penalties. John Metchie and Tank Dell didn’t play as receivers, so I will give the whole group a pass. The depth just isn’t there, but we should have expected that in an offseason where they used only one premium pick on a wide receiver and committed zero premium free agent dollars to the position. Robert Woods and Noah Brown are decent football players, but they aren’t X factors at this point.
Furthermore, the presence of Dalton Schultz in the passing game will be huge, but if he goes down this team could be in a world of hurt. I say could because we don’t know how the next two weeks will go. Cuts will be made. Players will be added and there might even be another trade or two. So, we will have to see what will happen.
Coming into the final game, there were few real dramatic questions involving the starting lineup on either side of the ball, but the Texans could have one festering problem. They invested a top 15 pick in Kenyon Green. Clearly, they aren’t ready to give up on him yet, but the sand in the hour glass might be reaching its end. This team is ready to move onto the competitive portion of its rebuilding. It can’t afford to throw guys in and just hope they get better.
That brings us to the next obvious question: if not Green than who? Michael Deiter has some experience as an internal offensive lineman, but he didn’t play a single offensive play last season in Miami. Jarrett Patterson spent a good deal of time there at Notre Dame and during the preseason. If one of them could even be average now it would be a huge upgrade. Obviously, the hope is that Green can grow into the position, but his time is running out.
As we move into the regular season we will be seeing two Value of Things each week. The second one will look at PFF scores and the next opponent for the Texans. We have no PFF scores in the preseason, but we will look ahead to the Baltimore Ravens in Roses and Thorns later on this week.