It’s funny how everyone knows the preseason doesn’t count, yet we all get excited for the games. Last week’s battle with the Kansas City Chiefs was no different. As far as the outcome, it was truly meaningless, but that doesn’t equate to a total lack of importance. While the six reasons to get excited about the 2018 Houston Texans listed below might all turn out to be Lestar Jean moments, let’s talk about the bright spots.
Offensive Line: While they certainly didn’t perform like a pack of All-Pros and didn’t face a ferocious front seven, Houston’s offensive line looked vastly improved from last year. Deshaun Watson stayed clean as a whistle (in fact, I’m not sure he even broke a sweat) and Lamar Miller had a nice, effective run in the opening drive. For anyone paying attention, this group certainly is a step up over the series of traffic cones deployed last season.
Brandon Weeden: If you had any doubt, this guy has a cannon and isn’t afraid to sling it. From his command of the playbook to his control in the pocket to his ability to move at the speed of NFL play, Weeden proved he deserved to stay in Houston when Tom Savage was handed his walking papers. Should DW4 go down again, the Texans are much better off with Weeden than Savage. You might even be able to argue that Joe Webb looked better than Savage…
Julie’n Davenport: Here’s a mid-round pick entering his second season as the starter in one of the most important positions on the team. Not only was he impressive, the announcers were discussing how he spent the offseason learning everything he could about defense so he knew how to read what was coming at him and how to adjust accordingly. With that mindset, and with guys like J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, Romeo Crennel and Johnathan Joseph there to teach him what to look for, expect and react to, this kid should turn out more than just alright. And let’s not forget that 7’3” wingspan.
Duke Ejiofor: Although Houston couldn’t manage to land a star quarterback for years, picking up a great pass rusher seems like it just comes naturally. Ejiofor showed the same “only runs in top gear” motor we’ve all come to know and love via Watt, Mercilus and the others. Pairing him with Jadeveon Clowney, Dylan Cole, D.J. Reader, Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham is going to give Romeo Crennel even more opportunity to shotgun blast an opposing offensive line. This kid is embracing the “be the best teammate I can be” philosophy and doing it in an exciting manner.
Special Teams: This might have been the most competent special teams outing in recent memory. While that isn’t saying a lot, competent is improvement in Houston. Sure, Tyler Ervin is still back there fielding kicks for some unknown reason, but hopefully some other guys will get a chance this week when Houston hosts the 49ers Saturday night. At least Ervin managed to keep the ball off the ground…
Troymaine Pope: Talk about flying under the radar. This kid has wings, not wheels. Watching him jet through the line reminded me of an early, unpolished Darren Sproles. Having a guy like that to offset Miller and (hopefully) D’Onta Foreman should give Bill O’Brien some better options than he had last season. While the jury is still out on whether Foreman will ever return to form and Alfred Blue appears to be firmly entrenched on the roster as the A-Gap Guy, keeping Pope around might lead to some unexpectedly explosive running plays at just the right time.
While none of these players are stars, knowing that Watson, DAandre Hopkins, Watt, Clowney and the Honey Badger are all prowling the sideline, waiting to add their abilities to the efforts of the rest of the team, it’s easy to get optimistic that the Texans can return to form this season. With all the talk of J.J. Watt aiming for his next DPOY and excitement about just what Deshaun Watson will do to opposing defenses this year, it’s okay to amp up the energy level and get jazzed for the 2018 Houston Texans.
What were your top highlights from the first preseason game? See something that got your adrenaline flowing? Waiting for this weekend’s game to check out something that didn’t play out last week?