For many fans, these preseason games simply don’t count. Given how many starters were out for the Saints in week 1, that goes double for the Texans’ close win. But the real time practice for second stringers is invaluable, and we fans can get a glimpse into the inner workings of teams’ preparation for the regular season.
Houston Texans Preseason Week 1: Offense
For anyone still wondering whether the Houston Texans are all in on Davis Mills, rest assured. Although he was only on the field long enough to connect on 3/3 passes, Jeff Driskel surely cemented his own position as No. 2 or 3.
Driskel struggled through the first half, putting up a TD early in the 3rd quarter only to throw an interception on the next drive. That one was returned by Chris Hansen for 44 yards the other way. The second half went even worse for Driskel. He ended up throwing 2 more interceptions before squeezing in another TD to barely win the game.
The Texans’ running backs seemed to have a very different day. Anyone looking for a breakout from newly acquired Marlon Mack will have to wait a bit longer. But Dameon Pierce, currently listed as 3rd string, had an excellent outing. The rookie Pierce ran for 49 yards on 5 attempts, pumping up the hype over what he can bring to this team.
Another position that showed off their youthful talents for the Texans was WR. Rookie Johnny Johnson III and 2nd year WR Jalen Camp each hauled in a TD. Camp caught another pass that stretched out over 49 yards, raising the prospect that he may become a starter sooner rather than later.
Houston Texans Preseason Week 1: Defense
The Texans’ defense bent but did not break from the changes throughout the game. The Saints scored their only TD on their first drive, and never found any consistency against the Texans’ D.
Neither team won the turnover rate in this game. Jeff Driskel gave up 3 interceptions for the Texans, while the Saints gave up 1 interception and 2 fumbles. But the Texans were able to capitalize more off of the turnovers that they recovered. The Saints turned two interceptions into field goals, while the Texans turned their interception into a touchdown and their first recovered fumble into a field goal.
While it was close for all 60 minutes of game time, the fact that the Texans were able to sweep the win right at the end really speaks to Lovie Smith’s talents as a coach. His ability to rally the defense to own their mistakes and step up, and his management of the game clock were impressive. Even just 2 years into the rebuild, this has to bolster the Texans’ confidence in their leadership.
Ready for the Regular Season?
As with any preseason game this one really needs to be taken in with a grain of salt. Numbers don’t lie and the Texans won, but the Saints heavily handicapped themselves by benching so many of their starters. It was a smart move for a top ten defense, preserving the health of their stars for the regular season.
The biggest takeaway from this game should be that Lovie Smith is ready to prove that his Texans can compete with even the best of teams. Nobody’s expecting them to win the Super Bowl this year, but they definitely should not be underestimated.
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