Despite it “only being preseason” what can we gather from the Texans thrilling 17-13 win over the Saints at NRG stadium?
An Ode to Football Fans
Well, my friends, it’s that time of year again. Football is back. The bulls are on parade and H-Town rejoices at the sound of victory that emanates from NRG stadium. While not the most dazzling win Texans fans have ever seen, there was a lot to learn from the feelings and footage of Saturday night. Here are my five biggest takeaways from the Texans Saturday night game. Let’s break it down.
One: Dameon Pierce is HIM
Starting with the most obvious point on this list: Dameon Pierce. I mean come on. Texans fans have been begging for an answer in the run game and like a swift bolt of lightning from the backfield, Pierce emerged. On his first run in the NFL, Pierce cut back against a folded offensive line, dodged a defender, and tore upfield for a 20-yard gain. Add in that he man-handled a blitzing defender in pass protection AND hawked down Chase Hansen after he picked the football, and it seems like the Texans’ backfield woes may soon be over. In total, Pierce rushed for 49 yards on five attempts for an average of 9.8 yards per attempt.
Two: Pitre Perfection
Another rookie shone brightly under the Saturday night lights as Jalen Pitre made his presence known across the field. He was all over the place, with clearly defined instincts for finding the ball. He almost made a diving interception (Tremon Smith made it first) and was constantly finding his way to the ball carrier in the run game. While we didn’t see much of Pitre’s skills in coverage, his nose for the ball and aggressive playstyle makes it seem like he may find his home in Houston for a long time to come.
Three: Carry On, Tremon
Tremon Smith looked good against the Saints. In general, he held up in coverage and he provided adequate flash in the return game. He also came up with the Texans’ first takeaway of the night, intercepting Ian Book on a pass intended for Juwan Johnson. Although he may not be destined for a role as CB1 in the Texans defense, fans should feel good about having an aggressive player at depth for the cornerback position.
Four: The Texans Takeaway Train Continues
A notable stand-out from the first pre-season game was that Lovie Smith’s defense still plays to get the ball back. The above-mentioned Tremon Smith interception was only the tip of the iceberg, with a botched snap that was recovered by Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and a Tae Davis/Fabian Moreau combo for another fumble recovery. Blake Cashman also tipped a pass that was nearly intercepted, but his display was encouraging in its own way.
Five: A Defensive Line With Depth
If you watched the game on Saturday, it was likely apparent that our defensive line has a LOT of depth (and I mean a LOT). In addition to the expected DL starters from the Texans’ depth chart, several players made a stand-out appearance in NRG. Derek Rivers was a player that I couldn’t take my eyes off of, as he seemed to live in the backfield for the duration of the night. He ended the night with two sacks, alongside rookie Kurt Hinish who notched his first, and Okoronkwo who also found paydirt.
A Taste of What’s to Come In Houston?
While preseason is never a fully accurate representation of what’s to come, it’s always encouraging to see the development that some of the players have gone through since their last snap. It’s a time for rookies to get their feet wet, veterans to shake off some of the rust, and new additions to get a feel for what a new system could hold. Over the next few weeks, expect to see some of the starters put in a few more reps and the playbook open up a little bit more. Until then, see you this Friday for the next game against the Rams!
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