2014 pre-season game 1, in the books
The Texans first pre-season game is in the books. I expected a rough game. O’Brien wasn’t making a game plan against the Cardinals but looking more to see what his people would do and how they would react to situations that requiring them to adapt and make changes in a real game, rather than practice environments. I think the first round of cuts will be much easier decisions that originally thought.
Being pre-season, it’s virtually impossible to break down every player or even position due to the large number of people involved in pre-season games. I will say that Clowney, though making a few rookie mistakes, showed he will be a guy to fear for anyone in the back field this season and his potential to drop into coverage for the future looks pretty nice. I saw three glaring areas in need of improvement. Those areas are Pre-snap discipline, secondary backing one another up and QB play.
Pre-snap discipline on the o-line was horrible once the ones came off the field. There was one error made by Rookie TE the rest was all o-line follies. It’s clear that O’Brien needs to have a long talk about short NFL careers with Mr. #62. Name is probably not needed but then, he will probably be a casualty of the first round of cuts if he can’t control himself an learn his own team’s snap count.
I can’t count the number of defensive plays that showed a solid need in the secondary backing each other up on passing plays. That is an area that requires a fluid, collective thought process. Communication is clearly necessary and helping one another to read the QB in order to converge on the ball in a timely manner while backing up the person assigned to that coverage. This is something that is coachable and can be cleaned up before the regular season begins. It’s also a difficult issue to discover until you are live in a game time situations; something a first year coach will have to work on with a new scheme in place.
I’ll wrap this up with the main position of concern going into this season, the QB spot. I had certain expectations for Ryan Fitzpatrick and he did not disappoint. His most exiting play was done with his feet. Ball placements were hit and miss but, unfortunately, more miss than hit. It’s not easy to say harsh things and such a good person but I can’t see Fitzpatrick making the offense show its full potential if he continues to play the way he did in this first game.
Keenum never got a chance to show us too much thanks to excessive o-line penalties forcing long situations before a play was even started. The few time he was able to complete a play, he looked to do pretty well but then, it’s hard on even the best, most experienced QBs to go 1st and 20 when working with the number 2s. Keenum did give us a chance to see he improved greatly in his pocket presence over last season and one play the stood out was when the pocket was closing in around him and he stepped up to avoid the pass rush and was able to make what looked like yard losing play into a gain by dumping off to the running back (I believe it was Alfred Blue).
Tom Savage showed me pretty much what I have seen from his college film. Savage has a difficult time picking up on blitzes and once the Cardinals realized that, they took full advantage where they got 2 sacks in a row with the second resulting in a safety. Savage did show that he has a strong arm but ball placement could have been better and I think he has potential to develop if he can learn to make better reads, pre-snap, and react better in the pocket to NFL pass rushers.
All-in-all, Billy O put a lot on his team’s plate and some of them choked on the high volume while others showed to have a big appetite. Let’s see how our boys progress by the beginning of regular season.