A dominating defense would carry the Texans deep into the playoffs. The defense the Texans played against the 49ers Sunday night will earn also-ran status in the AFC South.
The final score, 24-13 in favor of the good guys, is misleading. When likely opening day starters were on the field the score was 13-7 in the 49ers favor. If the 49ers had not fumbled twice, one returned for a Texans touchdown and the other recovered by the Texans on the 2 yard line as the 49ers were about to score their second touchdown, the Texans starters would have lost their segment of the game 20-0.
Only allowing 13 points for the entire game looks pretty good, but giving up 20 points in 1 1/2 quarters, which is where the game was heading until the fumble recovery, presents an entirely different picture. The starting defense looked sluggish, no penetration, no pass rush, tackling was atrocious. The Texans defense gave up 409 yards while the offense produced only 265.
Consider that as the first preseason game there was little, if any, game planning. J. J. Watt is on the PUP list. Jadeveon Clowney is injured, reportedly rehabbing in a Louisiana casino. Brian Cushing did not play (coaching decision). That is The Ugly scenario from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly series, J. J. Watt and two starting linebackers not available.
Things got better after the starters retired. Penetration and pass rush were somewhat better, the tackling was much crisper and the pass coverage improved. I can say with confidence that our non-starters who are likely to make the final roster are better than their non-starters, and our likely roster cuts are much better than their likely cuts. Now if our starters had shown-up…
Next: Individual performances