The third regular season game is the most important one of the preseason. Teams are trying to get their starting lineups nailed down and get those guys in sync. Here is my review of the Texans offense from Sunday:
Osweiler on Target
For the first time this preseason, I saw Brock Osweiler as a guy capable of leading this offense. He finished 11/13 for 146 yards and two touchdowns and was very accurate. My favorite two plays were the third down throw on the first drive that kept the drive going and the fade to Will Fuller for the touchdown.
The first was a third and long after Carson Palmer‘s first interception. After going through his reads he escaped the pocket and found Braxton Miller for a gain of 17. It produced a first and goal inside the five. Osweiler is not a scrambler but he showed that he has mobility and can throw on the run.
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The second was on the fourth drive of the game after the long kickoff return by Tyler Ervin to the Arizona 46. After picking up about 20 yards on the first three plays of the drive Osweiler hit Fuller on a fade route, which was a perfectly placed pass where only Fuller could get it.
Running Game Still Needs Work
While the Texans were playing a bunch of backup linemen, they got almost no push in the running game. The Texans gained 48 yards on 23 carries in total. Lamar Miller carried the ball four times, and gained four yards. Alfred Blue led the team in rushing with 17 yards on six carries.
Miller did run for the first touchdown of the game as he went off left tackle from a few yards out to get in. That was the lone highlight of the running game. Kenny Hilliard came into the game in the second half and did not do much, gaining no yards on three carries. I thought Hilliard could be a solid player in the running back rotation after watching him in San Francisco.
Jaelen Strong, a player I expected a lot more from this season and preseason, did not seem to have very good chemistry with Osweiler, but worked well with Tom Savage. He caught the Texans third third offensive touchdown of the game.
The center position is still a huge concern. In the first half Greg Mancz did not read a blitz right up the A gap by middle linebacker Kevin Minter, who blew right past him and sacked Osweiler. The other sack came when Chris Clark got beat off the edge by Chandler Jones.
Braxton Miller has developed a really good rapport with Osweiler. He caught all three passes thrown his way and has shown his versatility. Miller opens up the field by running those underneath routes with the precision of a veteran.
DeAndre Hopkins caught two passes for 31 yards in this game. He has been quiet this preseason, but teams are going to take notice of Miller and Fuller, which could very easily open things up for Hopkins and make teams pick their poison.
There is only so much that can be taken from these preseason games because teams run vanilla defenses and don’t blitz much. But we saw that Osweiler can throw the ball with accuracy and make some good reads. He also didn’t take that many chances, throwing a lot of short routes, but like the defenses the offenses don’t use their whole playbook.
The 34 points looks pretty good, but considering one of the touchdowns was on defense and the two touchdown drives that Osweiler engineered both started in Cardinals territory, this performance should not be exaggerated. In the regular season you can’t count on getting opportunities that good regularly.
I’ll cut the run game some slack because they were playing with a lot of backup linemen and the Cardinals have a tough front seven. But the performance by the running game will simply not cut it in the regular season.