HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Can you believe it’s already mid-August? You know what that means.
Hold on for it.
AWWWWWWWWWWW YEAAAAAAAAAAAYAHUH. Clay Walker crushing that jam is like 35 cups of coffee, a bucket of ice water down your back, and a slap to the face. Combined. Gonna Fly Now, Eye of the Tiger, and Hearts on Fire may as well be funeral songs.
This Texans preseason ought to be fairly interesting. We’ve got an open quarterback competition, a potpourri of running backs trying to fill in for Arian Foster, among other storylines. Now that I’m jacked up like a toddler doing the Dew, here are some brief thoughts on the Texans 23 – 10 win over the 49ers to kick off the preseason.
Quarterback Controversy? Naw . . . more like Quarterback Fantasy
Let’s forget that controversy and fantasy barely rhyme . . . and then look at this tweet:
Who needs Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady when you’ve got THREE OF THEM, AMIRITE?
Let’s start with Brian Hoyer. He got the start and only threw four passes (2-4, 67 yards and a TD), but his 9 yard pass to Garrett Graham AND 58 yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III impressed me. Quarterbacks demonstrate their value most in two separate situations: when they’re in a two score hole, and on third and long. Hoyer’s completions came in the latter situation: on 3rd and 9, then 3rd and 8. With Arian Foster out, the Texans will likely find themselves in that scenario often. Hoyer or Mallett will ultimately be responsible to help the Texans get a long first down.
Meanwhile, Mallett was efficient, completing 10 of 11 passes for 90 yards. A solid performance, especially if you remember O’Brien’s Hard Knocks tirade about a “stupid” Mallett throw. Ry-guy didn’t get a chance to show off the cannon – he seemed shackled, only throwing intermediate passes. That was likely head coach Bill O’Brien’s plan: to get Mallett to improve his mid range accuracy AND get him out of bad habits.
As for Tom Savage, it’s clear he’s taken a big step forward from last year. Despite shaky protection in the second half – to be expected, because how many backup offensive linemen make 53 man rosters in the NFL? – he made some nifty plays, including this scramble.
It’s entirely possible the 49ers are completely awful at football, thus the GROUNDBREAKING trifecta of 100+ QB ratings. That said, this was a positive first game for the Texans quarterbacks.
The quarterbacks played well, but they got a whole lot of help from the wideouts. Let’s start with Cecil Shorts III, who showed a level of speed AND run after the catch ability (yes, on only one play) that I haven’t seen from the Texans in my time covering the team (since mid ‘2011). I’m hoping we see more of Shorts next Saturday against the Broncos.
We’ve got to touch on that awkward . . . hour . . . inside the 49ers 5 yard line momentarily. But I’m hopeful that won’t be a problem in the future, at least assuming DeAndre Hopkins is on the field. Toss that guy a fade – like Hoyer did on the 2 point attempt – and I have absolute faith he’ll come down with the football. Props to Jaelen Strong – often criticized this training camp – for doing the same thing in the second half.
The Jay Prosch Fan Club
I’ve got a man crush on Texans fullback Jay Prosch. He’s been one of the sneaky best players at training camp, and kept up the hot play on Saturday night. He set up Alfred Blue for a couple of key runs: his long 32 yard carry, then a 4th & 1. The only thing that would have made the night complete? If he’d been able to punch it into the end zone.
So that sequence was awkward. All I remember while watching that failure transpire was “Wow, they’ve been on the one yard line for about 10 minutes. That’s probably bad.”
You could pin the struggles on backup offensive linemen. Or dismiss the sequence knowing jump ball machine DeAndre Hopkins was on the sideline. Or credit the 49ers and their defensive line depth. But the reality is this: the Texans will likely have problems on the goal line as long as Arian Foster is injured. Some backs have a knack for finding a sliver of space to sneak in and score, and right now Foster’s backups aren’t good enough. That will need to change quickly. Bill O’Brien showed last season that he’s aggressive in short yardage situations. But based on last night, he may have to tone it down in those situations going forward.
The Texans completely dominated Saturday night’s first quarter. And while they deserve a bit of credit, it’s quite possible that the 49ers – coming off one of the worst off-seasons in sports history – are entirely as bad as that situation would make you believe. Next Saturday against the Broncos will be a much better test.
Paul Gallant co-hosts the “B-Straw and Pauly G” show – weeknights 7-11 PM on SportsRadio 610. He also hosts SportsZone Unfiltered – Fridays at 10 PM – on The Kube: Channel 57. Get in touch with Paul via email or at his facebook page: Paul Gallant: SportsRadio610.