Saturday, August 9, 2014
Observation Deck: Houston Texans
By Tania Ganguli
One drive was enough for Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. He'd already seen what he needed to see out of starting quarterback Carson Palmer, who orchestrated an easy touchdown drive against a Houston Texans defense that had trouble covering his weapons.
Even though the Texans' front was stout, breakdowns in coverage throughout the defense, including but not limited to the secondary, culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald.
Drew Stanton replaced Palmer on the next drive and similarly tore up the Texans' defense. Cardinals quarterbacks threw 10 consecutive completions before their first incomplete pass.
Here are some other thoughts on the Texans' first preseason game of the season, a 32-0 loss in Glendale, Arizona:
- Let's start with the good. (We'll be done pretty quickly.) Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt lined up next to each other on the second play of the game and Watt blew by guard Jonathan Cooper, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, for an 8-yard sack. That's a combination that will be exciting to watch up front this season.
- Clowney was interesting to watch tonight. On a second-down running play, Clowney crushed a tight end (poor tight end, by the way) charged with blocking him and exploded into the backfield to destroy a Cardinals running play. That's the kind of speed and power we've seen from him throughout training camp when he's been allowed to practice. It also showed that when the Texans said he was just being managed, they were telling the truth. In coverage, Clowney's day was more mixed. He was beaten on a pass that would've been a touchdown, if not for a penalty on Arizona. There's a learning curve there as Clowney is learning how to be a linebacker. Nothing to worry about there, in my opinion.
- OK. Now for the bad. The first-team offense really struggled no matter whom it faced. Ryan Fitzpatrick played the entire first half and completed 6 of 14 passes for 55 yards. He threw two interceptions and no touchdowns for a passer rating of 14.6. One interception was tipped. The other was on a pass that was a little short. The second interception came on a drive when the offense actually was moving pretty well. It was so late in the half, though, that it's difficult to take much from that movement. The Cardinals had been swapping out players for a while at that point.
- Eliminating mistakes is a big part of Bill O'Brien's focus with this team. The Texans' second-team offense started the second half with a delay of game. In practice, as has happened often with that unit, that would've earned the whole group a lap around the field -- or at least to the sideline and back. There was a span during the third quarter when the Texans committed penalties on three consecutive plays and four of five. Late in the fourth quarter, the Texans had 12 men on the field for an extra point. That's the kind of lack of discipline that O'Brien hates.
- Secondary and offensive line depth issues were made very clear during this game. The Texans' receivers, all the way down the depth chart, had a lot of success against the Texans' secondary during training camp. That was a warning sign for what we saw Saturday. It is important to note that they were without starting corner Johnathan Joseph, but the drop-off shouldn't be as big as it looked tonight.