Houston defeated San Francisco 24-13 last night in what was a typically boring preseason contest. Brock Osweiler is obviously the topic of conversation after he was largely unimpressive in his first start as a Texan. Osweiler was in for three series. He completed 4 or 7 passes for 27 yards leading to 0 points on the scoreboard.
His longest completion was 12 yards and he was sacked once. Alarmists will be bashing his performance and talking about his $37 million contract. Realists will understand that there are many factors in play. First and foremost, this was the initial preseason contest. That means, many key players were missing, the 49ers weren’t game planned for, and the play calling was very vanilla.
Osweiler was under pressure on the majority of his drop backs. In one sense, that’s a good thing, so that he learns to make quick reads and get rid of the ball. On the other hand, it’s an ominous sign of an offensive line that really needs to get better. Last night’s line featured exactly one starter from a year ago.
Xavier Su’a-filo was the only returning starter. He was joined by Jeff Allen, Tony Bergstrom, Kendall Lamm, and Chris Clark. Ideally, the Texans starting line will eventually be Su’a-filo, Duane Brown, Jeff Allen, Nick Martin, and Derek Newton. Brown, Newton, and Martin are currently nursing various injuries. If Houston is to have any success this season, they will need to be healthy.
There really isn’t a lot to take away from Osweiler’s performance. I don’t put a lot of weight into these preseason games. I will, however, be more critical after the third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. That is typically when starters get the most time. Brock should play a full half, so we will get to see him actually get into the rhythm of the game.
As for the rest of the team:
- Run defense was poor, obviously missing the presence of J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing
- Stephen Anderson looks legit. He scored Houston’s first offensive touchdown on a 7-yd toss from Tom Savage in the third quarter. Anderson could very well be the pass-catching tight end the Texans have long been searching for.
- Kenny Hilliard ran the ball well, finishing with 40 yds. on 12 carries. He is slimmer, was quick to hit the hole, and ran hard. Coaches will have a difficult time when it comes to cutting RB’s.
- Special teams still look bad. Rookies Tyler Ervin and Wendell Williams both muffed punt returns. ST Coach Larry Izzo can’t be pleased.
- Outside linebacker Gerald Rivers flashed. The second-year man out of Ole Miss was a constant presence in the backfield. Rivers may not make the final roster, but he showed that he belongs.
- Backup quarterback Tom Savage acquitted himself nicely. Savage, who was on IR last season, looked every bit the part last night. He was 14-24 for 168 yds. and two touchdowns. He was poised, took a lot of heat, and made good decisions. If, God forbid, Osweiler goes down, Savage looks more than ready.
- Look out for Braxton Miller. Miller, a converted quarterback out of Ohio State, could be very special at the WR position. His athleticism is off the charts, and he showed it with this 24-yd. grab in the third quarter. He is going to add a new dimension to the offense.
- Christian Covington forced an early Carlos Hyde fumble, which was promptly scooped up and taken to the end zone by John Simon. Covington is an underrated member of the defensive line. Many have Devon Still penciled in at defensive end opposite Watt. Mr. Covington clearly is very much in the conversation.
Houston welcomes the Saints this week for joint practices before preseason game number two. All we can really hope for at this point, is improvement in all phases, and no injuries. The preseason can’t be over soon enough. Thanks for reading.