March 21, 2018

The POGs: San Francisco Edition


RELIANT STADIUM – The second pre-season game featured two heavy weight playoff hopefuls in the Houston Texans and the San Francisco 49ers, last year’s NFC Championship finalist.  With the firey Jim Harbaugh at the 49ers helm, most fans were anticipating a physical, regular-season-style game – and they got it, but it was the 49ers who left the game banged up in a 20-9 loss.


As opposed to last week’s game, this week featured some clearer options for “Players of the Game”.  The Texans’ passing attack was led by Matt Schaub, who was seemingly able to move the ball against a rather stout defense.  During his limited playing time, Schaub was 11 for 14 for 128 yards and a touchdown.  He averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt and hit Andre Johson for a 43 yard gain as well as throwing a 9 yard touchdown pass to wideout Lestar Jean.  Schaub maintained control and composure while in the midst of a tenacious pass rush.


Offensive Player of the Game:

For these reasons, Schaub is my Offensive Player of the Game.  Honorable mentions, if there is such a thing in pre-season, go to Arian Foster, 46 yards on 10 carries – with a long burst of 24 yards.  Andre Johson, 2 catches for 49 yards in his 2012 debut – 43 yards coming on one catch in double coverage, and Lestar Jean, a team high 4 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown.  Jean leads all Texans’ receivers in two pre-season games with 6 receptions for 92 yards.


Defensive Player of the Game:

Once again the Texans’ defense played well as a unit, especially when they had to.  The 49ers offensive style of attack is more of a ‘ground and pound’ power running attack – which may explain why the 49ers were able to run the ball early.  The Texans’ defense is used to practicing against a zone blocking scheme and it appeared to take the unit some time to adjust.  However, once they did, they were able to make some crucial stops.


When the 49ers dropped back to pass, the Texans’ defensive line and outside linebackers provided the pressure.  The Texans sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith twice on the first drive, giving them 10 total sacks in two pre-season games.  Defensive end Tim Jamison, who started for injured JJ Watt, and Antonio Smith met in the 49ers backfield to share a sack and to force a 50 yard field goal.  Earlier in the drive, Jamison and outside linebacker Connor Barwin teamed up for a sack.


For his relentless pressure and stepping up as a starter, Tim Jamison is the Defensive Player of the Game.  Jamison finished with 1 total sack, 1 tackle and 3 assists.  Honorable Mentions would include Antonio Smith, Connor Barwin and Kareem Jackson for his tackling, once the 49ers’ backs broke into the secondary.


Player of the Game – Special Teams

This is rather obvious but for the second straight week, return specialist Trindon Holliday took a punt 87 yards for a touchdown.  To start the game, Holliday took a kickoff several yards deep past the 30 yard line setting up good field position for the offense.  He finished the game with 61 kickoff return yards on 2 attempts.


Last week, Holliday flashed his speed in a kickoff return, but as mentioned, it was his punt return abilities that inspired.  He finished the game with 4 punt returns for 106 yards.  The Texans’ almost have to keep Holliday as a return specialist, a la Mel Gray of the Detroit Lions back in the early 90’s.  In six seasons with the Lions (1989-94), Gray played in 84 games and returned 216 kickoffs for 5,478 yards, a 25.4 average, and registered 5 touchdowns.  He also returned 132 punts for 1,427 yards, a 10.8 average, and had 2 touchdowns.


Could Holliday be the Texans’ version of “Mel Gray”?  Who knows, but getting 7 touchdowns from Holliday this year would almost assure the Texans another trip to the playoffs.


Who are your Players of the Game?





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