March 21, 2018

The Rundown: Vikings Edition

The first preseason game ended in a 27-13 win for the Houston Texans over the Minnesota Vikings. The Texans did not play 20 of their players and were missing some key starters on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Plenty of positives came out of the game and it was a good step to see the Texans without plenty of their core players on the field.



The Rundown

– The Houston Texans’ quarterbacks looked good as a group.  Combined, they went 31/44 for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns. Matt Schaub was a perfect 5 for 5 through the air in the short amount of time he was in the first quarter. T.J. Yates got off to a slow start but heated up late and finished 13/21 for 151 yards and a highlight touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins. This is the first considerable amount of football Yates has seen since last preseason, so it was good to see him get going in the offense. The big winner was Case Keenum who came out and made some big plays and really was impressive when he was on the move. Keenum ended his night 13/18 for 125 yards and a touchdown, but his numbers could have been better but his wide receivers had some drops and one would have been a touchdown.

– Right tackle Derek Newton looked good for his first real action since his knee issue from the offseason. He looks much more comfortable in the run game and he was opening up some running lanes for the running backs. With plenty of criticism with Newton and how he performed late last season, he looks like a better player but time will tell as we move on.

– Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had his rookie moments running routes short of the first down, tripping on a screen pass and dropping a pass he usually catches. After the drop, Hopkins showed what he has been doing at camp since he arrived when he went on a 9 route and snagged a ball from the hand of Yates on a 34-yard touchdown pass. Hopkins elevated over the defenders and high pointed the football for a great touchdown catch. Many of his veteran teammates who were not playing came to congratulate him after the catch.

– Rookie offensive lineman David Quessenberry looked like one of the better rookies of the night. He played left guard and left tackle and was impressive in the trenches and it was easy to see his understanding of the offense. He has the right skill set for this offense and had it on full display last night. He will be a key piece of the offense in the future.

– Both rookies Willie Jefferson and Justin Tuggle had nice debuts in the defense. Jefferson could be a good situational player early on and he showed he can get to the quarterback in a hurry. He covers ground so well and it was impressive to see him drop into coverage. Jefferson is the true definition of a “raw” player. Even with the little time that Jefferson has spent learning what the outside linebacker position asks for in this defense, he had a great start for his preseason.

Tuggle is a different linebacker than Jefferson and they compliment each other well, and Tuggle let the NFL bloodlines show last night. Tuggle has a natural feel on how to play defense and the one thing that he did well was “strike” opponents with a purpose. He stuck his nose into one ball carrier on a tackle and totally ran over a running back trying to pass protect against him. Like Jefferson, Tuggle could be a sleeper that could possibly sneak onto this team before the week one opener.

– Rookie mistakes will happen but tight end Ryan Griffin was solid in his pro debut. Griffin had 4 catches for 37 yards and showed he can block against the better competition. He got some time with the first team offense with Owen Daniels not playing. He is solidifying his future here as a tight end and with his ability could be a talented player.

Earl Mitchell was a one man wrecking crew at nose tackle. No one on the Vikings’ offensive line could stop the starter and he was making plays in the backfield. His stat line says it all with 4 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and a 1 quarterback hit all in less than a quarter of play. See Mitchell when he talked to us at camp. 

– Rookie cornerback A.J. Bouye had a strong game but it could have been even bigger if he would have finshed some plays. Bouye missed two interceptions and on one he just froze when it fell just out of his reach on a high pass. He was in position all night and he showed what made him successful at camp, being a technician in coverage. Bouye also had a nice play on special teams when he kept the ball from going into the endzone on a punt to down the Vikings inside the 10 yard line.

Red Flags for concern

Roc Carmichael had some issues in coverage, gave up a big reception and didn’t really look interested in tackling anyone. Carmichael needs to put this game behind him, especially with growing competition on this team pushing for his roster spot.

Lestar Jean

Lestar Jean

Lestar Jean had a touchdown catch but it did not cover up some big drops from him. With his big frame, he should be catching the ball away from his body, but he just doesn’t. Plenty of talk on what he should be but the truth is there has been four wide receivers drafted since his arrival three years ago.

Jeff Maehl had two passes his direction that ended up as two dropped touchdowns in consecutive plays. That was disappointing especially knowing that every chance he now gets is very important.  After three seasons here, it is time for him to put it together.

Eddie Pleasant had a disappointing day and this was despite an interception that was ripe for the pickings. He had a bad special teams penalty that cost 15 yards and a missed tackle on the long touchdown reception. The Texans need Pleasant to step up his play especially with Ed Reed not completely healthy at the moment.

Offensive lineman Cody White struggled on the inside with playing high and being pushed around by the Vikings defensive line. White has a chance to be a key backup for the season but he has to improve his technique especially against the bigger defensive linemen.


Zach Boren, #45

Zach Boren, #45

– Hard not to like what rookie fullback Zach Boren did yesterday as a lead blocker. He was laying some serious blocks on linebackers and even showed he can catch out of the backfield. His hard work during training camp paid off yesterday in his first game.

– The matchup for the third runningback has been set. Dennis Johnson and Cierre Wood both had plenty of time on the field last night. Both showed they can pass protect and they stuck blitzing linebackers before they got to the quarterbacks. Johnson has a great skill set but at times he gave up on his blocking too soon. As for Wood, his vision and knowledge of the zone scheme was evident last night when he planted and got downhill with the football.

– The Texans inside linebackers looked active last night. Darryl Sharpton and Joe Mays were solid together on the field. Mays took on blockers with a purpose and pulling guards and fullbacks were met immediately in the hole. Sharpton also played physical at the point of attack for the defense. Also, rookie Ja’Gared Davis and Mike Mohamed played solid inside the box and were in plenty of plays. Mohamed struggled to get sideline to sideline but he had a good feel on the inside taking on blockers and making plays.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter.  He is the Editor of State of the Texans.


7 Responses to “The Rundown: Vikings Edition”
  1. Louie Partain says:

    Another great read Patrick!… keep them coming!!!

  2. ben says:

    It really comes down to Jean or Posey once he gets healthy. Too much invested in Posey to keep Jean around. I’m guessing this might be a redshirt year for Bonner and he’s gonna mysteriously come down with some random lower leg injury before the season starts.

    QBerry was very impressive. Cody White is clearly behind him and Ben Jones for a swing job. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to see QBerry supplant Wade Smith at some point during the season.

    Surprised you didn’t mention how good Deji and Graham looked also at RB. They were both better than D. Johnson. It’s a shame we can only keep one of those guys.

    I don’t know about you but I’m getting tired of watching Kubiak’s slow moving, check-down passing game. While the rest of the NFL is trying to run more plays and score more our team is stuck in “playing not to lose” mode. Sure it works against lesser talented team but when it’s time to go against the big boys it’s a proven formula for losses.

    Our pass coverage was less than stellar however the pressure was relentless no matter which group was in the game.

    Bullock’s leg strength is much better this year. He wasn’t getting the ball to the end zone last year and with weak-legged Graham kicking off we were really exposed on kick coverage.

    Lastly, our depth looked much better than Minnesota’s which was refreshing. The Texans dominated the trenches on both sides of the ball which is something we rarely saw in past seasons.

    • Texan says:

      Deji and Graham may have “appeared” better than D. Johnson but the overall skill set of Johnson is much better, and he competed against the Vikings’ better players. Kubiak’s “slow moving, check down passing game; playing not to lose,” is actually his clock control offense. He works the offense for a lay up instead of blindly firing up three pointers – to use a basketball analogy. Percentages of successful execution are better in Kubiak’s clock control offense – or, “playing keep away from the other team’s offense mode.” Be patient, most NFL game’s are a chess match of strategy, analyzing strengths and weaknesses, exploiting said strengths and weaknesses, and making successful in-game adjustments.

      • ben says:

        I’d have to disagree on both counts here. Deji clearly outplayed Johnson who appears to be too impatient in a ZBS. Time will tell, but Deji currently has the upper hand.

        Kubiak’s offense is antiquated and he is too stubborn to change. He is also terrible at making “in-game adjustments”. If it isn’t on his IHOP menu he struggles managing games because his philosophy appears to be “take what the defense gives you” instead of aggressively running up a score and putting teams away. He wants to get a 4-point lead then run the clock out on the ground. He simply doesn’t coach or gameplan to overcome adversity so once one little thing gets off schedule it’s game over. That’s why Schaub throws for 4 yards on 3rd and 8. That’s why he runs draw plays on 3rd and 12. They play not to lose instead of aggressively putting away opponents.

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