The Rundown: Falcons vs. Texans

The Rundown: Falcons vs. Texans

The Houston Texans won their home pre-season opener 32 to 7 over the Atlanta Falcons.

-OLB Jadeveon Clowney continues to grow on the field as a player and is making his mark on the defense as a force to be reckoned with. Clowney has game changing ability and put that on display for the hometown fans with his two big plays against the Falcons.

HC Bill O’Brien and QB Coach George Godsey might have found the right buttons to make WR Keshawn Martin go within the offense. The wide receiver was used in space and had three carries for 26 yards on bubble screens on three consecutive plays, along with three receptions for 39 yards. His big gain came on a broken play where QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was flushed outside the pocket and Martin went playground, getting open for a 31 yard gain. He ended the night with 114 all purpose yards and it looks like his role with the team will be for him to be used in all facets of the game.

-RB Jonathan Grimes took another step to solidifying his spot on the 53 man roster. Grimes had 9 rushes for 42 yards and 3 receptions for 25 yards in the first half. He is looking like the primary backup for RB Arian Foster when the season arrives and, with Foster’s injury history, has the potential for more. A couple of areas on which Grimes needs to improve are his vision and patience with the ball in his hands. He is still missing some big holes the offensive line is creating and taking unnecessary punishment by not waiting for plays to develop.

-Special teams seem as though they are being coached the right way by Bob Ligashesky going into game days. The special teams unit excelled in coverage, blocking a field goal attempt as well as a punt, returning the punt for a touchdown. For a franchise that has struggled to adapt their special teams unit from year to year, Ligashesky’s influence seems to be working. Ligashesky spoke on the all hands on deck approach to special teams:

“We all work together. I meet with all the guys and they come to all the meetings. They know exactly what we are trying to accomplish, so they give really good feedback after the meeting on how it was presented and how we can improve. It helps us interact with more guys.”

-The quarterback situation went from cold in week one of the preseason to lukewarm against the Falcons. Ryan Fitzpatrick showed that he can create plays when needed to keep drives alive. He went 9 of 7 for 97 yards and a touchdown and on the final drive of the half, he went 5 of 6 for 64 yards with his lone touchdown going to WR DeVier Posey. Fitzpatrick stayed calm in that final drive this time overcoming the offense's slow start to the evening. If Fitzpatrick can continue to have success like he did against the Falcons with no turnovers, it could mean some positive steps for the offense and success for the season.

-The defense took a solid step in the right direction under defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. He kept the secondary out of man coverage and played cover 2 the majority of the game. His adjustments paid off and the Texans were delivering hits to incoming receivers but most importantly, saw plays develop in front of them enabling them to make plays on the football. The cornerbacks for the Texans, and every team in the league, will have to grow accustomed to the illegal contact that the NFL is cracking down on across the league.

-Justin Tuggle is getting the hang of the inside linebacker position and looks like he can be on his way to potentially starting next to Brian Cushing in week one of the regular season. He was asked to be more of a downhill player, attacking the line of scrimmage in the run game and his effort was apparent early in the week when the Falcons came to town for their two-day practice session. He displayed not only his speed inside the box but also how physical he can be with the fullback trying to lead block on him. Tuggle is turning into a starter in less than year and his development is a testament to the work he has put in over the offseason.

-The Texans defensive line and their ability to play a variety of ways may be the strength of the the defense. They play big to stop the run and rush the passer when asked to. Jerrell Powe, Ricardo Mathews and Jeoffrey Pagan have been solid additions to holdovers J.J. Watt, Jared Crick and Tim Jamsion. This group has not yet added Louis Nix to the rotation, which could be an even bigger boost for a position group that shows improvement week to week.

-Randy Bullock looks like he has taken a stranglehold of the kicking duties as Chris Boswell has been struggling, missing two extra points from the experimental 33 yards that the NFL is trying out for the first two preseason games. Bullock looks like his experience is taking over and he has kicked with confidence all preseason.

-Rookie WR Travis Labhart has been putting on a show in day-to-day practices and brought that to the game Saturday, getting rewarded for his efforts with three catches for 36 yards. His best catch of the night came off the arm of Case Keenum, whose pass was thrown as Labhart crossed the field, made the catch on the run and tapped two feet in bounds to complete the catch. All three of Labhart’s catches went for first downs and he appears to be starting to understand what it takes to be a slot wide receiver in the NFL.

-ILB Max Bullough had a good showing, recording three tackles, an interception, and a pass deflection. The rookie free agent has taken encouraging strides since arriving to Houston and seems like he is understanding his role within the defense.

-Rookie TE Anthony Denham probably had the play of the night (besides Clowney’s display,) when he blocked a punt early in the 4th quarter then had the lone block to let Jonathan Grimes score the touchdown on the loose ball. Denham shows how important it is for rookie free agents to make their mark on special teams and the talented tight end did just that on one play.

-Rookie CB Andre Hal had a nice overall day on special teams and in coverage for the Texans. He capped his night off with a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. He was worked some during the game when the Falcons double-moved him, almost resulting in a long touchdown, but right now, with Hal’s production, he could be the 4th best cornerback on the team right now.

-Josh Victorian and D.J. Swearinger were flagged for a "demonstration" penalty, this was the reason, Recommended Stories

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