Mario Williams (Getty Images)
The preseason isn’t always indicative of what a team is capable of, but Houston’s lackluster run defense against New Orleans was anything but inspiring.
Scores in the NFL preseason mean very little, as teams are more concerned with the way individual players play in terms of evaluating to put together the best possible 53-man roster. Even though the score of Saturday night's 38-14 trouncing by the New Orleans Saints won't count for much, the way the Texans played defense is a certain concern.
The New Orleans Saints are known for their great passing attack led by Drew Brees, but they didn't use much of that aerial attack to score at will against the Texans, as they ran for 173 yards on just 27 carries (6.4 ypc), including three touchdowns.
"I was disappointed in our overall effort, as I told you all last night," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "New Orleans was much more physical than we were as a football team in all three phases. That was disappointing for me. We didn't stop the run and turned the ball over and those two things get you beat in this league week in and week out."
Former Texans castoff running back Mike Bell did much of the damage for New Orleans, as he gained 100 yards on just 10 carries, and looked like the second-coming of Earl Campbell instead of just an average back who couldn't earn a spot on a Texans roster which appears pretty mediocre in the backfield once you get past starter Steve Slaton.
Kubiak was quick to praise his former back.
"I think he had 10 carries for 100 yards. He passed through here last year and he got hurt I think the first or second practice with us but he did that in Denver too. He's played some really good football and he's been able to stay healthy. He's a fine player and obviously very successful against us tonight."
To put it simply, the Texans didn't tackle particularly well, and their defensive line was dominated by the Saints offensive line, who aren't exactly known as maulers in the running game.
"We just have to look into the mirror and realize we didn't play our game, we didn't play Texan defense," Texans outside linebacker Xavier Adibi said following the game. "We just have to come in Monday and get everything correct."
The good news for Houston is that Saturday's game is just an exhibition, and they can use it as a learning experience. However, if this is a sign of things to come then the Texans play in the wrong division to not be able to stop the run.
The 2009 AFC South champion Tennessee Titans have one of the most fierce running game's in the NFL, and their tandem of Chris Johnson and Lendale White can make any defense look downright silly. The Indianapolis Colts are expected to run the football much more this season and they have invested two first-round picks on running backs Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown. All the Jacksonville Jaguars do well on offense is run the football, and they have one of the most dynamic backs in the league in Maurice Jones-Drew.
Simply put, the Texans must do a better job stopping the run or else 2009 could be a very long season and much of the coaching staff could be updating their resumes.