Houston Texans Vs Dallas Cowboys: Texans Top and Bottom Five Performers
The Houston Texans needed their stars to shine against the Dallas Cowboys during their third preseason game on Saturday night at Reliant Stadium. The Texans came through with their first win of the preseason in a 23-7 victory over the Cowboys.
During the first quarter the Texans defense held the Cowboys to a total of -1 yards. Outstanding!
However with every step forward there are always steps back. Some good news and bad news, one would say.
The Texans were fired up while the Cowboys looked disillusioned. Neither team excelled in the red zone, as well as both were plagued by penalties at the worst possible times.
Seeing how this is really just a scrimmage, we need to look at the individual players efforts and evaluate how their performances will affect the outcome of the regular season.
Here is a look at the top five Texans performers in the game, and on the other hand the bottom five performers in the game and why.
Foster’s for Real
Second-year undrafted free agent from Tennessee Arian Foster has proven in this preseason to be an NFL quality running back.
With every snap of the ball he asserts himself deeper into the conversation. Lately he has even been mentioned in fantasy draft articles as a solid second-round pick.
Foster’s running style is like liquid running down a hill. He does not seem to explode out of the back field, but just kind of effortlessly rolls past the line for consistent gains. He might not be the kind of back that can bust loose for long touchdowns, but every time he touches the ball he will get at least four yards.
Against the Cowboys on Saturday night, Foster was perfect. He ran the ball for 110 yards and was able to squeak out an additional 16 yards receiving, giving him a team high 126 total yards from scrimmage.
Foster is becoming a more complete back, his size, running, catching, and pass protection is all on point. It appears for now that he will finally be the running back this franchise has been looking for the last four years.
Pollard the Playmaker
Fourth-year strong safety picked up by the Texans off the streets last season Bernard Pollard continues to lead by example.
During the Saturday's preseason game Pollard lead the Texans in tackles with six solo tackles, and one assist.
He caused the only interception of the game by deflecting a pass from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into the waiting arms of rookie corner Kareem Jackson. This was a play in the red zone while the Cowboys threatened to score.
Pollard is out tackling first round picks, superstars, and extremely high paid linemen, and linebackers. It would be no surprise if Pollard leads this team in tackles during the regular season, just as he did with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008.
Andre Johnson Is Always Open
Every week the Houston Texans face another opponent in the NFL, and every week that opponent must account for Andre Johnson. The opponent must plan for how they are going to address what is likely the best receiver in the league.
Still he gets open.
On his first reception of the game he dragged Dallas corner back Terence Newman five yards while the corner clutched the back of Johnson’s jersey. It was like watching a snowmobile pull a kid who fell off his sled, but continued to hold the rope for dear life.
Johnson led the game with seven catches for 79 total yards, and if not for a couple of errant throws would have gone over 100 yards.
Glover Quin Has Yet To Be Scored On
Second-year corner out of New Mexico Glover Quin will be mentioned in the conversation of top corners in the league before the 2010 season ends.
He has yet to be scored on during any NFL game he has played in. His containment on run plays is solid, and if a receiver happens to beat him deep Quin will hold him up just long enough for him to miss the route.
Just ask Cowboys receiver Roy Williams who drew two holding penalties from Quin in one series. Even then the Cowboys did not score.
As Quin continues to mature and grow in confidence, his game will continue to elevate him up the list of top corners in this league.
Jacoby Jones Is Legitimate
Watching third-year wide receiver/punt returner Jacoby Jones when he is on the field in a game is like watching a tiger pace in a cage. It seems that at any moment he is going to explode with all the energy he is containing between plays.
Once the ball is snapped the tiger is loose. Jones caught five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown during Saturday’s preseason game against the Cowboys. This was only second to Andre Johnson, and his longest reception was six yards longer then Johnson’s.
It’s not just the numbers with Jones, it’s the acrobatics. He is capable of catching balls other receivers would not even dream of pulling in.
The receiver on this team we should be comparing Jones to is starting wide receiver Kevin Walters. Walters an eighth year veteran has to be looking over his shoulder at Jones.
Expect to see Jacoby Jones on the field more and more during the regular season as Kubiak releases the tiger more each week.
Cushing’s Suspension Started Early?
And now, for the other shoe to drop.
Where was outstanding strong side linebacker Brian Cushing during the game on Saturday? Did his suspension already start? Was he just getting us ready for the first four games he would not even be allowed on the premises?
Matter of fact where has Cushing been all preseason. Understanding that he must be experiencing some strange side effects to working out too much, this team needs him to be the Cushing of 2009.
During the game on Saturday Cushing had two tackles and two assists, this is not what Texans fans have grown to expect from the 2009 defensive rookie of the year. He led the team in tackles for the entire 2009 season and so for this preseason he has come in tied at sixth amongst the starters.
Sophomore linebacker Brian Cushing results are going to slump already due to his four game suspension. If his on the field productivity dramatically declines as well it is sure to raise some interesting questions about the reasons.
Third-year running back Steve Slaton from West Virginia was in the game for a few plays, and then just seemed to vanish from the sideline. We know now that he was affected by a toe strain, and will probably not play against Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week end either.
While Slaton was in the game against the Cowboys on Saturday he sold a fake stretch play run to the left side so well, that it opened up a seemingly easy touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. He only ran the ball twice for a total of six yards.
The injury is not his fault, so that is not the reason for the disappointment. The reason is everyone wanted to see him return kicks again. Knowing now it was out of his control does not make it any easier swallow.
Slaton needs to stay healthy this year, because he truly is a threat in the open field, and one of the few Texans capable of breaking loose for a big one.
Schaub’s Timing Tweaked
Seven-year veteran and Pro Bowl MVP Matt Schaub lead the league in passing yards in the 2009 season. His rating over the year was nearly flawless, and is on the bubble of being mentioned in conversations as one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.
However on Saturday, his timing was off. He seemed to be out of sync with his receivers several times during the game including several attempts in the red zone. At one point Andre Johnson looked at him palms out as if to say, “What was that?”
Schaub only completed 18 if his 29 attempts and the missed connections were not due to receiver drops.
If not for the highly productive rushing attack, this game could have been lop sided the other way.
For this team to make it to the playoffs in 2010 Schaub is going to have to get back in sync with his receivers, stay upright, and become the elite quarterback Texans fans believe he can be.
Earl Mitchell’s Push
Rookie third round pick, and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell has been the subject of much conversation since OTAs began.
Mitchell was slated to push Amobi Okoye for the starting spot, and his “motor” was emphasized by coaches and media alike. He was sure to shine, and be an outstanding tackle in pass rush situations.
Well so far in the preseason the Texans have played three games, and Mitchell has spent plenty of time on the field. As of now he has only accounted for one tackle, and that was against New Orleans when the Texans spent the entire game on defense.
Earl Mitchell needed to make an impact during the preseason to establish himself as a solid starter in this league. He has not stuck out as a game changer as of yet.
Look for Mitchell to get plenty of snaps against Tampa Bay this weekend, and hope he makes his presence known. This team cannot afford another high draft pick in the defensive tackle spot, which cannot be productive at this level.
Chris Henry on Bubble
Third-year running back from Arizona Chris Henry could find himself replaced on this roster before it is all said and done.
All throughout training camp the Texans have been high on the work effort and productivity of running back Chris Henry, however as soon as he steps on the field during a game he seems to fall apart.
During the game on Saturday Henry rushed twice for a whopping two yards. That is not enough results to be one of the only four backs on this roster. If he makes it through the first cuts before the game in Tampa this weekend, look for him to get lots of opportunities with Steve Slaton, and Arian Foster sitting out.
Henry needs to prove he is capable of translating his practice effort to the real thing to make this roster in 2010.
Upside Honorable Mention
Here are a few individuals that deserve a shout out after the game against the cowboys on Saturday.
Weak side linebacker and fourth year veteran out of Kansas State Zac Diles seems to get lost in the crowed of fellow linebackers Brian Cushing, and of DeMeco Ryans. However in the Texans' third preseason game, Diles came in second for team tackles tied with corner Glover Quin amassing four solo tackles.
Fifth-year tight end from Colorado State Joel Dreessen caught only one pass against the Cowboys on Saterday for eight yards, but he was unbelievable in the running game. He sealed off the defensive end or linebacker every time we ran the ball. If not for Dreessen’s effort the running game would have suffered. Maybe he should change his name to Joel Beasten, because that is how he played on Saturday.
Sophomore not expected to slump free safety Troy Nolan had another fantastic game. He did not see that much time on the field this week, however when he was there he was solid. He only accounted for one tackle, but there was a play across the middle where he leveled the Cowboy’s receiver knocking the ball loose.
Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye entering into his fourth season needs to break out in 2010. Against the Cowboys he did. He had one tackle, one assist, and a sack up the middle. The numbers don’t look great, but his presence was felt. We need to see more of this from Okoye as the regular season commences.
Finally sophomore running back Jeremiah Johnson ran like a man on fire. He was quick allusive, and pulled out the longest run of the day at 27 yards. He toted the ball nine times for a total of 53 yards, and really showed his heart.