On Sunday, the Houston Texans routed the Indianapolis Colts at home to open the season. The popular reasoning as to why the game was so lopsided was due to the absence of Peyton Manning. Texans fans will say that it was due to great play.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Manning being out obviously completely changed the offensive dynamic for the Colts, but Manning doesn’t usually play defense or special teams, and the Colts lost in all three phases of the game.
I understand that the Texans were gifted turnovers and bad plays not normally afforded by a Manning-led offense, which helped the Texans offense, but it was obvious that Matt Schaub and company were in sync. Furthermore, this is a Texans team that normally lets bad teams compete with it. It was good to see a blowout.
There were highs and lows in the game, but clearly more positive than negative. Below are my reactions to what I saw during the contest.
—Mario Williams looked good, but let’s not anoint him yet. I hope whatever Colts coach decided to block him with Dallas Clark, TWICE, has been fired. Actually, no I don’t. Then again, we’d kill him if he was neutralized by a tight end, so kudos. If he does it against Jake Long, then anoint him.
—Antonio Smith is a beast. He was okay rushing of the edge in a four-man front, but he is a natural rushing from a three-man front where guards have no answer to his athleticism. It was fun watching Mario and him on the same side in a pick-your-poison issue for an offensive line.
—J.J. Watt was great at penetrating into the backfield, but missed a few tackles that would have been huge plays. Still, his zeal for this team winning and not just individual achievement is amazingly fun to watch. He will be a franchise player for the Texans.
—The two new additions in the secondary were largely untested, but still performed well when needed. Johnathan Joseph looked like he bit on a Pierre Garcon double move but otherwise was solid, and Danieal Manning was great. Manning looked really good blitzing, and was hit with a terrible defenseless receiver penalty.
—Speaking of Danieal Manning, there was a huge difference between what we saw in the preseason on kick and punt returns when players other than Manning and Jacoby Jones were handling those duties. Manning is an amazing athlete, and Jones' ability to stay in bounds was impressive.
—Don’t look now, but Brian Cushing quietly had a very good game. He’s getting his sea legs in this defense, and if he keeps improving, Reggie Herring and Wade Phillips will start involving him in more facets than just run support.
—It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The run defense may not have looked terrible, but that’s because the Colts are a terrible run team. There are serious issues that need to get fixed in the run aspect of the defense.
—As good as Matt Schaub looked, there were several throws on which he was off. Both interceptions were bad throws, as well as the overthrow when Owen Daniels was wide open in the end zone. They could have been more costly against a better team.
—Kevin Walter will be out 10 to 12 weeks with a shoulder injury. His blocking and sure hand will be missed, but he also is likely to be released next season or at least asked to take a pay cut, so this gives you a chance to see what the offense looks like without him.
—A big part of that new offensive look will be Jones. I like the play calls that Kubiak has designed to utilize his athleticism without making it too complex. Jones has shown time and again that this is the recipe for success with him, so why fight it.
—The player that I feel will actually be more integral to fill the void left by Walter will be Daniels. He had a quiet day today, but that may have been by design. There was only one play that I can remember in which OD was the initial read. After the Texans built such a large lead, why give away plays to future opponents?
—Ben Tate is showing why Steve Slaton is buried on the depth chart. Derrick Ward has surpassed all expectations since coming to Houston, but injuries are going to be frequent to running backs of his age. Tate will be a great change of pace to Arian Foster, but make no mistake, he is nowhere as good.
—The offensive line is as good as I have ever seen it in Houston. Duane Brown had a great game against Dwight Freeney, who usually gives him fits, and the run blocking was sensational given that most of the game the Colts knew it was coming. Eric Winston showed signs, however, that he can be a liability at times in pass protection.
- I have no doubt that Andre Johnson will be the first Texans Hall of Fame inductee. Seeing him healthy was a breath of fresh air, and that catch off the Gary Bracket deflection complete with concentration necessary to get both feet in was phenomenal.
Those were my biggest takes from the game, but do you think I missed any or were off in my interpretation? Let me know either in the comments or on Twitter (@JakeBRB).