Last Saturday night in Green Bay provided some level of football normalcy for Texans fans. Considering the vast array of 50 plus new players, the team looked well coached, disciplined and motivated. It’s a common mistake to take too much stock from pre-season performances. But there were some highlights, that warrant further exploration.
Does Mills Have Foundations of Something?
For a quarterback with less than 290 throws under his belt at Stanford, the pro learning curve was destined to be steep. But the Davis equipped himself well on Saturday, his 2nd NFL play however, was a sack, as Cole Tonner whiffed on a 2nd level block:
Mills dusted himself down and found some rhythm. His collegiate issues of missing the easy throws carried over, as he misplaced both screens and swing passes that were layups at the pro-level. For all his fixable issues, he showed command pre-snap, a decent semblance of reading pressures & solid footwork. His red zone efficiency, use of his eyes, identifying coverages and his varied release points off the football, will need to be cleared up.
The biggest questions for Mills to answer, will be can he show gradual improvement across the rest of the pre-season. The coaching staff should not hold back or even give any reps to Jeff Driskel who’s shown he provides limited value to this team. Giving the remainder of the reps, post Tyrod Taylors initial burst, will serve both Davis’ development and the teams understanding of what this year’s third-round-pick will be capable of. But rudimentary mistakes will need to be irradiated if he has a future in this league.
Scottie Phillips – Flashes Again
The level of competition is a constant caveat but the former Ole Miss Rebel continues to flash in a way that deserves closer inspection, ideally with starter type players. There appears to be a log-jam in making this roster at Tail-Back. But it’s young man’s position and Phillips has shown the signs of having potential as a spot filler, in the back-field for someone in this league.
It’s perhaps more of a question if the coaching staff are willing to side with youth, than if Scottie can keep taking the chances given to him. He’s showing he can run it, pass block and catch passes out of the back-filed on third down. His value extends beyond more than just this season, if Phillips can realise his clear potential.
Kamu G-Hill Adds Line Backer Depth
The core skills of reading the play, reacting and getting down-hill to the ball, is on full display in the pre-season, regardless of the competition. Those skills can translate regardless, when combined with the sheer athleticism that Hill showed on Saturday. He is circa 4th in-line to the three roles, in base formation. But Houston has long needed a rangy linebacker, who’s capable of covering ground both ways.
A number of plays showed why Hill was one of the earlier signings by Caserio in the off-season & there were clear signs are he could carve a role for himself, in sub-packages & on special teams.
Green Bay played very few players who will even make their roster, mostly 1st or 2nd year players with limited experience. The Texans conversely are comprised of steady experienced pro’s, so the gulf should have been there, it told us exactly what it should. What this Sunday’s first few series looks like, will provide a more in-depth peak at the 2021 Texans.
Rod, Crossen & Dunn Out
In the ever-evolving world of Texans roster management, special teamer and the fleetingly seen on defence, Kieon Crossen was traded to the New York Giants. The former 2019 trade acquisition from New England, netted the Texans 2023, 6th-round-pick. A admissible asset in the grand scale of things, arguably under valued considering his continued impact on special teams. But the move shows the faith placed in that position room, that remains one of the biggest question marks of this entire roster. Tremon Smith may well step into Kieon’s role & the duplicity of carrying both players was answered when another team offered some value, in a future asset for this re-building job ahead.
Rod Johnson barely would have had time, if at all, to get back in the building coming off the Covid list, prior to being told of his release. A vastly improved player, who filled in admirably for the 4 games that Tunsil missed last year at left tackle.
This may point to a decline in his training camp form. His lack of vaccination & therefore his ability to return quickly from close-contact may have deemed him un-reliable. The performance of Gareon Christian at left tackle in Green Bay may have shown a more-cost effective back-up option. His reported training camp performances had possibly seeded doubt and now the team have moved on.
Brandon Dunn, it seemed was given the benefit of the doubt by the coaching staff, to see if he could shake off his injury and lessened form of last year, to make this roster. The signing of Jaleel Johnson, was a direct replacement for PJ Hall. Johnson’s two fumble recoveries coupled with the performances of Vincent Taylor, it appeared Caserio has similar, if not more viable options and D-Tackle and has moved on, again, at a lower cap charge.
Inter-State rivalry, the inclusion of the Cowboys on Hard Knocks may dominate the narrative on Saturday, as the team travel to Arlington. This will be mostly where we see the most starters, at any point prior to week one & it will inevitably give us a truer understanding of this teams competitiveness, come real football.
Houston Texans vs Dallas Cowboys; AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at 7 p.m. CT