NRG will host it’s first pre-season game since the visit of the Rams, August 30th 2019. A strange notion, with the impact of covid still a pertinent theme for teams as they make their first attempt to prepare for a 17-game season.
Did The Trip to Dallas Teach Us Anything?
The offence is starting to become a nagging concern, that will be hoping for greater production against Tampa, tomorrow night. In Dallas, they showed little reason to breed any confidence, as for three series, the Tyrod-lead starting unit almightily struggled. With the only notable omission Laremy at left-tackle, the team failed to move the chains barring a short-field, which was created by a defensive turnover. Going 0-10 on third downs, 131 yards through the air and only the feet of Jeff Driskel late padding of the 89 rush yards. We are still unclear on what this offence could be, if anything under Tim Kelly.
Mark Ingram was the lead-back in that scenario, with some relief from Phillip Lindsay. The use of the Tight-Ends, on the only offensive-6 of the day, showed that there appears to be a choice between Anthony Auclair as the 4th TE or keeping Paul Quessenberry as the old-school full-back. Now that ’19 3rd-round experiment Kahale Warring was released this week, joining the Patriots via waivers.
The lack of rush ability on offence for a team “committed” to running the ball, seems to be an imbalance they may be unable to correct. A mixture of scheme and talent deficiencies may be too great of a deficit, with the context of so many new players and limited padded practices to refine their ground attack. The adjustments to the incumbent interior offensive-lineman have added to the changes. Though, Charlie Heck seems to surprise everyone with his physical development.
Nico Collins was held-out due to a leg strain, the training-camp-star will be in much need of some live reps prior to the week one visit of Jacksonville. As it appears Nico will be relied upon early and often to be productive in the passing game.
His fellow rookie, Davis Mills, took a side step in his visible development curve. He was not helped by some questionable play from his team mates. However, there are too many fundamental gaps in his play at this stage, to feasibly rely upon him. For all his pretty looking throw’s there are missed protections, poor reads & questionable decision making. There’s a sizeable job for Pep Hamilton & Tim Kelly, to prepare Davis should he be required. But they will be without much opportunity, once the weekly cycle of game planning commences.
The defensive-front was the real stand out, beyond the bulging stat line, this unit has three core contributors in, Chuck’O, Jacob Martin, & Maliek Collins. And the defence looks far better placed to fundamentally stand-up opposing offences, with Lonnie Johnson making a splash pick-6 play as the highlight, among many turnover and negative yard plays.
Further encouragement must be taken due the clear depth, beyond the main contributors that will see time, in a rotation-heavy front. Vincent Taylor, Jaleel Johnson & to a lesser degree Roy Lopez and Ross Blacklock have rounded together an interior unit that is currently beyond expectations.
Whitney Mercilius & the disappointing Shaq Lawson’s respective contracts may well force a more capable edge-player out, but Greenard’s ankle injury may be timely in assisting that issue, for now. But Demarcus Walker shows interior & exterior flexibility, as well as the impressive Jordan Jenkins, is creating a difficult scenario for Caserio, when he cuts down to 53.
Trades, Transactions & Plenty More To Come
Caserio made another couple of trades this week. Sending a 7th round pick to Green Bay for Corner Ka’Dar Hollman, whilst attaining at 7th from Seattle for former 4th-rounder John Reid. It appears that they are looking for length and the prototypical 6ft-plus corners as they look for developmental players, who can add depth with a longer term view toward playing time.
They further added to that theory with the addition of Rasul Douglas, a former Philadelphia Eagles third-round-pick who’s had a difficult career to this point and wasn’t retained in Carolina last season.
Further Trades on The Horizon?
There are multiple candidates who could be trade-bait as the final roster is decided. A name to watch is tight-end Jordan Atkins – as the team have a ready made replacement in rookie Brevin Jordan. Atkins would be a loss but paying a F-type whilst resetting, before rebuilding, seems unlikely considering he’s set to turn 29.
David Johnson, is a name that could attract a late round swap or player deal, as his role appears to be limited to situational third downs. An out-ball that both Rex Burkhead or Scottie Phillips can supply, at a lower cap hit.
If teams are in need of rotational defensive players, anyone beyond Omenihu, Martin & Collins, could provide the Texans some future assets, whilst not weakening their current line up. Shaq Lawson seems the most likely but that group is so closely matched, the team will be willing to listen, should the value be there.
The Visit of The Reigning Champs
By all accounts both sides appear to have agreed on minimum first-half of “starters” to be out on the field. This will give the greatest glimpse of their abilities against last year’s best side.
Continuing their aggressive defensive style, attacking to the ball against Tom Brady and his first choice accessories, will be a temperature check on last weeks highlights. They will also have to show they can move the ball on offence, most notably on the ground.
Finding out their flaws now is more attractive than come the real action, but there are issues that aren’t going away. The collective offensive players & coaching need to find answers, as a semi-functional offence will be an essential ingredient, if this team is to be competitive.
Tampa @ Houston – Saturday, August 28, 2021, at 7 p.m. CT; NRG Stadium; ABC 13
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