August 18, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Trindon Holliday (16) returns a punt for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the 49ers at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Grading every position
The Texans remained undefeated during the preseason with a 20-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday, but obviously their record doesn't matter right now. What does matter is how they look against the other teams starters for the limited amount of time they're both in the game. Certain areas of the Texans game Saturday looked pretty good, but overall they didn't play as well as they did in the first week. That's not necessarily a problem considering they played a much better team in San Francisco over Carolina, but there are several things they need to work on before the New Orleans Saints game this Saturday.
The Texans starters on offense produced 10 points in one half of football against one of the best defenses in football, which sounds pretty good on the surface. The 49ers ranked 2nd in points allowed last season with 14.3 points per game, so 10 points in a half would be pretty good. However, most of the 49ers starters on defense had already left the game when Schaub threw the touchdown pass to Lestar Jean late in the 2nd quarter. While both teams starters were in the game, the Texans produced one field goal drive and could have put up another three points, but rookie kicker Randy Bullock missed the 52-yard kick. Outside of the scoring, Schaub looked to be mobile and accurate, Andre Johnson had a great leaping catch between two defenders for a 36-yard gain and both left the game healthy so that was encouraging.
Arian Foster still doesn't seem as explosive, though his final stat line looked fine with 10 carries for 46 yards (4.6 yards per carry). His final stat line was inflated though, if you take his longest carry for 24 yards off his line, then in his other 9 carries he had 22 yards (2.4 yards per carry). Getting slowed down by the 49ers isn't a shame, but he hasn't looked great so far this preseason. Overall the running game averaged 4.4 yards per rush, not a bad number but not a great one either. I don't think there's any problem with the running backs, more likely its the right side of the offensive line that still needs work. I thought Derek Newton played well and is the better run blocker of the two. However, Rashad Butler has looked better in pass protection; no way they would split snaps, it'll be hard choice for Kubiak at right tackle.
The starting defense of the Texans gave up three points to the 49ers starters, but could have given up more. The 49ers starting offense played two series against the Texans starting defense on Saturday, made a 50-yard field goal on the first drive and passed on a field goal attempt on the 2nd drive but didn't convert the 4th down conversion. It's also worth noting that San Francisco only got into field goal range on the 2nd drive because of a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty after an incomplete pass on 3rd and long. They continued to get pressure, with two sacks on the first drive, but didn't have the dominant performance they did against Carolina. The rush defense looked worse than last season (4.9 yards per carry Saturday), but they were without J.J. Watt and Shaun Cody, so I'm not that worried. In injury news, Brian Cushing left the game with sore ribs, but the team said he was done with his reps and it was just a precautionary measure. My guess is he'll be limited during practice this week but play most of the game on Saturday.
Special Teams: A
The kickers went 2/3 on the night with the lone miss coming on a 51 yard attempt from Randy Bullock. The kick had plenty of distance, but Bullock missed it wide right. Didn't look like a terrible kick, just needed to push it a little further left. Shanye Graham went 2/2 on kicks including a long of 49, but I still don't believe he's actually in a competition. I continue to believe that Graham is only here to fire up Bullock and make sure he works hard. I'm not sure he meant to, but Kubiak seemed to hint the same thing in his press conference yesterday saying, "Both kickers are looking good, but we're looking at the big picture with them. They're making it a tough decision." The use of the words "long-term" to me confirms what I've been thinking all along; Randy Bullock would have to be a train wreck not to win this job. He was the first kicker drafted this year and the first kicker ever drafted by the Texans; he's getting the job.
On Trindon Holiday, I said last week at this time that he needed another touchdown to make the team; he got it with an incredible 87-yard punt return. I thought he was going to let the punt go out of bounds or be downed at first when it bounced, but he picked it up, found a seem, and out ran everyone to the endzone. I still don't think it's a lock in the minds of Kubiak and the Texans, because Holiday can't play as a receiver and keeping him will mean cutting a more versatile player in favor of a 5-6 plays a game specialist. Most of the time, I wouldn't keep a player like him, but I think you have to consider it with what he's done so far. Likely that means Bryant Johnson who played with them last season will be cut, but he did nothing last year and if Holiday fails early, Johnson will probably still be available to pick back up.
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