Improved Texan Defense? Houston still has a long way to go
–It would be hard to deny the impact that new Houston Texans defensive coordinator Lovie Smith has had on his unit. He’s the takeaway preacher, and that has been Houston’s strength during the offseason.
Last year, in a 16-game season, the Texans recorded a total of nine takeaways. In three preseason games, they recorded 10.
Of course, the context plays a role here. Houston didn’t force Aaron Rodgers to grope at Green Bay. Dak Prescott was not the Dallas QB throwing three interceptions at AT&T Stadium.
What about Tom Brady? Outside of opening practice, he showed fans at NRG Stadium why he’s the GOAT and more. It was the start of what would be a 23-16 victory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final dress rehearsal before the start of a new season.
So yes, the Houston defense still has some work to do before Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars arrive on September 12.
The Buccaneers offense that beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in February in the Super Bowl struggled to start the festivities on Saturday. Wide receiver Antonio Brown has been credited with a false start. Running back Ronald Jones was stuck behind the line of scrimmage or a loss.
Meanwhile, Brady looked into the distance. He looked like a 44 year old man. Two terrible incompleteness led to a smile on Smith’s face.
It would wear off as quickly as the scoreless game.
Brady’s second practice was neat. He landed a perfect 6 of 6 pass for 91 yards, connecting with Pro Bowl target Chris Godwin for a 24 yard touchdown.
The next trip? Same result.
Brady found Godwin for a 32-yard pickup before back-to-back completions at Brown for more than 10 yards. After eight games and 93 yards, Jones entered the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown.
Brady made it look easy against the Texans’ defense. Then again, Houston isn’t preparing to play the seven-time Super Bowl winner every Sunday afternoon. Instead, they must prepare for Lawrence, Baker Mayfield, and Sam Darnold in September.
Of course, these are sufficient challenges.
All shouldn’t be lost on the Texans’ defense as roster cuts loom. Defensive end Charles Omenihu recorded his third sack of the summer with a 10-yard loss to Buccaneers substitute QB Blaine Gabbert. Lineman Jacob Martin had his second sack in the third quarter.
Despite being the team’s last pick last April, rookie defensive tackle Roy Lopez continues to argue for more clichés. In the fourth quarter, he completed the preseason hat trick with his third sack. This goes along with seven presses in three weeks.
Again, context matters. Lopez’s sacks came against Kurt Benkert, Ben DiNucci and rookie Kyle Trask.
The defense of the Texans is the strength of the club. Maybe that, added to the hasty attack from a five-man squad, could bring success to NRG Stadium by the end of the season.