Mr. Shush passes along an interesting breakdown of the Texans and Saints' running game from the Houston Chronicle's Lance Zierlein. As Mr. Shush notes:
The [Reggie] Bush play is particularly neat: Antonio Smith and Amobi Okoye are allowed to come into the backfield completely untouched so that the OL can block all three LBs from the get-go, and Bush is quick enough to get through the gap between them before they can meet at him. The [Arian] Foster play is a textbook zone-blocked run with cutback, out of a two tight end-two back set, with a TE motioning across to the left of the formation just before the snap to further sell that as the play side and get the defense flowing to produce the cutback lane.
August 22, 2010
Texans offensive and defensive breakdowns, plus film study
• Wade Smith really struggled at times to hold his ground as a guard. Strength at the point of attack is going to be an issue for him if he plays with a high pad level. On the flip side, he did a decent job on the move.
• Antoine Caldwell was solid in pass protection, but he was 0-3 in attempts that I counted where he tried to cut his man and open up a backside lane. Cut-blocking is much tougher than fans might realize and linemen really have to use the right technique to accomplish it.
• Arian Foster had a fumble, but it came while he was trying to move the ball from one side of his body to the other while trying to avoid a tackler in the backfield so I don't have a huge problem with that. What I did like was how aggressively he was hitting it up the field. Below, you will see a video with explanation of why Foster is a perfect fit for the zone scheme.
• Mike Brisiel got some snaps at center and did okay - nothing special. The Texans plenty of players who can play guard/center on their roster so versatility won't be a huge issue. I'm not sure that Coach Kubiak saw anything definitive out on the field with Brisiel, Studdard, Caldwell and Wade Smith that would lead him to believe that one of them is a lock to start now.
• There really isn't anything to say about Trindon Holliday. The kid has shown some terrific flashes in the return game in camp, but he's nowhere near ready to be an NFL wide receiver. He had to have a big preseason as a returner to make the team and he hasn't even gotten out of the starting blocks. In a way, I feel badly for him because he is going to get cut knowing that he never really got much of a shot to show what he could do, but that was his own doing.
• I was very happy to see the Texans able to utilize Joel Dreesen in some of the same ways that they used Owen Daniels over the deep middle on play-action. Dreesen is known as more of a blocking tight end, but he's underrated as a pass catcher.
• Steve Slaton was very decisive on both of his kickoff reterns and got straight up the field with aggressiveness. Sometimes you worry about RBs as kick returners because they tend to dance a little too much compared to WRs, but both Slaton and Jeremiah Johnson looked good on the return game. The special teams unit did a very nice job of blocking it up on both big returns too.
• Neil Rackers hitting a field goal of over 50 yards was big since he didn't even attempt one last year and his leg strength might be a bit of a concern. Kris Brown knocked a 43 yarder right down the pipe as well. If all things are equal, Brown will win this job because he can get more distance on his kickoffs and Kubiak has seen Brown make plenty of clutch kicks during his career. Brown struggled last season, but it looks like he might be back to normal now.
• This was easily the most disappointing side of the ball in this game. The missed tackles were a big issue, but I honestly felt like the Texans looked as though they were just going through the motions with their front 7.
• We all saw Bernard Pollard isolated on Jeremy Shockey and pick up a pass interference call. To be honest, Pollard could have turned and located the ball and then sat in Shockey's lap and he wouldn't have gotten the flag. The problem for Pollard is that he just doesn't have very good cover skills (that isn't what he is) and teams around the league are going to try and find ways to isolate Pollard on their pass-catching tight ends as well so keep an eye on that during the season.
• I can't remember a game where both Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans had such a rough time, but I saw just that yesterday. Cushing made some big hits here and there, but both he and Ryans looked lost at times. I actually saw David Thomas block Cushing down the field on the screen pass that turned into a TD. That shouldn't happen.
• The defensive interior got it handed to them for the second year in a row against the Saints, but the combination of Jhari Evans and Carl Nicks is probably the most powerful guard combo in the league. I honestly don't believe that anyone has more power off the snap than Carl Nicks - and boy does Amobi Okoye know that. Okoye was consistently driven off the line of scrimmage except when he was able to get into a gap quickly, but he wasn't able to do anything with that penetration when he got it.
• Shawn Cody actually did a better job than I expected in taking on double teams, but he's not a natural NT and can only do so much. I did see Frank Okam show up a couple of times in the second half at NT including a play on the goal line where he submarined his man and helped to keep the RB from getting into the endzone.
• At the press conference this afternoon, I am going to ask Coach Kubiak point blank if Earl Mitchell is going to start getting snaps with the starters this preseason. While he still needs to make more plays, his motor and technique are better than Okoye's and he never quits on a play. Never. I really, really like what I'm seeing from Mitchell in terms of his ability to utilize his hands and hold his ground relative to his size. He always fighting to disengage and he's quick off the snap. What he lacks right now is an ability to disrupt more consistently but that will come as long as the motor stays revved.
• On a positive note, I saw some things from Connor Barwin that I liked including an ability to change directions quickly and close ground quickly on the QB outside the pocket. Yeah, I'm kind of reaching right now, I know.
• After a bad first half of tackling, we saw tacking improve in the secondary with McManis, Troy Nolan and Dominique Barber all making good open-field tackles in the second half. I'm turning into a fan of Nolan and McManis is a speed demon on special teams as he is consistently the first one down the field on kick coverage. McManis will probably make the team. Is Jacques Reeves in trouble?
• Perfectly designed play for Reggie Bush
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