Re-watching the First Half of the Texans vs. Saints Preseason Game

By Lance Zierlein
August 27, 2013

We hope you saved the Texans and Saints preseason matchup on your DVR because Lance Zierlein has notes on the first half and wants to re-watch it with you.

First Quarter

Offense

2nd and 2: 14:18

Out of the shotgun, Matt Schaub looks left at Owen Daniels who is heading towards the flat and sees that LB isn't following Daniels in man coverage but is instead in zone coverage. Schaub turns his attention to Andre Johnson who is open in the middle of the field and in the middle of the zone coverage. Every pass play has contingencies for zone and man coverage and this is a great example of a well-designed and executed pass play. TE Garrett Graham runs a short route on the left will draw the ILB towards him and WR Keyshawn Martin runs a 5 yard comeback that is designed to get the immediate attention of the other ILB. Thanks to the design of the play and the ILBs being stretched in coverage, a hole is created in the middle of the defense for Schaub to throw through which he does on this completion to Andre Johnson for 22 yards.

1st and 10: 13:36 - Ryan Griffin sits down in pass protection and battles Akiem Hicks (#76) even though Hicks probably should have kept his eyes on the QB and shed the TE earlier rather than just bull-rushing.

2nd and 10: 13:20 - Poor job by Ben Jones of getting a good chip on DT and then falling before getting to ILB on 2nd level.

Defense

3rd and 6: 11:08

Here is a great example of why it is so important for the Texans to disrupt the pocket from the perimeters and not just at J.J. Watt's spot. Watch as LT Charles Brown does a decent job of getting his initial block on Willie Jefferson (#63), but D.J. Swearinger gets in Drew Brees' face on a blitz and Brees has to move back and out of the pocket which put Brees in the rush path of Jefferson who almost gets to him before Brees releases the ball. If Brees had been able to stay in the pocket, Brown could have ridden Jefferson around the arc, but instead, Swearinger forced Brees into harms way.

Offense

1st and 10: 10:39

At first glance, this looks like a case of LG Ben Jones not getting off of his initial block and up on the ILB and maybe that is what happened. However, the way that Jones tried to disengage from the DE who was part of his initial double team, it makes me believe that the DE may have been holding Jones which is a common trick used by 3-4 defensive linemen against zone scheme linemen. If you can grab a guard and keep him from climbing to the 2nd level, your LBs will remain clean to flow to the ball which is exactly what happened here.

2nd and 8: 10:04

Here is an outside zone play towards the left and the Texans utilize a small schematic wrinkle here. On this play, the stong-side TE, Garrett Graham, blocks down on the DE and the LT and LG basically pull into space and look for their assignments. Duane Brown gets the blitzing safety off the edge blocked while Ben Jones locks up the ILB. While Ben Tate took the wide track and didn't look for the cutback lanes, take a look at just how good the backside combination of Chris Myers, Brandon Brooks and Ben Tate do on this play. Myers gets across the face of the NT and beats the ILB to 2nd level spot in order to seal him off. Brandon Brooks moves quickly to get into position to cut the NT and executes the cut block perfectly. Derek Newton gets off the line of scrimmage quickly and moves his feet to wall off safety Roman Harper. The play-side WRs engaged their men and did a good job of not letting their defenders get off the block quickly. This was also a really poor job by the Saints of beating the Texans to spots.

2nd and 2: 8:41

Classic case of RG Brandon Brooks lowering his head and not keeping his head and eyes up on his target (Akiem Hicks) as he whiffs on his block. If he gets his block, this play goes for a minimum of 4 yards.

2nd and 2: 7:23

Brandon Brooks makes up for his whiffed block by getting Hick secured with his right forearm and then coming off of Hicks to bury the ILB who tries to dart into the backfield.

2nd and goal: 6:04

This play is basically unstoppable in man coverage as long as the Owen Daniels doesn't get held off the line of scrimmage (which he doesn't on this pass). Andre Johnson comes darting in to pull the CB with him and clear out the flat for FB Greg Jones. The play-action is run towards Curtis Lofton (#50) who is also responsible for coverage on Daniels and the play-action towards him creates a brief hesitation in coverage that allows Schaub to throw over the top of Lofton for what should have been a TD.

3rd and goal: 5:56

LG Ben Jones shows you what leverage is all about on this play as he fires out with a low pad level and rolls his hips under him to move Akiem Hicks off the ball and create a running lane on this TD (even though Ben Tate doesn't really see the lane and just ducks his head and bulls in).

Defense

1st and 10: 5:05

You want to know why I was so excited to see Joe Mays picked up by the Texans? Watch this play. Bradie James spent way too much time sitting on the 2nd level waiting to catch blockers last year. Darryl Sharpton is aggressive, but tends to run himself out of too many plays. This is a simple lead play with the FB trying to deliver an isolation block on Mays in the hole and instead of blocking Mays, he gets blown to smithereens and knocked on his butt. Unfortunately, the Texans gave up 7 yards on the play.

Offense

1st and 10: 2:38

I'll guarantee you that Gary Kubiak will have some choice words for Keyshawn Martin on this end-around. While the Saints safeties do a good job of staying home and flowing to the ball, Martin still left yards on the field on this play. Graham cuts Will Smith (#91) and gets him down briefly, but Martin starts to dance when he sees Saints closing in on him. On this play, Martin has to just turn it up and finish the run for as many yards as possible. Instead of gaining 2 yards, he could have gained 3 or even 4. It may not seem like a big deal, but Martin has to get the most out of his touches and he'll do that by accelerating North/South and not by slowing down.

1st and 10: 1:20

Here is another Texans standard in the passing game. When the Texans run play-actions, there is a purpose to how they run their fakes. Gary Kubiak loves to run the play-fake AT the defender who he hopes to put into a problematic spot in coverage. By freezing the defender for a second, he opens up the pass play. This play is designed for Owen Daniels. The twin WR set of Johnson and Jean clear out the left side of the field for OD on this play. Andre fakes the slant and pivots out towards the sideline while Jean gets up the field via the seam and Daniels drags underneath Jean in open space with Roman Harper trailing behind.

Second Quarter

Offense

2nd and 10: 14:54

This is an interesting run by Ben Tate because I'm curious about whether or not he read this zone play the same way that Arian Foster might have. Tate kept the track outside even tough LG David Quessenberry didn't get across the face of the DT. Instead, Quessenberry was riding his man outside which is fine. There were some successful backside cuts and it seems as though Tate just had no vision for what was happening on the backside. I'm not saying that Tate made a bad read necessarily because I don't know. I do know that I've seen Arian Foster cut it back sharply on plays like that in the past and I think Tate has very, very average field vision in general.

Defense

1st and 10: 13:40

I'm not sure what Joe Mays is looking at here with the way he dropped into coverage on the opposite side of where the screen went. I didn't see any keys that should have lead him to drop into that particular area.

2nd and 10: 12:15

Joe Mays spends too much time trying to strip the ball rather than make the tackle. Shiloh Keo was Shiloh Keo. That's all.

Offense

3rd and 6: 10:28

Double move by Andre Johnson beats Keenan Lewis and Lewis starts blaming the safety? Huh?

1st and 10: 10:00

A NT should never split the C/G double team that easily in pass protection. That is not good.

Defense

1st and 10: 7:49 - This is just a text book job by Jared Crick of getting his arms extended and into the guard first, moving his feet to flow with the play and then steering the guard back inside so that he can shuck and chase Mark Ingram towards the sideline. Crick isn't the pass rusher that Antonio Smith is, but he's solid against the run.

Offense

2nd and 10: :31

While this ended up being a completed pass on a lob to Andre Johnson, I'm not sure Schaub made the right decision here. The slot CB blitzes and Keyshawn Martin releases as the hot receiver and immediately looks for the ball. It appears as though Schaub doesn't even notice him. Now one of two things is at play here. Either Schaub didn't notice Martin as the wide-open hot, or he thought his oline was in position to block it up and he figured he had time to take a shot down the field.

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