The biggest problem for the Houston Texans last season? Their decimated quarterback situation no one saw coming. Things might not be much better for them in that aspect this season, but the presence of Jadeveon Clowney, much better prepared for the NFL than your average rookie is causing plenty of excitement, especially after a 32-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Clowney didn’t get to play alongside J.J. Watt as the two threaten to make the most feared pass rush duo in the NFL, but he did get two big hits behind the line of scrimmage. Once by tackling Antoine Smith when the running back barely put his hand on the ball to start his carry, and a second time as he sacked Matt Ryan for a seven yard loss. That wasn’t the only bad moment for a Falcons quarterback in the game.
Ryan himself completed only 3-of-7 passes for 37 yards, as the Falcons used four QBs, including T.J. Yates who played last season for the Texans. He was intercepted twice and also sacked once. The Falcons completed only 15-of-31 passes, with Sean Renfree throwing the only touchdown pass, the only score for the Falcons in the game. Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Brian Cushing didn’t play for the Texans.
It’s hard to say the quarterback situation for the Texans has improved. Ryan Fitzpatrick, a wild gunslinger who tends to throw too many interceptions is in the lead to start for them this season. He completed 9-of-12 for 87 yards and one touchdown, at least instilling some confidence as the Texans scored throw a rush, pass, interception return (Dre Hal) and one Jonathan Grimes punt return for a touchdown.
Grimes also did a good job running the ball, adding 42 yards on the ground with nine carries. Grimes had only 73 yards on 21 carries last season, but the Texans, who can’t rely on Foster to carry the load on his own, need someone like Grimes to do more than just excel in the return game. The Falcons enjoyed Antoine Smith who has looked very good in the preseason for them so far, including 27 yards in this game.
Two teams in a similar situation. They were supposed to be Super Bowl contenders last season but ended up crashing and burning early, falling quite far from making the playoffs. They haven’t changed much from last season, but enter this one a lot more cautiously – with some hope, but careful not to cultivate big expectations, knowing how painful the fall from previous heights might turn out to be.