The Los Angeles Rams are set for preseason game #3 with the Houston Texans coming to LA. As this is likely the only game that we’ll see much of the starting lineup, this is perhaps the only preseason action to get a glimpse of what’s to come in 2018.
To get a better understanding of what we’re facing, I linked up with Matt Weston from Battle Red Blog, the SB Nation community for Houston Texans fans.
How are things looking on offense? Obviously, the Deshaun Watson injury was a tragedy not just for yall but for fans of football in general...DESPITE CERTAIN ENTITIES HAVING CLAIMED WATSON YEARS AGO WHICH WE EXPECT TO SEE YOU IN COURT OVER, DEAR SIR! That aside, how is he coming back into the side? What if anything have you learned about the 2018 offense from the first two games?
On offense, the only thing that has stood out is Deshaun Watson’s accuracy. Whenever the offense moves from him to Joe Webb III or Brandon Weeden those throws that put the ball in the perfect spot no longer exist. Half the time I have no idea who the backups are trying to throw to. The one thing missing is any sort of creativity in offensive playcalling. Bill O’Brien claimed the Texans were going to change the offense even more this offseason. This hasn’t happened yet. It’s been a lot of quick passing and inside running. Hopefully it’s all to keep the truth hidden until the games actually matter.
How about on defense?
The defense is all about the pass rush. So far the key members of this pass rush haven’t played in the preseason. J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus, and Jadeveon Clowney’s tennis shoes are melted to the sideline. It’s possible Watt or Clowney could play on Saturday, but it’s not expected. There hasn’t been much regular season meaning here at all. In the preseason the defense has played well though. The second string defensive line has been raucous and rampant. That’s been enough to keep stagnant incomplete pass throwing offenses from doing much of anything.
Who from the depth should Rams fans be prepared for? Who has stepped up on both sides from the second and third strings and deep into the second halves of the preseason?
The big player to come out of this preseason is rookie outside linebacker Duke Ejiofor. He’s a light outside linebacker edge rusher with a great rip, and he can go outside in to counter offensive tackles. He should start in Saturday’s preseason game. Aside from that, there hasn’t been much here. Jordan Akins caught two touchdowns in the first preseason game. Troymain Pope has been hard to find running behind a stampede of offensive linemen in the screen game. Braxton Miller has been force fed. Ejiofor is the unknown man to watch in this Saturday’s game.
BONUS: It’s Year 5 for Bill O’Brien. Yall were first in the NFL in yards allowed in 2016. Yall were dead last in points allowed in 2017. Clearly, volatility is something you guys are going to have to deal with. But what is 2018 about for the Houston Texans? Is it about grooming Watson and keeping him healthy to lead this franchise for the next X years? Is it about getting to the playoffs and keeping O’Brien on the sidelines? Is it about J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney and...who? What are you guys expecting and preparing to see?
This season is an amalgamation of all those things. If the pass rush is healthy the Texans’ should have a top ten defense, it’s that horrifying. The trio of Watt, Mercilus, and Clowney can all generate 30 hurries, 15 quarterback hits, and ten sacks each. Throw in some creative Romeo Crennel blitzes, and some rotational garbage sacks, and you have one of the best pass rushes in football. The secondary won’t be good, but it doesn’t need to do anything other than hold on when you have a pass rush like that. Add this with a wonderkid quarterback, the first actual quarterback the Texans have had since the first half of 2012, and the Texans have the top end talent to with this division and compete for February’s big game. Despite Watson’s age, if this team is healthy, the time is now. If the team isn’t, and the pass rush goes down, Houston doesn’t have the secondary to make up for it, and the offense probably won’t be able to replicate last year’s 34 points a game with Watson healthy.
Thanks to Matt for the time.