Published: August 23rd, 2009 | Tags: Alex Gibbs, Andre Johnson, Connor Barwin, Drew Brees, Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans, Jabari Greer, Malcom Jenkins, Mario Williams, Matt Schaub, Mike Bell, New Orleans Saints, Rod Harper, Steve Slaton
After battling one another during a week-long training camp session in the hot Houston sun, the Texans and Saints showcased their top ranked offenses in Week 2 of preseason football Saturday night, a game the Saints won 38-14. Here are a few of my observations.
- Saints QB Drew Brees missed several days of practice against the Texans following the passing of his mother. Brees showed the ability to refocus and lead his team on a 10 play, 70-yard scoring drive. Brees is a bonafide candidate for league MVP. He and his coach, Sean Peyton, are a driving force that could lead the Saints to the best season in club history.
- There is a battle for the Saints No. 5 wide receiver spot, and one man has decided to step his game up to declare himself as the front runner for the job. WR Rod Harper’s 79-yard punt return for a touchdown was a thing of beauty. Harper’s sideline, tightrope run could make him the fifth and final receiver to join Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem.
- More than anything, the Saints have wanted to improve their inside power running game and now their prayers may have been answered. RBs Pierre Thomas and P.J Hill where very good late in the game and proved they could run by committee. However, veteran Mike Bell has proven to be the leader of the pack. He exploded for 100 yards on 10 carries, including a powerful 46yd run for a touchdown. In all, the Saints torched the Texans with 27 run plays for 173 yards. Only six teams ran the ball fewer times than the Saints did last season and they still finished with the league with the No. 1-ranked offense. With the arrival of a powerful rushing attack in 2009, the Saints could be ready to make a run to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.
- Another thing that stood out was the Saints nasty defense, which forced three more turnovers after earning three takeaways last week against Cincinnati. After replacing the recently waived Jason David, CB Jabari Greer snagged an athletic interception from QB Dan Orlovsky. However, the Saints first-round pick, CB Malcom Jenkins, allowed a 23-yard scoring strike from Orlovsky to WR Andre Davis and clearly needs more work before he becomes a major contributor.
- QB Matt Schaub, who led the Texans to a score on his first possession of the game, looked sharp and ready to roll. He hit the league’s most gifted receiver, Andre Johnson, four times for 38 yards in the first quarter before both stars rested while holding on to an early lead. Schaub and Johnson appear to be more than ready to launch an assault on NFL secondaries.
- Second-year RB Steve Slaton is now a tried and true veteran of Alex Gibbs’ one-cut, downhill running scheme. Slaton left the game in the first half with after six carries for 30 yards. The Texans could only manage 40 yards on 19 rushing attempts after his departure.
- Houston’s secondary play was poor at best. All three of the Saints QBs – Brees, Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington — completed well over 50 percent of their passes. Without franchise CB Dunta Robinson, the Texans allowed 22 completions for 247 passing yards. Their poor tackling also contributed greatly to the Saints enormous rushing totals.
- Texans DE Mario Williams is ready to launch his career to an All-Pro level. His 30.5 career sacks are a testament to his already dominating presence. His early pressure on Saints quarterbacks was constant and perpetually disruptive. Williams now has a teammate who is ready to serve as the perfect bookend in rookie DE Connor Barwin, who had a sack for the second consecutive week. The second-round pick from Cincinnati has a wicked spin move that has caught not only the eye of his coaches, but his opponents as well. Williams and Barwin could easily racked up a combined total of more than 20 sacks between them. In fact, count on it.