What to Watch: Atlanta Falcons Edition

The Houston Texans are heading into their second preseason game and looking to erase a bad performance from last week.

Secondary Play

The Texans have been working on refining their zone concepts for game day with which, as a group, they stumbled against the Arizona Cardinals. Secondary Coach John Butler and assistant secondary coach Anthony Midget have been pushing their players these past weeks to understand the technique to run the zone concepts more efficiently.

Throwing in some coverage breakdowns by the safeties against receivers in the slot, there was some serious concern on the lack of production from the back half of the defense. Getting them to clean it up will leave a much better feeling after what was shown last week.

Offense, Offense, Offense

The Texans totaled 172 total yards of offense and only 98 yards through the air. Any pulse from the Texans offense would be a good sign after what they put on display last week against the Cardinals. The timing of routes and the amount of errant passes was tough to watch at time. Maybe there will be more variety of personnel play to play given by Bill O’Brien to help the offense succeed.

Either way the Texans offense needs to score points and build off of what they did in the middle of the week against the Falcons in practice.

Players to Watch

Ryan Fitzpatrick

The starting quarterback of the Texans needs to put together a better performance than his two interception and 55 yard night against the Cardinals. Fitzpatrick needs to take a big step for the offense and instill some confidence that he can be adequate for the season. Taking care of the football is priority number one, but moving the offense through the air could be just as vital. Fitzpatrick has the most eyes on him to perform after his disappointing showing in the preseason opener.

The Three Safeties

D.J. Swearinger, Chris Clemons and Kendrick Lewis all need to produce better as a group. With bad angles in run support and coverage last week, the position became a question mark relatively early in the preseason. Covering seems to be the main struggle, especially receivers out of the slot position. With the NFL and the high number passes during a game, the safety position is becoming vital to the success of the defense. This trio has its work cut out for it with the likes of Roddy White, Harry Douglas and maybe Julio Jones headlining the Falcons offense.

A.J. Bouye

It looks like the second year cornerback has made the all-important move up the depth chart to the third cornerback for the Texans. He will be the boundary cornerback with Kareem Jackson moving to the slot cornerback when the defense goes to nickel and dime. He has a chance to solidify his spot as a key piece for the 2014 defense and he will continue that journey against the Falcons.

Xavier Su’a-Filo

Su’a-Filo will be moving to right guard to start with the first team offense and he will have an early test against Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson. The rookie still needs tighten up his pass protection but that will be a work in progress. Playing next to Chris Myers and Derek Newton will help with his transition to the first team during the game.

Whitney Mercilus

Mercilus needs to find himself and what made him successful as a pass rusher. The clock is ticking on the former first round pick and getting his confidence back that he once had is key. Getting locked up with offensive tackles in his pass rush is concerning and he is still trying to get understand how to set the edge consistently. Getting Mercilus back into his groove is important because Romeo Crennel wants to be able to depend on him to be part of the outside linebacker rotation.

Under the Radar

Andre Hal

The rookie defensive back has put together some solid work against the Falcons this past week. Now he has a chance to build on this on game day.

Marcus Williams

Another rookie defensive back that seemed to change after the pads went on during training camp. He has burst when he closes in on ball carrier in open space and is not afraid of contact.

Eddie Pleasant

Pleasant played with a purpose this week during camp and was playing physical with every Falcons player he could get his hands on during camp. Now it is time to see if it carries over to game day.

Ronnie Brown

It will be interesting to see how they use the veteran during the game. He will be used in pass protection but how soon will be what to watch.

State of the Texans Top Stories