As time expired at NRG Stadium following the Texans 17-0 win over San Francisco, the Colts logo flashed on the videoboard hyping the opening day match-up. My blood started to heat up. And I was already pretty invigorated after watching Houston blank the 2021 NFC runners-up, capping a perfect 3-0 preseason.
Andre Ware and I discussed on the air what elements of these wins could carry over into the regular season. We agreed pass rush was one item. Houston racked up 14 sacks through the three preseason wins and made a point of spending a lot of time in the opposing backfield.
Generating turnovers is another transferable ability. The Texans already have a good track record in this department, having produced enough cough-ups to put them in the top third of the league in 2021. This August they tallied six takeaways in three games, a nice clip.
Perhaps the most encouraging development was a punishing ground game that saw Texans backs run 36 times for 156 yards, 4.3 yards per carry, vs. San Francisco. Rookie Dameon Pierce got the party started with six carries for 37 yards and a touchdown.
If you're not excited about seeing him the regular season, you need to rewatch games one and three. He's a hammer with speed and vision.
When Marlon Mack ran for the Colts I held my breath and prayed for defenders to make him rethink his career choice. It didn't work. Good thing he's here now. After he ran 10 times for 55 yards, it feels like the Texans have great options at running back and the ground game can springboard out of the league basement.
The passing game wasn't everything they wanted it to be but there were some good things, like Nico Collins drawing two pass interference penalties on the two Texans TD drives. Chris Moore caught a touchdown pass on a nice throw by Davis Mills on third and goal at the 16 after his O.P.I. pushed Houston back ten yards, wiping out a would-be TD pass to Collins. It's the second straight week Mills exited the game after throwing a TD.
Now comes cut-down time and the decisions are difficult and numerous. Some of them are what I like to call 'luxury problems,' like on the defensive line, where the Texans can't accommodate everyone but so many can play.
Nick Caserio has been clear that it's not just a 53-man roster. It's closer to 70 because of the practice squad. But there's no guarantee that an unprotected player will end up back in the building. There will also be trade discussions.
There's much to do in the next two weeks but time will fly and the Colts will be at NRG soon enough. Bring on the regular season!
Browse tickets for Texans-Colts season kickoff on September 11 at 12:00 PM.