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Vandermeer's View: Better days ahead

There will be better times ahead. There will be wins and celebrations and good feelings. But we're not there yet.

The new Texans began the preseason on the business end of a methodical 32-0 Arizona onslaught that included some of the nasty 2013 demons we were hoping to see exorcized. Bill O'Brien called it "unacceptable" and will have to find a way to get his offense functioning or the next game against Atlanta will feature similar results.

Thirteen penalties, two turnovers and a host of 3rd down conversions contributed to the long night. Offensive execution was severely lacking against a defense that was 6th in the NFL last year. The quarterbacks had trouble against a tough Arizona secondary and persistent pass rush.

Ryan Fitzpatrick never got into a rhythm. He was picked twice and harassed. O'Brien left him in for an entire half so he could get some work. Case Keenum was two for three with a makeshift line and Tom Savage got his first taste of action, tasting the turf after a sack for a safety ended Houston's final possession. Savage needs more reps and it will be interesting to see how O'Brien handles the quarterback pitch count from here.

There were some moments of note in the running game as Jonathan Grimes and Alfred Blue flashed.

The night began with Arizona pinned back after a J.J. Watt sack. But Carson Palmer did what all three Arizona quarterbacks did, making big third down throw to keep the drive alive.

There are still more questions than answers at this point. Did O'Brien not want to show his hand, watering down the attack? Does the defense really miss Johnathan Joseph and Brian Cushing that much?

The answer to the second one is a resounding "Yes." And, oh by the way, having a healthy Arian Foster and Andre Johnson won't hurt either.

But the penalty volume was crushing. O'Brien was clear that some types of infractions due to aggression are understandable. However, much of camp has focused on being mentally sharp and this team is acres away from where it needs to be.

It's preseason. A loss or a win means nothing. But handling situations with precision and avoiding unforced errors is a must if this squad is to bounce back from the abyss of 2013. Opening day is four weeks away. There's a long way to go and a short amount of time to get there.

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