What to Watch for This Weekend Against Houston
With one preseason game in the books, the Rams head into this weekend looking to keep their meaningless undefeated record unblemished by securing a victory against a Houston Texans team that looks like itís seen a number of improvements.
Youíre not telling me a game against the Houston Texans is going to be hard, are you Nick?
Well, loyal reader, I certainly donít believe itís going to be a pushover. Citizens of Houston have been waiting season after season for their Texans to be competitive, and with new head coach Gary Kubiak behind the wheel, this could be the year the Texans start to take a stride in the right direction.
But letís face it Ė this isnít a must win game for either franchise. Like every game in the preseason, the goal of this contest is to get off the field as healthy as possible. Weíll likely see more of the starting unit than we did in Week One, but I would be shocked if they lasted through one quarter of play.
However, with all that said, believe it or not, this is a game to watch with some interesting questions that will be answered.
1) Will Orlando Pace play? The big man has been sidelined with a minor knee and ankle injury which wonít develop into anything seriousÖ as long as he doesnít force it to. Itís my opinion that, if Pace is anything less than 100% come Saturday, he sit firmly on the bench and watch this game as a spectator. Pace is perhaps the one consistent cornerstone of this offensive line, and the Rams absolutely must have him through the season if they expect to be competitive on offense and keep their starting quarterback upright and healthy.
2) Mario Williams. The Texans passed on Reggie Bush this year to take monster defensive end Mario Williams, and still havenít seen the last of the criticism for it. It doesnít help matters that Williams was less than spectacular in his first showing against the Chiefs, where Kyle Turley of all people did a solid job keeping Williams away from the play. That being said, Williams now has a chip on his shoulder, and will likely be gunning for the Ramsí left tackle. If thatís Pace, even at less than 100%, Iím not worried. If Mario thought Kyle Turleyís welcome to the NFL was rough, then the Big O will show him what going against a dominant tackle is really like. However, if itís Todd Steussie, the projected back-up left tackle, then thereís some cause for alarm. Steussie will really be thrown in the fire if, in his first starting preseason action with the Rams, heís asked to take on someone with the athletic ability of Mario Williams. If Steussie starts, weíll know very quickly how good the left tackle depth really is.
3) Texans run versus Rams run defense. The Houston Texans, without starter Dominick Davis, racked up 173 yards on a Chiefs defense that for years has been trying to improve to catch up with their offense. Emerging from the pack of back-up Texan running backs was rookie Wali Lundy, a sixth round pick out of Virginia who seemingly does everything well but nothing fantastic. Lundy is more of a between-the-tackles runner who lacks elite speed but also lacks the strength to really move the pile. His best weapon may be his ability to run with a low pad level and to follow his blocks with good field vision. Lundy accumulated nearly 60 yards on nine carries, and looks to get the start this weekend versus the Rams. Lundyís running style will be an immediate test for run stuffing nose tackle Jimmy Kennedy, whom fans are anxious to see live up to his first round draft status. But beyond Kennedy, the entire Rams defense will have to show a continued ability to stop the run, one of the key weaknesses from teams of the past. Does Haslettís speedy defense lack the bulk to really stand up against the run? We saw potential in Week One, now we need to see more.
4) David Carr. Over the last four years, Carr has been sacked 208 times. Thatís an average of a little over three sacks per game heís played in. Youíd think the Rams with their new pressure defensive line and blitzing scheme would have no problem getting to Carr, right? Well think again. Carr is performing very well in Kubiakís Broncos-style offense which has Carr utilizing his legs on roll-outs more than heís used to, and the result is that Carr is staying on his feet. The Kansas City Chiefs were unable to bring Carr down once, which is a rarity in Texan games. Will the Rams fair better? This could be an interesting precursor to the season-opening game against Denver, of whom Kubiak is the former offensive coordinator for.
So Rams fans, take pride in the fact that this weekís contest is not blacked out. In fact, take advantage of it. While no one pretends preseason football is an accurate indicator of how good a team will be, it does give you an interesting preview of what could be when you break down the contest and look at some of these specific individual match-ups.
Re: What to Watch for This Weekend Against Houston
Good read. However wouldn't Alex Barron in all likelyhood be moved from RT to LT if Pace sits, which puts Steussie on the RT spot? That would be a great matchup to watch if it happens, Barron vs. Williams, I think Barron would more than hold his own there.
Amazing how many times Carr has been sacked, I knew it was a lot, but wow, I wonder how that'll affect his durability. If he starts feeling old and stiff already in a couple of years, he can thank his O-line for that...
Re: What to Watch for This Weekend Against Houston
I am sure that the Texans will not be a push over since they must feel that they have something to prove his year. That is interesting that Carr was not sacked by the Chiefs. How long did they keep him in?
I wonder if they will be able to slow the sacks down this year.
This should be a good test for our run defense since they were able to run on the chiefs.
Thanks for the tips Nick.