What We Saw: Preseason Week 1

The WWS Team recaps the first week of the NFL Preseason

Saints @ Texans

Final Score: Texans 17, Saints 13

Writer: Dan Adams (@Dadams0323 on Twitter)

 

Two drives of Davis Mills was the most action any starter had in this game as both teams chose to rest most of their key players. With the backup offenses, this was a tough game to watch, as neither team could get anything consistently going on offense. The main takeaway from this game was rookie running Dameon Pierce looked amazing, albeit against the second and third-team defense, and has a real chance to matter for fantasy teams this season. Otherwise, the game was mostly uneventful. The Houston defense largely outclassed the New Orleans offense, but repeated mistakes by the Texans on offense allowed the Saints to cling to a lead until late in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel led the Texans on a 90-yard drive to score the game-winning touchdown and give the Texans a narrow 17-13 victory.

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Quarterback

 

Andy Dalton: 5/5, 51 yards, TD | 1 carry, 6 yards

Ian Book: 15/22, 121 yards, INT, 5 Sacks, 2 Fumbles (1 Lost) | 4 carries, 22 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -2 yards

 

Andy Dalton got the start as the Saints rested their starters, and after leading a convincing touchdown drive without an incompletion his night was over. We all know what Dalton is at this point, and the Saints seem content to pencil him in as the backup without much competition.

Ian Book took over from there and mostly struggled. Book looked comfortable on the move and flashed some upside as a runner, but he frequently held the ball too long and wasn’t very accurate. He fumbled a snap and threw a bad high pass which was tipped and intercepted. Book didn’t lead a drive longer than 37 yards until late in the fourth quarter and turned excellent field position off of turnovers into two field goals.

 

Running Back

 

Abram Smith: 7 carries, 30 yards, Fumble (Lost) | 3 targets, 1 reception, 12 yards

Tony Jones Jr.: 7 carries, 27 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Devine Ozigbo: 8 carries, 26 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, -1 yard

Dwayne Washington: 9 carries, 19 yards, X TD, Fumble | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards, TD

 

Dwayne Washington started and looked to have a firm lead as the third running back on the depth chart. He looked quick and showed off some excellent receiving skills. Washington did fumble once but was able to fall on it. He caught all three of his targets and did a nice job setting up his blockers to score easily on a screen pass.

 

Given Mark Ingram is 32 and Alvin Kamara has pending legal troubles hanging over him Washington is a name to remember at the end of your draft.

Tony Jones was the next man up and also handled kick return duties. He had once great run, breaking a few tackle attempts and busting out a spin move, but was otherwise held in check.

 

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Chris Olave: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

Marquez Callaway: 1 target, 1 reception, 19 yards

Dai’Jean Dixon: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards

Tre’Quan Smith: 2 targets, 1 reception, 15 yards

Adam Trautman: 1 target, 1 reception, 4 yards

 

It was a tough night for the New Orleans receivers. They all struggled with creating separation and weren’t done any favors by the poor quarterback play of Book. Rookie Chris Olave played with both Dalton and Book, suggesting he hasn’t locked up an every-down role quite yet. Olave had one short reception and otherwise failed to make an impact. The ultra-athletic Kirk Merritt is reportedly having a strong camp and earned two targets, including a very clean slant route that looked reminiscent of Saints star Michael Thomas.

 

Houston Texans

 

Quarterback

 

Davis Mills: 3/3, 14 yards

Jeff Driskel: 16/26, 165 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, Sack | 3 carries, 17 yards

 

Starter Davis Mills handled two drives before calling it a night. The Houston offense was very conservative while he was out there and Mills wasn’t asked to do anything more than check it down.

Jeff Driskel handled the rest of the game and looked to be on his way to a strong performance. Driskel turned two New Orleans turnovers into ten points, capping the Texans’ first touchdown drive with a beautiful back-shoulder throw to Jalen Camp.

 

 

Driskel looked confident moving outside the pocket and had a few nice runs, but as the game went on he struggled to protect the ball. His first interception was the result of a late pass to the running back, which allowed the defender to tip the ball up for an easy interception. The second interception was a great play by two defenders, one to break up the pass and another to dive for the interception.

 

 

Driskel’s third pick came on an underthrown deep ball, and his mistakes were really the only thing keeping this game close. To his credit, Driskel righted the ship in time to lead a 90-yard game-winning drive that he finished with an easy toss to a wide open receiver.

 

Running Back

 

Dameon Pierce: 5 carries, 49 yards | 1 target

Royce Freeman: 12 carries, 25 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards

Marlon Mack: 3 carries, 6 yards

 

Marlon Mack got the start and had no time to run. He exited the game with the rest of the starting offense and is clearly the current favorite to lead the backfield in Week 1. Dare Ogunbawale came in on passing downs with the first-team offense, but it is worth noting veteran Rex Burkhead sat this one out.

The star of the game was easily rookie Dameon Pierce. He was running against backups, but he popped off the screen with every touch. He demonstrated quickness, good vision, and great balance.

Pierce had some nice holes to run through, but he only has to beat out Mack to take over the backfield and seems like a good bet to be a key contributor in the second half of the season.

Royce Freeman ran behind mostly the same offensive line that Pierce was working with, but the same holes Pierce was turning into big gains didn’t yield the same results with Freeman. Freeman didn’t at all look like a former highly-touted prospect running against a third-string defense and is unlikely to be a contributor.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Jalen Camp: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 53 yards, TD

Johnny Johnson III: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards, TD

Chris Moore: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Phillip Dorsett: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards

Chris Conley: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards

 

Chris Conley was the only receiver Davis Mills targeted with Brandin Cooks sitting this one out.

Jalen Camp was the best of the backups, scoring the touchdown shown above and hauling in a contested deep ball. The rookie sixth-rounder is a big target with a solid speed score and was Driskel’s primary read.

Johnny Johnson III had a clutch final drive, breaking out not one but three spin moves to get the Texans close to the goal line on his first reception before easily burning his defender to get open for the game-winning touchdown.

 

Tight end Brevin Jordan was running with the third-string offense and really struggled in this game, committing a costly pass interference penalty on the same play where he dropped a wide open pass. He was a semi-popular breakout candidate earlier this off-season, but he appears to be a long way away from contributing.

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