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Overall Record

August 24, 2008
Kubiak's Preseason Perfection Ends

by Keith Weiland

Et tu, Brute Jones?

Houston's fake season Caesar, Gary Kubiak, is knifed in the back by Jacoby Jones, as the second year wide receiver drops a pass attempt for a two-point conversion. Instead of protecting a lead with two minutes to play, the Texans lose to the Cowboys 23-22.

The loss drops Kubiak's lifetime preseason record to 7-4, as his Texans lose for the first time in 2008. The drop by Jones only continues what has been a rather disappointing preseason by Jones, who was last year's darling of the fake games.

Burdened by a slow start following the neck injury to Harry Williams in kickoff coverage, the Texans kept the score close in spite of being over-matched, particularly by the Cowboys offense. Too soft in zone and too sloppy when tackling, the Texans defense allowed the Cowboys 266 yards and 20 points in the first half.

The first team offense regained form after a sluggish first quarter. Wide receiver Andre Johnson saw his first action of the preseason, but it was teammate Kevin Walter leading the way with six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown. The running game found a bit more room for the first time this preseason, as Chris Taylor, Steve Slaton, and Darius Walker combined for 112 yards and a 4.3-yard average.

Game Balls

Amobi Okoye hardly showed up in the stat sheet (one tackle), but he pushed his way into the Dallas backfield often. Mario Williams also failed to register a sack, but he was instrumental on two redzone turnovers. His first key play came in getting penetration to force Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to make a bad decision on a pass intercepted by linebacker Zac Diles. Then in the third quarter, he forced a fumble with the Cowboys knocking on the door for a double-digit lead.

Key Stat

13 rushes, 75 yards, 1 touchdown

This was the statline for Cowboys running back Marion Barber in just one half of play. The reactive zone defense employed by defensive coordinator Richard Smith was totally outplayed by Barber, as the Texans linebackers had a poor showing all evening as a unit. Smith will need to work with his defense on getting better outside containment, or he'll be forced to reckon with Steelers running backs doing the same in Week 1.

Drive Breakdown

Given the Friday night game scheduling, I had time to go back and watch this in detail, jotting notes as I went, the result of which is a drive-by-drive breakdown below of what I saw. Yeah, it's lengthy, but you've got four more days until the Texans' next game against the Bucs, so print this out and keep it near the toilet for good poop-time reading.

First Quarter

Houston Texans at 15:00
HST 3 DAL 0 Plays: 7 Yards: 11 Possession: 2:01

After two short passes TE Owen Daniels, Schaub feels pressure due to some poor pass protection from his guards, Kasey Studdard on the left and Mike Brisiel on the right. After a nice 68-yard kickoff return from Andre Davis to open the game, the drive stalls. Studdard’s inability to slow down the pass rush would become a theme for the rest of the game.

Dallas Cowboys at 12:59
HST 3 DAL 7 Plays: 7 Yards: 51 Possession: 4:23

Harry Williams is stretchered off the field before the first offensive snap for the Cowboys. Maybe it makes the Texans defense a bit tentative to start the game, or maybe the scheme employed by defensive coordinator Richard Smith is too soft and reactive. All three linebackers are playing on their heels. CB Jacques Reeves is providing too much cushion. Outside containment is lost by DE Anthony Weaver and CB Fred Bennett on separate plays. DE Roosevelt Colvin is manhandled by TE Jason Witten.

One bright spot on this drive is DT Amobi Okoye. He beat his man (usually G Leonard Davis) one-on-one at least three times in the drive’s seven plays. RB Marion Barber rushed four times for 27 yards, finding his way outside too easily. On the TD pass to WR Patrick Crayton, there were several blown coverage assignments and confusion amongst Bennett and LBs Zac Diles and DeMeco Ryans.

Houston Texans at 08:36
HST 3 DAL 7 Plays: 3 Yards: 5 Possession: 1:44

Studdard is out at left guard, rotating first team assignments with Chris White in place of the injured Chester Pitts. RB Chris Taylor rushes twice for five yards, and RT Eric Winston is ineffective in his pulling block on the backside. On third down, Schaub rushes his mechanics and overthrows WR Andre Johnson.

Dallas Cowboys at 06:52
HST 3 DAL 10 Plays: 7 Yards: 41 Possession: 2:50

Reeves shows poor awareness covering Crayton on an 11-yard pass, then later loses WR Terrell Owens on a 40-yard incompletion into the endzone. Deep safety help is nowhere to be found on the play. LB Morlon Greenwood is unable to shed a block on another outside run by Barber, this time good for 13 yards. Reeves inexplicably plays a 10-yard cushion on Owens, giving up an easy completion. Drive stalls after third down incompletion by QB Tony Romo to Owens, CB Demarcus Faggins in coverage.

Houston Texans at 04:02
HST 3 DAL 10 Plays: 3 Yards: -6 Possession: 1:08

White is still in at LG. WR Kevin Walter runs an end around, but LT Duane Brown never blocks DE Demarcus Ware, who takes down Walter with ease for a 6-yard loss. Schaub’s next two passes are off-target, the second of which could have intercepted by S Ken Hamlin.

Dallas Cowboys at 02:54
HST 3 DAL 10 Plays: 7 Yards: 54 Possession: 3:45

Okoye continues his good play with a tipped pass, though the screen pass is still completed for six yards to Barber. Bennett then is too soft in coverage on the next two plays, giving up completions to Owens and Witten for a total of 27 yards. Greenwood and Diles then each misread outside rushes by Barber, the second of which goes for 17 yards down to the 2-yard line.

2nd Quarter

Dallas drive continues. Greenwood makes a goalline stop to keep Barber out of the endzone, and Okoye is credited for the tackle. DE Mario Williams then penetrates and pressures Romo into bad decision as Diles intercepts in the endzone for a touchback.

Houston Texans at 14:09
HST 10 DAL 10 Plays: 12 Yards: 80 Possession: 6:17

RB Steve Slaton enters the game for Taylor, Studdard back in at LG. His first rush is just three yards when Daniels is unable to block Ware. DT Tank Johnson beats C Chris Myers up the middle, enough to disrupt Schaub’s attempt to Johnson. Had the pass been on target, Johnson could have run the slant for a 77-yard score. WR David Anderson makes a nice third down catch to keep the drive alive.

More trouble in pass pro at guard, as Studdard is beat in consecutive plays by DT Chris Canty. On the next play, Brisiel misses his block, but Schaub steps up in the pocket and completes to Daniels, his second target in three plays. Offense goes back to the run, and the OL is effective, including a 20-yard run by Slaton. Studdard then whiffs on a run block of DL Marcus Spears. On the scoring play, Brown misses his block on Ware, but Schaub shows poise in completing the 11-yard TD pass to Walter.

Dallas Cowboys at 07:52
HST 10 DAL 17 Plays: 11 Yards: 68 Possession: 5:56

Mario penetrates to keep Barber to a 2-yard gain. Romo throws a slant to Owen for a first down, Reeves can’t keep pace. Demps makes a good read on the run, as Barber runs into Okoye for no gain. Weird defensive playcall as Weaver is in coverage, gives up short pass. Cowboys convert third down, doubling Mario on obvious pass play, and Bennett is unable to close on Crayton for a 22-yard gain.

The linebackers then have brain freeze for the next few plays. Greenwood and Ryans are slow to read the plays in front of them and are easily blocked. Ryans then makes a bad read and is slow in coverage. Greenwood is taken out of a play by a run block. LB Kevin Bentley is a late sub, but DT Travis Johnson stuffs a middle run on the 1-yard line. Barber then goes airborne into the endzone for the TD as Diles takes a low trajectory.

Houston Texans at 01:56
HST 10 DAL 17 Plays: 7 Yards: 38 Possession: 1:22

White back in for Studdard, and he promptly earns a foul start penalty. Walter makes a nice grab for 6 yards, then Taylor catches a screen for 15, led by an awesome block by Myers. Schaub shows better accuracy on 9-yard completion to Daniels. White makes a nice pulling block to spring Taylor for a 6-yard run for first down. Schaub competes another good pass to Walter for 7 yards. Drive then stalls on next two plays as Schaub is nearly picked on second down and the pass pro falters on third down.

Dallas Cowboys at 00:34
HST 10 DAL 20 Plays: 5 Yards: 52 Possession: 0:32

Okoye beats Davis again, flushing Romo from the pocket. Romo though is able to scramble 13 yards with plenty of open space. Hurd runs skinny post for 32-yard reception into field goal territory as Ryans and Brown have breakdown in coverage. Reeves then plays soft coverage in giving up two short completions, probably just looking to avoid giving up the big play as damage is already done.

Houston Texans at 00:02

3rd quarter

Dallas Cowboys at 15:00
HST 10 DAL 20 Plays: 0 Yards: 0 Possession: 0:08

S Brandon Harrison forces a fumble on the opening kickoff, recovered by S Nick Ferguson.

Houston Texans at 14:52
HST 13 DAL 20 Plays: 7 Yards: 30 Possession: 3:08

Studdard back in at LG. He totally misses his run block, turns and has Slaton run right into him. Ware beats Brown to the inside, but Schaub completes anyway to Davis for 12 yards. Good run blocking all around on the next play, a 13-yard run for Slaton. Either Winston or FB Vonta Leach miss their assignment on the next play as Slaton is tackled for a 5-yard loss. Cowboys bring blitz, but Schaub finds an open Walter for 9 yards. Schaub then ignores two open receivers in the endzone, instead tossing incomplete to Slaton in the flat. K Kris Brown converts an easy field goal.

Dallas Cowboys at 11:44
HST 13 DAL 20 Plays: 9 Yards: 60 Possession: 6:11

Romo, Barber, Witten, and Owens are out, but most of the other starters appear to remain in the game. Okoye makes good penetration, credit 1-yard tackle to Weaver. QB Brad Johnson completes a short pass to TE Martellus Bennett, and Reeves in zone coverage totally misses the tackle as Bennett runs for 29 yards. Ryans makes a nice read and stops RB Felix Jones for just a yard. Weaver in coverage next and can’t tackle a receiver laying still on the ground. Ugh.

Reeves in then beaten in press coverage for 11-yard skinny post. Brown reads run and tackles Jones 2 yards. LBs playing too soft in zone coverage again, and F. Bennett misses an open field tackle. Mario then comes up big AGAIN deep in the redzone, forcing a fumble which is recovered by DT Frank Okam.

Houston Texans at 05:33
HST 16 DAL 20 Plays: 12 Yards: 83 Possession: 6:13

White is back at LG, first team offense remains in tact. Schaub play fakes to Davis for 26-yard completion. Nice play enabled by good pass pro. Taylor goes nowhere on next rush when Daniels is unable to block Ware. Illegal formation penalty is then called as someone is not on the line of scrimmage.

The offensive line continues to play well on this drive. Brisiel and Leach open up a 6-yard run for Taylor. Walter shows good concentration catching a tipped pass for 23 yards. Myers gets a good push on a nice cutback run by Taylor. Brown and White open up another decent gain for Taylor, 11 yards in two plays. Offense clicking as Schaub completes to Davis and Myers opens up another good run from Taylor.

4th Quarter

Houston drive continues. Slaton maybe makes up his mind too quick bouncing outside instead of cutting back. Leach then drops a soft toss from Schaub for an easy first down. Kris Brown converts another short field goal attempt.

Dallas Cowboys at 14:20
HST 16 DAL 20 Plays: 3 Yards: -2 Possession: 1:41

Backups in the game. Faggins swipes for an awesome pass break-up. LB Kevis Coley misses a clean tackle on Jones, but the 9-yard run is negated by an illegal formation penalty on Dallas. CB Derricl Roberson makes a good tackle on Jones for a short gain. Ferguson is beaten on a deep pass on third down, but the ball is overthrown. Good thing, if completed it would have been six points.

Houston Texans at 12:39
HST 16 DAL 20 Plays: 8 Yards: 31 Possession: 4:17

Studdard at RG, White at LG. RB Darius Walker misses his blitz pickup, but QB Sage Rosenfels completes anyway to TE Joel Dreesen for 7 yards. Rosenfels then rushes his next attempt, incomplete. Walker then runs downhill for the first down, C Greg Eslinger creating a little space. Walker then rushes twice more for another 8 yards, with Studdard getting pushed back a little on the first then slipping on the second. Drive is kept alive thanks to a holding penalty on Dallas.

Rosenfels makes a nice play action fake, but hardly looks downfield for an open receiver. He instead completes for 7 yards to Walker. Foul start penalty called on LT Rashad Butler. Rosenfels then tries to throw 20 yards to Bruener, but pass is weak and could have been picked off. Rosenfels then dumps short pass on third down, not enough for first, ending drive. Is no one open or is Rosnefels just not looking at his receivers?

Dallas Cowboys at 08:22
HST 16 DAL 23 Plays: 8 Yards: 63 Possession: 3:08

Good coverage by CBs Antwaun Molden and Faggins. DE Earl Cochran applies a little pressure and pass is thrown away. Another missed tackle by Coley. Johnson incomplete on third down pass, but then a crucial 12-man penalty on the defense continues the Dallas drive.

Safeties blow deep coverage, as WR Danny Amendola beats Glenn Earl for 35 yards into Houston territory. Johnson then makes a good pass complete for 13 yards, and RB Tashard Choice pushes up middle for 4 yards. Molden has tight coverage on 25-yard attempt into the endzone. DT Anthony Maddox penetrates, almost gets hand on Johnson, and Dallas fails to convert third down attempt.

Houston Texans at 05:14
HST 22 DAL 23 Plays: 7 Yards: 44 Possession: 3:09

Studdard is at LG, White at RG. Rosenfels find his poise again, penalty in coverage on Dallas. Anderson runs a good route for a 9-yard catch. Line gets good push for first down run by Walker. Anderson called for weird offensive pass interference call. Refs return favor on the next play, calling interference on defender mistiming slow throw by Rosenfels.

Another good downhill run by Walker for 6 yards on first down with good blocking by RT Brandon Frye, then again on the next play, 5 more yards for Walker. WR Mark Simmons make catch near goalline, but Dallas challenge reverses completion ruling. WR Jacoby Jones then bobbles catch at back of the endzone, incomplete, though he came down with it. On third down, Rosenfels then scrambles 8 yards for the score.

Texans choose to go for two-point conversion, avoiding the tie in preseason. Rosenfels finds Jones open, but Jones seems to lose concentration and drops the pass.

Dallas Cowboys at 02:05
HST 22 DAL 23 Plays: 5 Yards: 2 Possession: 2:05

Texans elect pooch kick over onsides attempt. DT Deljuan Robinson penetrates, stuffing Choice for 1-yard loss. Maddox penetrates on second dow, stops Choice for no gain. Maddox then forces fumble, Dallas recovers. Instead of a fourth down though, a holding penalty is called on Roberson for an automatic first down, killing the game.

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