The NFL pre-season is usually for veterans to rub some of the rust off from the off-season and for un-drafted players to prove they deserver a spot on the roster. The Houston Texans had to have a QB battle in the 1st 2 games of the pre-season to decide if Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallet will anchor this offense as the starter. In game one against the San Francisco 49ers both QB’s played well enough to show they had what it takes to be a starter, but against a tougher Denver Broncos team in game 2 both QB’s were lackluster at best. Ryan Mallet got the start in game 2 and a lot of his throws were not accurate or crisp. Mallet was 5/7 and only had 23 yards to start before head coach Bill O’Brien took him out for his teammate Hoyer. Brian came in and was supposed to give the offense a boost but in reality he was just as flat as Mallet. Hoyer threw for 7/11 and had 52 yards before he was replaced by third string QB Tom Savage. Savage looked good but fans must also realize he was playing against the Broncos 2nd and 3rd string players. The match between the QBs probably hurt worse then the actually loss since Hoyer or Mallet didn’t solidify the starting spot. The defense looked amazing and the special teams was showcasing some players that deserve a spot, but all the question marks are still unanswered when it comes to this offense.
On Monday the Texans announced Brian Hoyer will start at QB for the 2015 season and it is rightfully deserved. Yes he didn’t outshine Mallet in the 2nd game but he did show more precise passes, made better decisions and had better control of the ball. Keep in mind that just because Hoyer is the starter it doesn’t mean that Mallet wont have a shot as the starter. Coach O’Brien has made it known that Hoyer is on a short leash and if he doesn’t perform up to O’Brien’s terms then Ryan Mallet will replace him. A choice needed to obviously be made before the 3rd pre-season game since that is when mainly all the starters play and get some good reps. Now that Hoyer knows he is the guy he can go in with a positive mind and prove to his teammates and the fans that doubt him. His coaching staff , his O-line and his Wide receivers will all have to trust in him for this offense to click on all cylinders. He needs to work a little more with his number 1 WR DeAndre Hopkins so they get on the same page of routs being called and where DeAndre likes the ball to be placed. In game 1 Hoyer missed a wide open Hopkins that could have scored a touchdown and on the 2nd Hard Knocks episode you can clearly hear Coach O’Brien get hot-headed when Hoyer didn’t see his receiver. Hoyer will have dept. at the WR spot thanks to Hopkins, Nate Washington, Cecil Shorts III and rookie Jaelen Strong but his running backs will have to step up too if this offense has any chance at being successful this season.
Alfred Blue is clearly going to start at the RB spot that Arian Foster has left vacated due to his groin injury but he will have to prove he can anchor it down with the help of some of the other backs. All 5 RB’s played in the 2nd game and they had a combined total of 71 yards on 24 carries which averages out to about 3 yards per run. The RB’s struggled a bit in game 1 against a depleted 49ers defense and now they have struggled a bit to a really good Broncos defense. The Texans had a chance to sign free agent RB Pierre Thomas which is a very nice proven back that would have helped this team, but the Texans and his agent couldn’t agree on a contract deal. All that is left out on the market is RB Ray Rice which has the skills to help bolster this team but his assault case is what will keep him off this Texans squad. He will get a 2nd chance soon enough just like Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson got after his child abuse case. The Texans never go after the players that may be a head case but could be a “big reward if it all works out” type of player. This season should be the one time owner Bob McNair sucks up his pride and bring in Ray Rice for a visit. Let the players get a feel for him and see what happens from there. Plenty of teams in the NFL understand that it is not always good to associate yourself with a player that was facing criminal charges in the past, but your fans and team deserve a running back that can help drive this team into the playoffs. Ray Rice can hold down the fort until Arian Foster comes back and be a good 1-2 punch combo for opposing defenses which in return will take a ton of pressure off Brian Hoyer at the QB spot.
In all likelihood Ray Rice will not join this team because the Texans owner is going to stick by his motto. With the RB’s in place already this team will struggle a lot when that running game is stopped in its tracks like it was displayed in the 2nd pre-season game. Alfred Blue is a nice young player, but to think him and a mixture of other above average RB’s can get it done with 2 QBs that are on one night and the next missing in action you are asking for a very rocky season. The defense will keep this team competitive and win some games for them but this offense has so many unanswered questions I feel this is a season that owner Bob McNair may regret letting slip threw his fingers due to such a nice schedule and all the key injures. The only way the Texans can truly win the division or make the playoffs is if every player believes in the next man up motto and steps their game up to 110% every game. The coaching staff will be on edge until this offense gets a true alpha RB to hold the fort for Foster to come back and one of the QB’s has to prove he is the leader.