The Houston Texans won their second straight preseason game Saturday night in a 20-14 victory against the Dallas Cowboys. The Texans flaunted their enhanced defense at AT&T Stadium, as they recorded four takeaways and five sacks in Dallas.
Charles Omenihu recorded two of the Texans’ five sacks, which awarded the University of Texas prodigy his first game ball a day after his 24th birthday.
“You get four turnovers and you don’t turn it over, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to win the football game,” first-year coach David Culley said. “That’s what they’ve been preaching all training camp. They’re doing a good job with it back there in the secondary. And again, a lot of that has to do with what’s happening upfront. The pressure that the upfront people put on and it all works together.”
As the Texans improve to 2-0 in the preseason, here are three observations from Houston’s I-45 showdown against the Cowboys.
1. Lonnie Johnson turning defense into offense
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
With a full-time position change and new defensive coordinator, Lonnie Johnson Jr. could be on the verge of a career season in 2021. Johnson is one of several defensive backs who have left an impressive mark on Houston’s coaching staff since the start of training camp. And during the Texans’ preseason victory against the Cowboys, Johnson’s performance is one of several reasons Houston’s defense will not be the laughing stock of the league next season. Midway through the third quarter, Johnson recorded a 53-yard pick-six following an interception thrown by Cowboys’ quarterback Ben DiNucci. Johnson’s interception was one of three on the night for the Texans — fully executing Lovie Smith’s defensive philosophy of converting takeaways into points on the scoreboard. “Explaining, defining, our defensive philosophy, there is something we want to get accomplished defensively,” Smith said during his introductory press conference in April. “It all kind of starts with how you win football games – scoring points. I’d like for us to have a defense that realizes that, that the number one goal is to score. The second goal we have would be to take the ball away.”
2. Jaleel Johnson will be a vital piece in the Texans’ run defense
As great as the secondary was during their victory against the Cowboys, Houston’s front four was just as adequate. The big fellas up front recorded five sacks in Dallas, which included Jacob Martin recording a strip-sack on quarterback Garrett Gilbert on Dallas’ first drive of the game. Omenihu recovered the forced fumble. But one defensive lineman who quietly left a notable impact on Houston’s d-line was Jaleel Johnson. He was a vital piece in helping the Texans hold the Cowboys to less than 100 yards in rushing (95) on 30 attempts. Johnson’s quickness coming off the line of scrimmage resulted in him creating disruption in Dallas’ backfield. He recorded four run stops on his own, and sealed multiple gaps the Cowboys’ offensive line tried to create for their running backs.
3. Offense could not find their rhythm
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
The Texans solely won their second preseason game on the pure strength of their defense. It appeared that the Texans could not find their rhythm on the offensive side of the ball, as Houston failed to convert on third down — going 0-for-10. Their most consequential problem on offense against the Cowboys was their inability to establish the run. Houston recorded 89 yards in rushing against the Cowboys, a sizable drop off from the 170 registered against the Packers during their preseason opener in Green Bay. If the run game is nonexistent, David Culley and his coaching staff cannot be reluctant to utilize their passing game more frequently. Houston’s offense looked more superior in passing, as Houston’s quarterbacks completed 56 percent of their pass attempts for 131 yards. “We need to be more consistent,” Culley said. ” I think tonight, we got a few more blitzes than what we got in the first game. We knew that could possibly happen, and I think it disrupted us a little bit. But for the most part, it’s going to be that way. We’ll get better at that. When we go back and watch the video and see what needed to be done, it usually goes back to somebody not doing their job and not doing what they needed to do.”