Defense Off to Hot Start in Training Camp. When Does the Offense Click?
The head coach isn't worried. I'm not either...yet.
The Houston Texans have had incredible play from their defense through five training camp practices. There hasn’t been one practice where I would say the offense got the better of the defense.
The head coach of the team isn’t worried.
“Typically in training camp, that’s how it goes,” said DeMeco Ryans when asked if the defense was ahead of the offense. “In most training camps I’ve been a part of, the defense kind of always starts out ahead of the offense. Both sides, a lot of install going in. A lot of new things, new plays. Typically takes the offense a little bit longer to get going, but it doesn’t take them long to catch up.”
DeMeco Ryans isn’t worried, so I’m not worried.
While I admit I would have expected one of these days to go to the offense by now, it makes sense why the defense is making play after play. There is a rookie quarterback or Davis Mills under center. The offensive line has never played a game together. Basically, the entire receiving room with the exception of Nico Collins is new. The tight end room has a new top tight end and young players behind him.
Not to mention the commitment to this new offense. Dalton Schultz noted the volume of the playbook. Dameon Pierce called it “the Bible” when referencing its size. There is a lot to take in for the new faces, and with new information to this level comes a learning curve.
It would be nice to see some wins for the offense though. Sure, C.J. Stroud has made a few plays and there have been some cheer-worthy receptions but the ledger is in favor of the defense when it comes to spectacular plays.
Take Monday for instance. Davis Mills completes a deep pass to rookie wideout Xavier Hutchinson. Then you realize in a game that doesn’t happen because defensive end Will Anderson came screaming off the edge and held up at the last second so Mills could make that throw.
Then there is Derek Stingley. The top defensive back selected in the 2022 draft made his presence felt in a big way on Monday. C.J. Stroud floated a duck to the sideline and the next thing you knew Stingley was flying down the sideline for a touchdown.
Safety Jalen Pitre is all over the field. Fellow safety Jimmie Ward has had the defense in the right spots. Cornerback Steven Nelson has been nasty defending pass catchers. Linebacker Blake Cashman has made the most of his reps hauling in two interceptions in two days. Jacob Martin has had some sacks in the workouts.
It goes on and on for the defense.
It feels though, like the offense is right around the corner. The wide receivers have their moments with rookie Tank Dell getting a quick release for a first down or Nico Collins living over the middle in traffic. When Dalton Shultz returns and Teagan Quitoriano is healthy there will be matchups to exploit. The running backs broke through a few times on Monday.
It will take time. Offenses in the NFL are more complicated. More nuanced. Players are prone to thinking, not reacting. As the material becomes more familiar, the players will get familiar with success.
It isn’t a massive talent gap either. There are players to be excited about on offense.
Asking when the offense will arrive is a fair and good question. The better one might be at what point should there be a concern for the performance of this offense.
We aren’t there yet. We won’t get there this week. I do know if the first preseason game is 48 hours away and we are talking about this Texans team like the 1985 Bears there will, and should, be some hand-wringing about this offense.
I took a look at the struggle of C.J. Stroud in Monday’s practice and talked more about the defense’s big days on YouTube. Check it out below.