Everyone is going to point to the success of Arian Foster/Ben Tate on Saturday night and he was impressive with only a couple of days of practice. But, the Texans offensive line has been fantastic at the point of attack. The quintet of Duane Brown, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, Mike Brisiel and Eric Winston have grown up together and have the zone scheme down pat. This group left gaping holes for Tate and Foster, who had two touchdowns in the first quarter.
The city of Houston is in love with JJ Watt, but I thought his first drive against the Saints was indicative of a young player not comfortable with a position change just yet. In other words—it wasn't good at all. Watt consistently sped into the backfield, often using a swim move to get upfield past Saints linemen. But, he often did it at the expense of leaving huge gaps in the run defense. Instead of playing down the line of scrimmage, Watt got WAY upfield and was out of the play immediately. The Texans' linebackers aren't that good to fill a gap that large. On the second drive, Watt adjusted and played more technique sound and the results were telling.
OLB Mario Williams looked a bit more comfortable outside in his second start at that position, but I'm still hesitant to think he's going to have a DeMarcus Ware type impact. Now, when the Texans show their four man line and he can put his hand on the ground, he looks like a DE unleashed. Expect more of that four man line in nickel situations with tackle/end games, loops and stunts in the future.
RB Mark Ingram is the type of back the Saints have needed for a long time. As much as I like the versatility of Pierre Thomas, you can see the Saints desire to get into two back I formation sets with Ingram and pound on defenses. That doesn't sound very "Saints-like" to be a battering ram offense, but then again with hosses like Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans up front, running the ball with some G Isolation or zone cutback with Ingram will save this team in the fourth quarter when it has a lead.
Furthermore, the Saints now can rely on a running back to get in the end zone when the Saints are inside the ten yard line. Thomas doesn't have the power that Ingram does and the Saints are going to lean on Ingram's ability to get six when inside the five.
Adding Aubrayo Franklin was a must for this team, but after injuring his MCL last night, it leaves the Saints vulnerable with its depth inside. Sed Ellis and Shaun Rogers need some help inside without Franklin's big body.
With the Saints defensive line hurting without Franklin, the Saints linebackers' play suffered against the run. Even a great linebacker like Jonathan Vilma was slow to get to holes and when he did get to the hole, he got shoved on past the hole by Texans offensive linemen. Vilma has to be protected to star in this defense.
Keep in mind, the Saints didn't do much in the way of blitzing or running dogs/stunts or anything exotic. Last week against the 49ers, DC Gregg Williams brought a ton of different looks, but with a rematch with the Texans on the horizon in week 3, Williams stayed basic and showed very little in this one.