(SportsRadio 610) - While the Texans came away with the win in their preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints, the offense still has a long way to go.
They outgained the Saints, but had just four first downs, went 3-for-12 on third down and threw three interceptions. As a team, the Texans had 11 penalties, costing them 99 yards.
When asked Tuesday morning about what the offense was missing in execution, first-year offensive coordinator and play caller Pep Hamilton cited penalties keeping them behind the chains.
“I feel like we have a chance to be a tough unit, but we have to be tough, smart and disciplined at the same time," Hamitlon said. "There were way too many times where we put ourselves behind the chains. I think we had more than five situations where we had over 3rd-and-10. And that's not winning football. We've got to do a better job that way.
"But at the end of the day, for the first opportunity to go out and play in a real football environment, our guys showed that we have the potential to be tough."
The physicality and toughness is what appeared to be lacking in the first drive, when a run blitz by New Orleans allowed linebacker Chase Hansen to shoot the gap and tackle running back Marlon Mack for a two-yard loss.
On the very next play, Davis Mills threw a screen pass to wide receiver Chris Conley, which was designed for tight end Brevin Jordan to block for him using his athleticism in space. But Jordan whiffed, and cornerback Paulson Adebo tackled Conley for a one-yard loss. At that point, it's 3rd and 13, an obvious passing situation for Houston.
“I think we have to mitigate the mistakes," Hamilton said. "We have to do a better job of not putting ourselves behind the chain and just maintain a certain level of focus throughout the entire game."
It was a win the Texans took gladly, especially opening the preseason at home. They were also without at least two of their starting offensive linemen.
Two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil did not play. Veteran center Justin Britt was also held from the game due to a lingering knee injury. Kenyon Green, the rookie selected 15th overall in the draft this year to play left guard, is still sidelined with a knee injury and it's unclear when he will return.
Both of those veterans practiced in pads with the team Tuesday, while Green watched in a jersey and shorts. Until Green is healthy, the Texans will rely on Max Scharping and Justin McCray at left guard. Hamilton was complimentary of both of them following Tuesday's practice.
"I think we have to start in practice," Hamilton said when asked how to mitigate the mistakes and penalties. "We have to turn it down in practice and just make sure, as we said, initially just to focus and focus on doing our job each play."
Brandon Scott is the editor for SportsRadio610.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandonkscott. Reach him directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.