In my estimation, there are four quarterbacks in the NFL with cemented legendary status, who all four continue to perform at a high to elite level currently — Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger, maybe even in that order. They've all won Super Bowls, and they've hoarded the lead in passing yards for each season over about a decade.
However, they're also all in their mid 30's to early 40's, and someday soon, the reserved parking spaces they occupy in the "best QB" argument will be vacated, and when the time comes for the torch to be passed into the 2020's, there are a slew of young signal callers waiting to take their place, win Super Bowls, become legends.
Saturday night in NRG Stadium, we saw two of those young QB's in action. It was brief, but Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo both showed why we could be talking about some Houston and San Francisco Super Bowls at some point in the next ten years. Both led their teams to touchdowns in their opening drives (for Watson, his only drive), and both were pretty much the reason their teams scored.
For you Texan fans, here were Watson's throws....
Over the course of the remainder of the game, a 16-13 Texans win, for those of you into final scores of preseason games, there were winners and losers. Let's take a look....
4. Justin Reid
Reid had a rough game in his first outing as a rookie against the Chiefs, but bounced back nicely on Saturday night against the Niners. He led the team with six tackles and looks a lot more confident this time around. There a couple communication mix ups early in the game with Reid on the field, but not sure if those were his fault. Regardless, those are fixable errors for which the preseason exists in the first place. Reid has a chance to be a third round pick who ends up playing at a first or second round level.
3. Bruce Ellington
With DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller sitting this one out, Ellington stepped into the lead receiver role, and he didn't miss a beat. Deshaun Watson's one drive was almost exclusively made up of targets to Ellington, who showed some nice catch and run ability on a 37-yard play to swing field position. Overall, Ellington rang up four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. With rookie Keke Coutee still nursing a hamstring, and despite Braxton Miller being given every opportunity to win a job, the reliable Ellington is angling toward the starting slot receiver position for Week 1.
2. Duke Ejiofor
One of the themes this week on my radio show was identifying young players we wanted to see sustain their performance from Week 1 of the preseason. For me, Ejiofor was at the top of that list, after an opening professional game in which he hit Kansas City quarterbacks three times, and pressured them several others. Well, on Saturday, Ejiofor made the tackle on San Francisco's first two kickoff returns, and had a tackle for loss on the second play from scrimmage. Mission accomplished, I'd say.
1. Joe Webb
Going into Saturday night, I already had Webb making the 53-man roster, but there is still much debate among scribes in town as to whether this team will carry three quarterbacks (even though Webb can be more than just a quarterback, with his play on special teams, and at receiver in a pinch). I would hope Webb's drive down the field to win the game on Saturday brings him closer to cementing a spot, especially given the Texans' history of needing multiple quarterbacks, but we shall see. Regardless, it ended up being a solid night for Webb, who even got to make a tackle on the one interception he threw!
4. The concussed
The Texans lost two players to concussions on Saturday night. First, there was Kevin Johnson, who was concussed when his head thumped the ground on a 40 yard catch by Marquire Goodwin, which is the ultimate metaphor for Kevin Johnson's last couple years. Then, later in the game, Sammie Coates, who has been making a strong claim on the fifth wide receiver spot, got concussed, after making three catches for 32 yards. Tough one for Johnson, because he was rebuilding his momentum, and tough one for Coates, who is trying to keep a job.
3. Alfred Blue
Seven carries, 17 yards, lost a fumble that was luckily recovered by a teammate. Seriously, there's NOBODY better out there?
2. This new helmet tackling rule
I wrote a whole post on this rule after the Hall of Fame game a couple weeks ago, so my general feelings are clickable already. Last night, the Texans finally had the helmet rule impact their game, with the Niners' Raheem MOstert getting flagged....
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Flags from the 49ers-Texans game: 1. Mostert hit on punt return, 2. Attaochu rushes the passer. pic.twitter.com/4NDWoHPSYf— TheRenderNFL (@TheRenderNFL) August 19, 2018
I mean, what an abomination. It's one of those calls that's so bad, it doesn't even feel good to benefit from a 15 yard penalty. Roger Goodell, stop this madness! It's not making the game any safer, it's just giving teams unearned penalty yards and affecting outcomes, potentially.
1. Paxton Lynch
If the Texans' drafting of Deshaun Watson sits at one end of the success spectrum when it comes to drafting franchise quarterbacks, then John Elway's drafting of Paxton Lynch has to sit at the other. In the last week, Lynch has fallen to third string behind a former Mr. Irrelevant draft pick (Chad Kelly), been booed out of his home stadium, and had his own team's fans start a GoFundMe account to cut him and pay his guaranteed salary. That's Brock Osweiler level stuff! (Worth noting, John Elway drafted both Osweiler and Lynch.)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.