The Texans were coy about it during the week, but they wound up going ahead and starting 2014’s first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney against the Cardinals on Saturday night.
Clowney’s first taste of NFL action gave us our first look at him as a linebacker dropping into pass coverage. It was a mixed bag for Clowney, who wrapped up Andre Ellington after a short completion before getting beaten by tight end John Carlson for a touchdown that wound up being called back because of an Arizona penalty. All in all, his work in coverage was about what you’d expect from a player performing a role for the first time.
Clowney’s other work was about what you’d expect as well. He blew up a running play on the Cardinals’ second drive and dropped Stepfan Taylor for a five-yard loss. He looked good against the run in general and provided good pressure on Drew Stanton that didn’t quite get home before Stanton delivered a touchdown pass to Jaron Brown. We also saw what it looks like when Clowney and J.J. Watt line up on the same side when that formation led to a sack for Watt against a single blocker.
There were some big issues with the Texans defense on Saturday night as both Stanton and Carson Palmer led easy touchdown drives in the first quarter. And there were some big issues with the offense, which went three and out and got intercepted on their first two possessions. So it’s all the better for them that there don’t appear to be any with Clowney.