How has the Houston Texans trajectory changed in the AFC, increasing their chances of earning a first-round bye in the playoffs this season? It’s to take a look at scenarios and take a pulse check on this team at this point.
The Houston Texans took on the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday and the matchup could have easily been a trap game for a Houston team that had been riding an eight-game win streak. The Cleveland Browns, although have not been historically recognized as a team to worry about, were coming off back-to-back wins and Baker Mayfield was starting to show real signs of being a quarterback capable of turning the franchise around. Instead, the Texans dominated the Browns throughout the entire game. This bout was seen as a test for the Houston defense as they were matched up against Mayfield, who was named Offensive Rookie of the Month in November. The defense was ready for the challenge.
The score was 23-0 at halftime and the defense had picked off Mayfield three times in the 2nd quarter. Baker struggled to get anything going and the Houston secondary was flying all over the field. The offense was only able to put together one touchdown drive, but the defense helped them out with a interception returned for a touchdown by Zach Cunningham.
In the second half, rookie safety Justin Reid made a touchdown-saving play where he chased down Browns’ receiver Antonio Callaway on what would have been a catch run touchdown for over 70 yards. He made another highlight play where he had a huge hit on Jarvis Landry on the sideline, popping the ball free which forced an incompletion. Additionally, Lamar Miller had another big day on the other side of the ball. He rushed for over 103 yards, which marked the 4th time he reached the century mark this season. Deshaun Watson did not turn the ball over yesterday and threw for 224 yards and a touchdown on 22-for-31 attempts. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect yesterday, hitting five field goals and two extra points.
You could tell that the Texans began to let their foot off the gas in the second half, allowing Baker Mayfield to throw for 351 yards and a touchdown all after the halftime break. The offense looked stagnant but were able to move down the field just enough to get in field goal range two more times, ultimately putting the game out of reach.
The second half of that game does not necessarily worry me though. Being up 23 points in a game can cause a team to lose focus, just ask the Atlanta Falcons about their Super Bowl performance. It was impressive for them to remain calm and not get out their game plan to keep the Browns to only 13 points after halftime, especially with how flat they came out of the break. If anything, I believe this game was a reminder to the players and coaching staff that you have to finish games. Teams who play to not lose get beat.
The Texans got another win yesterday, in the form of a Pittsburgh Steelers loss. This puts them two games ahead of the Steelers in the AFC, who still have to play the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints. The Texans still have a chance for a first-round bye if the Patriots lose one more game and the Texans win out. People are finally starting to notice the Texans as a real contender in the AFC. All it took was breaking the record for the longest win after a 0-3 start in NFL history, the Kansas City Chiefs losing one of their biggest offensive weapons in Kareem Hunt and Steelers suffering two consecutive losses. Hey, as the old adage goes, better late than never.
How do you think things will pan out for the Houston Texans in the AFC? Feel free to comment in section below.
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Houston Texans: Rob and Brian’s final sign-off from Locked on Texans
Brian and Robert say goodbye to Locked on Texans. After 540 episodes, we bid a tearful farewell to Houston Texans faithful, reminisce about our tenure and share some final thoughts on the Houston Texans future.
Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the section below.
Interested in writing for Locked On Texans? Tweet us: @LockedOnTexans, Facebook: Locked On Texans or drop us a line at [email protected]
Houston Texans: Identifying the team’s most glaring weaknesses
What are the Houston Texans biggest weaknesses going into the 2019 off season? Rob and Brian bring on State of the Texans’ BigRon to discuss what needs to be done to fix a team that has tons of potential to be dominant. What’s the best way to improve the offensive line? Is Julién Davenport still worth developing and what should we expect to see in additional development?
How about the thought of shifting Greg Mancz to center and Nick Martin to guard? The trio also discusses the future of Whitney Mercilus on the roster as well as certain defensive lineman not getting enough playing time. What else? Take a listen to find out more!
Houston Texans: Le’Veon Bell and plethora of free agent running backs
What’s the best way for the Houston Texans to fix the running backs position for the 2019 season? They certainly can do better than bringing back Alfred Blue. Rob and Brian talk about what the team needs to do and gives their top free agent running backs to help this offense flourish. Is bringing in Le’Veon Bell a possibility? Can the Houston Texans get the back they want in this season’s draft?
The duo discusses that plus gives their thoughts of Indianapolis Colts’ firing offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and the interesting back story that likely factored into the move. Plus, Gary Kubiak finds a new job in the NFL. What else? Take a listen to find out more!