Houston Texans 2017 Preview

 

The Houston Texans went into the 2017-2018 NFL Season as one of the favorites from the AFC to win Super Bowl 52. The odds on the Texans were between 20 to 1 and 25 to 1. Considering that New England was a 3 to 1 favorite, and Pittsburgh was an 8 to 1 favorite, 20 to 1 to 25 to 1 odds made Houston no worse than the third to fourth choice from the AFC.

Lots was expected from the Houston Texans this season.  Things haven’t turned the way that Houston’s fans expected them to. Check out an update on the Houston Texans!

Houston Texans 2017 Update

The Houston Texans won the AFC South Division in 2016. Houston made the playoffs. They battled the New England Patriots valiantly in the first half of the AFC Divisional Playoffs before the Pats pulled away from the Texans in the second half.

Whispers about a possible Super Bowl berth flowed through the streets of Houston, Texas before the regular season started. For a time during the regular season, huge hopes still reigned in Houston. Then, it all came crashing down.

Is DeShaun Watson the Answer Under Center?

Answer: Absolutely. But, not this season

DeShaun Watson, the 2016 College Football National Championship hero, became the Answer for the Houston Texans minutes after they moved up to draft him in Round 1. Watson had the rushing skills reminiscent of Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick when they had left college to pursue their NFL careers.

The difference is that Watson was a much more accomplished pocket passer than either RGIII or Vick. Watson didn’t disappoint. DeShaun didn’t officially become the Texans’ starting quarterback until Week 3. In Week 3, Watson faced New England’s defense. He performed well. He threw 2 TDs and for 301 yards. He completed 66.7% of his passes. He did throw 2 interceptions, but Texans fans were privy to how amazing DeShaun Watson could be.

Watson didn’t stop in Week 3. In Week 4, he continued to improve. His stats in Week 4 were awesome:  283 passing yards from an over 73% completion percentage. DeShaun threw 4 TD passes to only a single interception. In Week 5, Watson threw 5 TD passes versus KC’s D. In Week 6, he threw 3 TD passes versus Cleveland. Against Seattle in Week 8, Watson threw 4 TD passes.

Watson’s final TD to INT ratio was 19 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. He played in 7 games total. He only started 5 of the 7 games. In those 7 games played with only 5 started, he managed to rush for 269 yards from 36 carries. That’s a 7.5 per rush average. Watson scored 2 rushing TDs.

Notice I wrote that last paragraph in the past tense? The reason is because Watson suffered a Teddy Bridgewater non-contact like injury during practice before Week 9. RGII never bounced back from his injury. Will DeShaun bounce back from his?

I believe he will. I watched Watson play when he was doing his thing for the Clemson Tigers. I could see right away that he wasn’t a flash in the pan quarterback. He’s got exceptional skills across the board. He doesn’t just have quarterback skills. He’s also got leadership skills.

Although his rookie year crashed due to the injury, I have faith that DeShaun Watson bounces back better than ever. He most definitely is the Answer in Houston.

Can RB Lamar Miller Bounce Back?

Answer:  Yes

This is what I wrote in my preview about Lamar Miller’s 2016:

“Miller didn’t have a terrible season in 2016. He did rush for 1,073 yards and averaged 4 yards per carry. He scored 5 rushing TDs. What was also decent is that Miller caught 31 passes. Miller only turned those 31 passes into 188 yards. He also only caught 1 pass for a TD.”

So, has Lamar Miller, the Texans’ prized free agent pickup last season, had a better 2017 than 2016? I believe he has. He’s on track to again garner over 1,000 rushing yards. He only has 3 rushing TDs. But, Miller’s been much, much better in the passing game this season than he was last season.

Last season, Miller caught 31 passes for 188 yards. He averaged 6.1 yards per catch. Miller caught a single TD pass. This season, Lamar already has 27 catches. We’re at Week 13. Miller’s 27 catches have gone for 271 yards. That’s a 10 yards per catch average. Miller’s caught 3 TD passes already.

Lamar Miller has definitely improved in his second season with the Houston Texans. There’s no doubt that Lamar Miller had developed a rapport with DeShaun Watson before the QB got hurt. Miller’s rapport with Watson wasn’t better than superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins’ rapport with Watson.

It wasn’t bad, though. More importantly, adding DeShaun at QB had opened things up for Miller. Next season Miller could be better. Watson will be healthy while Hopkins isn’t going anywhere.

Can Houston’s Defense Get Better?

Answer: Not even close

This was one of the major questions for the Houston Texans heading into the 2017 season. Could the Houston Texans’ defense get better? It was a legitimate question because although Houston’s defense was great during the regular season, it couldn’t hold the New England Patriots to less than 34 points in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.

If Houston was to have any shot at Super Bowl 52, the defense had to improve. This is especially true about the pass defense, which showed signs in 2016 of depreciation. The Texans’ pass defense did rank first in yards allowed per. However, a few teams took advantage of the secondary, including Tom Brady, that led to Houston’s quick exit from the Super Bowl.

Houston’s defense didn’t improve at all in 2017. In fact, it’s much worse. The main reason is because like losing their best offensive player during the season, the Texans lost their best defensive player during the season. Versus the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5, J.J. Watt suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg.

Before J.J.’s injury, the Texans were 2 and 2. In Week 4, the Texans’ defense had been so devastating that it held Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans to only 14 points. Due to DeShaun’s heroics and Watt anchoring the defense, the 57 to 14 win signaled that the Texans were indeed ready to challenge for a Super Bowl berth in the AFC.

The first game with Watt out, Houston gave up 42 points to the KC Chiefs. In Week 8, Seattle beat the Texans 41 to 38. In Week 10, the L.A. Rams scored 33 versus Houston’s D. Losing Watt changed the Houston Texans’ defense.

Bottom Line: 2017 Houston Texans

Once DeShaun Watson took over, the Houston Texans appeared destined to repeat as AFC South Division Champions. With Watson under center, it appeared impossible to stop the Texans from scoring points. Watson is unique in the sense that he’s an excellent pocket passer that can also run with the football.

The Texans’ offense isn’t the same with Tom Savage at QB. With that being written, the true reason that Houston won’t make the playoffs this season is because of their defense. The best example of how Houston’s defense has led to disaster is the Texans’ Week 12 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore, like they are most seasons, is a defense driven team. The Ravens’ D ranks 7th in yards allowed per game. The defense only allows 305.7 yards per. But as good as the Ravens’ defense is, it’s offense is horrendous.

Baltimore’s offense yields 281.1 total yards per. That ranks 31st in the NFL. Baltimore only passes for 164.3 yards per. That ranks 32nd in the NFL. Even with the horrendous offense, the Ravens managed to beat the Texans 23 to 16 in Week 12.

Tom Savage lead the Houston Texans to 16 points versus one of the better defenses in the NFL. That’s probably as good as it gets for the Texans with Savage at QB. The defense allowed one of the worst offenses in the NFL to score 23 points.

That’s why the Texans aren’t going to make the playoffs. Losing Watson was terrible to Houston’s chances of repeating as AFC South winners. Losing Watt on the defense spelled absolute disaster.