The Houston Texans finished season 1 with a crippling defeat to the New England Patriots in the Conference Championship. The Texans had solid victories over the Ravens and the Titans to get to the championship round, but their good fortune came to an end. The Texans had an impressive season 1 in PML and looking ahead to the off-season, they had a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball. The Texan’s ranked in the top five in points per game and offensive yards per game but ranked in the bottom five on the defensive side of the ball in yards per game, but were middle of the pack in points per game. The Texans were without a first or second round pick in the draft, but a crafty mid-season deal gave the Texan’s an extra third round pick to work with. The Texan’s had minimal cap space to work with and they were able to sign tight end Jared Cook. The Texans relied on Darren Fells as their starter in season 1, but they ultimately felt that he regressed beyond repair in the off-season and had to let him go. The Texan’s were unable to address the defensive side of the ball in free agency but with needs at halfback, defensive end, and defensive back, they were able to address those needs in the draft.
The Texans drafted halfback Kenneth Gainwell out of Memphis with the eleventh pick in the third round. The Texans wanted to make drafting a halfback a priority since both Duke Johnson and David Johnson only have a year left on their contracts. Gainwell dropped in the draft, presumably due to his 40 yard dash time, but the Texan’s really liked his catching ability coming out of the backfield. The Texans followed this pick up with corner Asante Samuel Jr also in the third round. Samuel is set to start in the slot position right out of the gate with former slot corner, Keion Crossen getting promoted to the starting corner opposite Gareon Conley. The Texans got what they believe to be a steal in halfback Javian Hawkins in the fourth round. Hawkins is the faster back whereas Gainwell is more of the pass catcher. Coach Bull is going to allow both backs the time to develop in the preseason and then assess which should be the starter. The Texan’s latter selections were more of project players to fill in the role of veteran players as their contracts expires in future seasons. The Texan’s are very excited about center Jimmy Morrissey out of Pittsburgh. He has the potential to be a starting center in the league and the Texan’s want to develop him to one day takeover the starting position for Nick Martin. The Texan’s hit on majority of their needs in the draft with the selections that they had and are very excited about their team heading into week one of the regular season.
The Rookie Spectacle –
The Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans faced off in week 1 and the Texan’s defense had their most dominant performance this entire madden cycle. The Texan’s defense picked Russell Wilson off six times with Justin Reid coming down with three of them. The AFC Defensive back of the year was ready to prove that winning that award didn’t go to his head. He also had seven solo tackles on the game. The Texans defense smothered Russell Wilson all game long, they also forced three fumbles and had two sacks. The Texans came away with a 45-14 victory. The Texans aren’t strangers to being able to score points, but in this game, the points came from a much different way than how they did in season 1.
The Texans have four running backs on their roster. Duke Johnson was their workhorse in season 1. He saw the bulk of the carries and was their pass catcher out of the backfield on third downs. David Johnson was brought over to Houston in a controversial trade that sent Deandre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. The Texans went into the draft knowing that they didn’t have plans for either Johnson after this season, so they wanted to address the position. Gainwell and Hawkins were drafted one round a part, but the Texan’s figured Gainwell would get the start based on his three down capability, but it has been Hawkins with his pure athleticism that has taken the league by storm in week 1.
Javian Hawkins punished the Seahawks on the ground. He had 26 carries for 112 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 3 catches for 27 yards proving that he can also do it all. Hawkins will have to work on his pass protection though if he wants to truly be a three down starter.
A Game that Almost Got Away –
The Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans faced off for the first time since the controversial Deandre Hopkins trade was made and the game came down to the wire, but the Texans were able to come away with a 31-27 victory. The Texan’s offense continued to lean heavily on the running game. Javian Hawkins scampered for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns on 19 carries while adding 4 catches for 48 yards through the air. The moral of the story for the Texans has to be to protect the football at all times.
Deshaun Watson threw three interceptions and Marquise Goodwin fumbled the ball on the two yard line. Goodwin was seen showboating and got gang tackled which made him cough up the ball. Goodwin stated that he attempted to fall to the ground but in the process had the ball ripped from his arms. We re-watched the tape and it appeared that he just celebrated way too early. His fumble gave the Cardinals the ammo that they needed to come back and take the lead. If Goodwin was able to score on that play, the Texans would have taken a commanding two score lead. The Texans will have to clean up their sloppy play if they want to come out with a win in their matchup with the Titans next week.
A Mismatch from the Start –
The Texans and the Titans played three times last season and the Texans were the victors in two out of the three games. The last game was a close one all throughout that sent the winner to the AFC championship. The Texans ultimately lost in that game to the Patriots, but the Titans hadn’t forgotten who knocked them out of the playoffs last season. The Texans forced an early stop on the first drive of the Titans but were unable to take advantage and put up points with their first drive. The Titans scored a touchdown on the proceeding drive and ran away with the game. The Texans gave the ball away seven times that led to a 51-15 blowout loss that could come back to bite them around playoff seedings time.
Deshaun Watson was a pitiful 17 of 31 for 216 yards with 0 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Watson has a ratio of 2 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He threw 31 interceptions a season ago and is on pace for 59 interceptions to end the season. The Texans have focused their offensive scheme towards taking a run heavy approach. Coach Bull has a tendency to run out of both heavy and spread formations which is something we didn’t see in his arsenal last season. The Texans rushed for over one hundred yards in this game, but ultimately it was the lack of defense and the turnovers that led them astray. The Texans went 9-0 before suffering their first loss last season but could only make it to 2-0 before suffering their first this season. The Texans will have to shake this game off because they’re up against a solid Dolphin’s team that has to avoid a 1-3 start.
Roby to the Rescue –
Deshaun Watson had one of the worst performances of his career last week against the Titans. The Texans came into this game with the mindset of keeping the game close and relying on their defense to bail them out. The Texan’s defense has been very solid this season, apart from last week’s game. The Texan’s defense is statistically in the top 10 of the league in points allowed and rushing yards allowed and this game was no different. The lead was exchanged a few times during the game but it was Bradley Roby’s terrific play that sealed the game for the Texans in the fourth quarter. Roby was playing the sidelines the entire play and almost abandoned his assignment when a wide receiver crossed the field in front of him, but his safety help was able to defend that receiver and Roby made a play on the ball that was seemingly thrown right to him. Roby finished the game with two huge interceptions and the Texans moved to 3-1 after a 28-17 victory over the Dolphins.
The Texan’s offensive attack remained balanced throughout this game with 24 carries on the ground and 24 attempts through the air. Javian Hawkins is averaging almost 23 carries a game through the first four weeks of the season and he has ran for over 100 yards in each of those games. He is a breakout rookie of the year candidate and a player to watch for in the MVP race later this season. The Texans still have a lot of work ahead of them but they head into their second divisional game of the season next week against the Titans. It’s anyone’s guess as to why these two teams are playing twice in three weeks, but that’s madden scheduling for you. The Texans have been preparing all week and are heading into week 5 with a different game plan that is sure to net different results than week three’s game.