The bye week has arrived for the Houston Texans and its fans so we can all sit back to catch a breath from this crazy, calming and frustrating season, depending on how you look at it. For an offense that made quite a few changes in the offseason it has not resulted in the expected results by currently ranking near the bottom of the league in that area. As injuries continue to plague the team players from both sides of the ball have stepped up this year. And after all of that, the Texans remain on top of their division.
Somehow, even after seemingly solving the quarterback situation this year, the Texans have another issue at that position. The big talk coming into the season was wondering if QB Brock Osweiler was even worth the $72 million contract he signed. Everything seemed to going good in the beginning, but losses to the New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos – Osweiler’s former team – exposed the team drastically.
But even outside of those defeats, those performances contributed to the lower-tiered rankings. So far this season, the Texans have ranked near the bottom of the league in overall yards (30th), passing (29th) and scoring (31st). It’s not like they’re devoid of any talent. The tight ends are more involved in the offense this year than last. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ryan Griffin and Stephen Anderson have made contributions to the offense that were missing last season, and it has made a huge difference. Despite his start, DeAndre Hopkins is still threatening to defenses with his 40 catches for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns; but right behind Nothing to indicate there has been an effective improvement on the offensive side of the ball.
For all the pessimism that has been associated with the offense this year, the defense has managed to shine through its own darkness. Coming into the season, defensive end J.J. Watt was expected to miss the first few games of the season because of a back surgery, but suddenly found himself healthy enough return. That did not last long as he was placed on IR aggravating the injury after the Patriots game.
However, it led to the quiet emergence of 2014 number one 1 pick Jedeveon Clowney. Since being drafted, Clowney has had a number of injuries that has prevented him from living up to the defensive force he was projected to be alongside Watt. In stead his stat line (30 tackles and 3 sacks) has his doubters taking notice. Fans are also noticing the rise of LB Whitney Mercilus, who has 30 tackles and 4.5 sacks this year. In addition to Mercilus and Clowney, the secondary has fought through a mountain of injuries to become top 5 against the pass.
Despite the ups and downs of the offense, there is much to look forward to when the the season resumes. Osweiler is making small improvements, as evidenced by last week’s performance. Defense continues to improve as well as Clowney is remaining at healthy while playing at a high level. The AFC South is constantly nosediving each week, so this is a great time to take advantage and finish out with a division win for a trip to the postseason, and redeem last season’s playoff performance. These next 8 games are the perfect time for the Texans to build something for a strong playoff run.