2018 Season Recap: Houston Texans

2018 SEASON RECAP: HOUSTON TEXANS

Division: AFC South

Record: 11-5 (4-2 Division) (1st in AFC South) (Lost in Wildcard Round)

Statistics

Category Stat Average League Ranking
Total DVOA 7.1%   11th
Total Yards 5802 362.6 15th
Passing Yards 3781 326.3 17th
Rushing Yards 2021 126.3 8th
Total Points 402 25.1 11th
Yards Allowed 5490 343.1 12th
Passing Allowed 4167 260.4 28th
Rushing Allowed 1323 82.7 3rd
Points Allowed 316 19.8 T-4th
Giveaways 16    
Takeaways 29    
Turnover Differential +13   2nd

2019 Draft

Round Overall
1 23
2 54
2 55 (from Seattle)
3 86
5 161
6 195
7 220

Notable Free Agents

Name Position Previous Salary/ Year
Demaryius Thomas WR $14MM
Kareem Jackson CB $8.5MM
Jadeveon Clowney DE/OLB $15.9MM
Tyrann Mathieu S $7MM
Seantrel Henderson RT $4.5MM
Kevin Johnson CB $2.5MM
Brian Peters ILB $900,000
Angelo Blackson DE $1.2MM
Brandon Weeden QB $790,000
Christian Covington DE $592,000
Alfred Blue RB $880,000
Ka'imi Fairbairn RFA K $542,000
Brennan Scarlett RFA OLB $541,000

Pro Bowlers

  • Jadeveon Clowney
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Lamar Miller
  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • JJ Watt
  • Bernardrick McKinney

ALL-PRO

  • DeAndre Hopkins 1st team
  • JJ Watt 1st Team
  • Kareem Jackson 2nd team

Weekly Game Recaps

Coming into the 2018 season the Houston Texans had both hope and worry on their minds. Star players like Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt were returning to the lineup after suffering season ending injuries a season earlier. The Texans entered the off season with a list of glaring needs and not much draft capital to fill those needs. Add a first Year GM in Brian Gaine to the mix and no one was sure how they would be able to do it. After missing out on top free agent LT Nate Solder(thank goodness) the Texans added 3 mid level FA lineman in Kelemete, Fulton, and Henderson. They also added S Tyrann Mathieu and CB Aaron Colvin along with resigning CB Jonathan Joseph to bolster an aging secondary.

With a rebuilt O-Line and a healthy QB1 in Deshaun Watson, Houston entered the season with a strong but cautious optimism.

Houston entered the season hoping to make a statement in Foxboro. They didn't have the result they wanted, but it was an accurate preview of the season. Houston started their game as they would many this season, with a slow start made harder by mental mistakes. Deshaun Watson fumbled the first snap on offense, which led to a quick 7 for New England. Tom Brady was sharp early, going for 3 TD/ 1 INT and over 65% completions. Brady did throw an early pick, but Houston was only able to get 3 points from it. Watson was sacked 3 times with a total of 12 QB hits and committed 2 turnovers. The game never really felt as close as the final score.

Hoping to Bounce back against a divisional opponent, Houston headed to Tennessee to face former DC Mike Vrabel in his head coaching job. Vrabel's aggressiveness paid off in the 1st quarter on a fake punt pass that went the distance. Not only was Houston unprepared for a fake, but the deep man took a horrible angle that allowed the TD. Again a mental error cost Houston early. Watson was harassed in the pocket again for 4 more sacks. Tennessee took a 14-7 lead into the half. Watson led a drive with a TD to DeAndre Hopkins to go up 17-14 late. Titans then have 2 FG drives to lead 20-17. With one last shot with time running out, Watson looked like rookie. On the final play, DW4 held the ball entirely too long, crossed the line of scrimmage while scrambling, and passed to the middle of the field with time running out. It was a bad play to an otherwise good game for the young QB.

Week 3, home opener. The stage was set for Houston to turn it around. The 0-2 Giants came to Houston hoping to do the same. Houston scored a FG to open the game before allowing a huge TD run to rookie Saquon Barkley. Barkley showed power and elusiveness as he led NY to an early 7-3 lead. JJ Watt had his "I'm Back" game with 3 sacks and a FF, but that was not enough to keep NY from jumping to an 20-6 halftime lead. Watson fought through another 3 sack game to lead Houston to 2 4th quarter TDs, but it wasn't enough to overcome a slow start.

Houston finally had a strong start, but many fans felt it was too late after beginning the season 0-3. On a day in which DW4 was sacked 7 times, the Texans jumped to an early 21-10 lead to go into the half. After Houston made it 28-10, Andrew luck stormed his team back to push a 31-31 game into OT. TY Hilton went off, as Texans fans have had to watch all too often. JJ added 2 more sacks on the day. Both teams scored FG's in OT, but a questionable 4th down play by the Colts set the stage for Watson and Hopkins to connect to get the team in FG range. Fairbairn hits the game winner with less than a minute in OT to give the Texans their first win of the season.

Coming off of their first win, Houston felt like their offense had finally started to click. That did not continue as the Texans scored 1 TD to 4 FGs. Sometimes that can be enough when your defense plays well. Hopkins had a huge game and Houston was able to move the ball, just unable to punch in TDs. A field goal fest from both teams led to a 16-16 score going into OT. Hopkins then proceeding to mash the circle button as he spun his way into the hearts of America on national TV. Houston kicks the game winner to make it 2 in a row.

2 in a row with a chance to even their record, Houston hosted the Josh Allen led Bills on Battle Red Day. Buffalo's defense came early and often, getting to Watson 7 times. Houston was unable to move the ball for most of the day. Josh Allen left the game injured and Nathan Peterman relieved him. Houston was able to cause 2 Peterman INT's and maintain a 20-13 lead. If josh Allen was able to finish the game, I don't feel great about Houston's chances. Then again, a win is a win. back to .500.

With the amount of hits that Watson had sustained, he had a partially collapsed lung. That did not stop him from taking a bus ride all the way to Florida to face off against the Jags. Watson was kept mostly clean, only being sacked once. Houston jumped on the flailing Jaguars to a 20-0 lead. This game never really felt close. Texans win 4 in a row.

Primetime Football in Houston. Riding high on a 4 game win streak, Houston would not be slowed down on this night. Fans were foaming at the mouth to scream at Osweiller and NRG Stadium was rocking. This was Houston's best overall game. Watson was not sacked while throwing for 5 TD's, including 2 to Hopkins. Will Fuller played great before tearing his ACL. For the first time all season, the Texans felt like a legit contender. Huge win, 42-13.

After losing Will Fuller for the season, Houston aquired Demaryius Thomas from the Denver Broncos. Strangely enough, DT's first game as a Texans came against his former team, only days after the trade. DT came out hot with 2 big catches on the opening drive that was capped of with a pass to rookie TE Jordan Thomas. Denver missed a late 2nd quarter FG only to allow Houston to capitalize and make it a 16-10 game at half. Keenum found the endzone in the 3rd quarter to make it 17-16. Houston answered back in the 4th with a FG. Down 2 with a chance, Keenum put his team in position to kick a game winner from 51yds. Luck was on Houston's side again as the kick sailed wide with time expiring. DT's homecoming was a good one. Watson was sacked another 4 times.

Fresh off of the bye, Houston started fast. Hopkins scored a TD in the 1st and rookie S Justin Reid had a 101 yd pick six. A second Alex Smith INT led to 3 more points and a 17-7 halftime lead. Watson finished with a rocky stat line of 1 TD/ 2 INT/ 3 sacks/ 1 FF. Alex Smith went down with a devastating leg injury that reminded so many Redskins fans of the injury to former QB Joe Theismann. Colt McCoy fought the Redskins back with the help of an Adrian Peterson rushing TD, but for the 2nd time in 2 games Houston was lucky to win on another last second missed FG.

Houston hosted the Titans looking to revenge their week 2 loss. the Titans jumped to an early 10-0 lead, but Houston controlled the game from that point on. DT scored early to make it 10-7. Watson added a 15 rush TD. The play of the game, and maybe year, belonged to RB Lamar Miller. After the defense stopped the Titans on 4th and Goal, Miller ripped a run for 97 yds and a TD. Houston never looked back on the way to a 34-17 win.

These are not your old Browns anymore. Baker Mayfield had them believing in bigger things as they came to Houston. Unfortunately for them, the Texans secondary confused Mayfield all day. Forcing 3 INTS on the day, Houston jumped to a 23-0 start and never looked back. Baker moved the ball well, proving why he was drafted #1, but had too many mistakes and was unable to put up points. Houston wins 29-13.

After starting 0-3, Houston was in play for a first round bye. Indy was still in contention for the division. TY Hilton showed everyone that NRG stadium is in fact, his. Hilton went off for 9 catches and 199 yds, continuing his trend of big games in Houston. DW4 was sacked 4 times. Houston fought hard throughout this game. On a big 3rd down in the 4th quarter, Luck's snap count caused Clowney to jump off-sides and allowed the Colts to run out the clock. And just like that, Houston's lead in the Division shrank along with their hopes of a first round bye.

After their first loss since week 3, Houston went to New York to face the Jets. Watson was sacked 6 times, but managed to stay efficient with 22 for 28/ 294 yds/ 2 TD. JJ Watt had a huge game with 2 sacks and a FF. Houston could not run all day. Miller and Blue combined for 12 carries and 14 yards. After the Jets took a 22-19 lead late in the game, Hopkins made an incredible catch to take it back. On the Jets last drive, Clowney sacked rookie QB Sam Darnold to force a 4th and 18 the Jets could not overcome. Texans win 29-22

Despite the recent loss to the Colts, Houston had a chance to jump ahead in the AFC and take the 1 seed. All they had to do is go to Philly and beat the defending champs, led by the defending Super Bowl MVP. Watson was sacked 4 times but still managed 4 TDs (2 pass, 2 rush). Houston's RBs could never get going, combining for 13 yards on 11 carries. A Watson fumble in the 4th while down 7 led to another Philly TD to make it 29-16 with a missed PAT. Houston fought back with 2 TD drives in the 4th, but could not stop Nick Foles from leading his team into position to kick a game winner. Luck leaned towards Philly as the kick was good. Instead of being the 1 or 2 seed, Houston found themselves needing a week 17 win to clinch the division.

Last week of the season and Houston has to win to take the division. The Jags defense did their part, bringing down Watson 6 times. Luckily for Houston, Hopkins had 12 catches for 147 yds as the Texans beat the Jags 20-7 to win the AFC South.

Like so many games this season, Houston started poorly and had to play catch up. TY Hilton made himself at home again in NRG stadium as the Colts came out firing. Houston was unable to bring down Luck as he led his team to a 9-14 3rd down conversion rate, compared to Houston's 3-13 on 3rd down. Houston was down early and had to pass to stay alive, with only 8 carries by RBs in the game. Indianapolis cruised to a 21-7 win in which the Texans never found a rhythm.

Offseason Additions

Player Position Thoughts 2017 Team
Senio Kelemete LG Started 14 games, missing 2 for injury. Saints
Zach Fulton RG Started 13 games. Chiefs
Seantrel Henderson OT Signed for depth, but won the starting role before getting injured in game 1. Bills
Tyrann Mathieu S Team leader. nose for Big plays. Huge emotional driver for the team. Hopefully we can keep him. Cardinals
Aaron Colvin CB Played well below expectation. Healthy scratch on for some games. Jaguars
Johnson Bademosi CB Depth. No real splash plays. Patriots

Big Re-signings

Jonathan Joseph CB Strong veteran leader.
Alfred Blue RB Solid RB2/ short yardage back.
Greg Mancz OG Young depth lineman. We need all we can get.

Big Losses

CJ Fiedorowicz TE Concussion History. Retirement
Brian Cushing LB Cap casualty/ younger players stepping up
Tom Savage QB Time to move on. Weeden looked like solid/cheaper QB2.
Xavier Sua'filo OG Never met expectations. Cheaper options available.

2018 Draft

Player College Position Round(overall) Thoughts
Justin Reid Stanford S 3(68) Established himself as starter. Has a knack for big plays.
Martinas Rankins Mississippi State C 3(80) Started 4 games and had 5 penalties. Depth guy that can hopefully develop.
Jordan Akins Central Florida TE 3(98) Good blocking TE. Needs to be more consistent to upend Ryan Griffin for playing time.
Keke Coutee Texas Tech WR 4(103) The ultimate tease. Top end speed and elusiveness, can't seem to stay healthy. Played 6 games. 28 catches for 287 and 1 TD. Was one of the only players to do well in wild card game with 11 catches for 110 and 1 TD.
Duke Ejiofor Wake Forest DE 6(177) Solid rotation player. Can hopefully develop into starter. Played 14 games and had 1 sack.
Jordan Thomas Mississippi State TE 6(211) Had 4 red zone TDs. Solid young player. With experience he should be a solid red zone target.
Peter Kalambayi Stanford OLB 6(214) Played in 15 games. 7 tackles as a rotational player.
Jermaine Kelly San Jose State CB 7(222) Placed on IR on Sept 3rd. We will see this year

Coaching Staff

Bill O'Brien HC/OC
Romeo Crennell DC/ Assistant HC
Brad Seely Special Teams Coordinator
Danny Barrett RB
Mike Devlin OL
Tim Kelly TE
Bobby King ILB
Will Lawing Offensive Assistant/OL
D'Anton LynnAS Assistant DB
Anthony Midget DB
Matt O'Donnell Defensive Quality
John Pagano OLB
John Perry WR
Luke Richesson Sports Performance
Sean Ryan QB
Tracy Smith Assistant ST
Anthony Weaver DL
Wes Welker Assistant offensive coach

The biggest change of the offseason was the departure of DC Mike Vrabel for the Tennessee Titans HC job. Former DC Romeo Crennell Returned as DC from his role as assistant HC.

The Texans also changed their strength and conditioning staff.

Needs

Offensive Line

Watson was sacked a whopping 62 times in 2018. Texans are expected to address their tackle situation early in the draft.

FA's available

  • Trent Brown
  • Daryl Williams
  • Matt Feiler

Defensive Backs

FA's available

  • Ronald Darby
  • Steve Nelson
  • Bryce Callahan
  • Bradley Roby
  • Earl Thomas
  • Tashaun Gipson

Running Back

FA's Available

  • Mark Ingram
  • T.J. Yeldon

Quarterback

FA's Available

  • Tyrod Taylor
  • Teddy Bridgewater
  • Mike Glennon
  • RG3

There are more Free Agents Available than I listed, But Houston is not usually a big FA spender.

Final Thoughts

The Houston Texans entered 2018 not knowing what to expect. Stars returning from injury were key to the teams success, and they mostly stayed healthy. Watson had an impressive sophomore season despite being sacked 62 times. JJ Watt returned to dominating form and Hopkins established himself as a top WR. If Houston can improve its OL and secondary, it is hard to imagine them slipping. That being said, the schedule should be harder as we are playing a 1st place schedule instead of 4th place like this year. With Andrew Luck Being back and the Titans looking strong under Vrabel, the AFC South is anything but a lock.

My Prediction for this year is a 10-6 season, but a minimum of a divisional round appearance for Watson and the Gang. Although their win total may go down, I believe they will be a much stronger team this year. Matchups against the AFC West and NFC South will result in less wins, but a team more prepared for playoff level talent.

Thanks!

Thank you to anyone that takes the time to read this. I gave it my best shot! And while my writing may not be as good as some of the other posters in this series, I hope I gave some non Texan fans some good insight into this team.

GO TEXANS!

Edit: This was finished just before Free Agency, so some things have surely changed.