Another year, another sweep of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Some things change like the constant rolling of waves, others demand to stay the same. Refusing to be eroded by time and a season’s collapse, the Texans’ routine victory against their eastern opponent felt like a return to normalcy.
In a season, in a week, in a year defined by the unexpected, Sunday’s game against Jacksonville was a much needed reprieve. It’s certainly difficult to call it a reprieve due to the late game heroics of rookie quarterback Jake Luton out of Oregon State, who finished the game with over 300 yards passing and 2 total touchdowns. As if the pages had been turned back to Week 1 of 2019, a rookie sixth-round pick from the PAC-12 was playing quarterback for the Jaguars, and performing admirably when very little was expected. Unfortunately, history could not prevent its own demise, and the Texans were able to close the game out with a failed two-point attempt and onside kick try.
Speaking of eerily similar events and past history, where were we last year? Why, beating the Jaguars, of course! In a London special, the Texans thumped Jacksonville 26-3 in a statement victory for the team. The offense was humming on the ground and through the air, and the defense was powerful and suffocating. One of the high marks of the 2019 season, the Texans made it abundantly clear they were one of the elite AFC clubs. We’re not quite that this year, but the most important things of stayed the same, right?
Here’s what Dan Hanzus had to say about the Texans in week 10 of 2019:
9. Houston Texans (2019): 6-3
Previous rank:*No. 8*
The Texans suffered a critical blow when J.J. Watt was lost for the season with a torn pec, but the defense delivered an excellent effort without the star against the Jaguars. Romeo Crennel’s unit pressured Gardner Minshew into four turnovers — all in the fourth quarter — and finished with four sacks in a 26-3 win at Wembley Stadium. Houston stuffed Jacksonville’s all-important running game and got a huge performance from the offensive line, which was missing star left tackle Laremy Tunsil but allowed just one sack of Deshaun Watson and helped Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson rumble for 241 scrimmage yards. Speaking of Watson, his right eye still doesn’t look right after he took that cleat to the face in Week 8, but the quarterback delivered another crisp, turnover-free performance that included some more of those Houdini escape routines that have become his calling card. Houston is the team to beat in the AFC South.
Pretty much the opposite record of what we had last year, the 2020 Texans are a living example of how fast your fortune can change in the NFL. Hemorrhaging talent on defense, trading away one of the best receivers in the game, and getting a stacked schedule doesn’t help, either. But, we’ve been through that song and dance plenty of times this season already, today’s a day the celebrate how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here’s where the Texans are ranked in Week Ten:
27. Houston Texans (2-6)
Week 9 ranking: 26
Recalibrated expectation: Evaluate young talent for the future
With no reason to tank (they already traded their first- and second-round picks), the Texans are focused on finishing the season with a winning record under interim head coach Romeo Crennel (they’re 2-2 since he took over). Houston’s biggest goal is to evaluate the talent it has on the roster as there are several key players — most notably wide receiver Will Fuller and defensive end J.J. Watt — whom a new general manager and coach will have to make decisions on this offseason. The Texans don’t believe they need to rebuild despite their record, but they do need to determine what players they can retool around in the future. — Sarah Barshop
26. Houston Texans (2-6)
Previous rank: No. 26
The Texans decided to hold on to Will Fuller at the trade deadline. After a 27-25 winin which Fuller flashed his elite playmaking skills on a 77-yard touchdown, Deshaun Watson expressed relief that his No. 1 wideout was still a teammate. “It would have been hell if they would have did that, for sure,” Watson said. The pair has undeniable chemistry, and Fuller — currently in the final year of his rookie deal — has managed to stay healthy while producing touchdowns in six straight games, breaking the franchise record previously held by DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans made a huge mistake when they let Hopkins out of the building — they should think long and hard about allowing Fuller to follow suit.
23. Houston Texans (2-6)
They won at Jacksonville, but barely winning against a first-time rookie starter isn’t something to brag about. They aren’t good at all on defense.
PRO FOOTBALL TALK:
28. Texans (No. 29; 2-6): If not for wins against a really bad team, the Texans would have no wins at all.
27. Houston Texans (2-6)
28. Houston Texans (2–6)
Points in poll: 37
Highest-place vote: 25 (1)
Lowest-place vote: 28 (2)
Last week: Win at Jacksonville 27–25
Next week: at Browns
The Texans have had an absolutely brutal schedule so far. Even if they have dug themselves too deep a hole in the AFC playoff picture, the ought to be better in the second half.
24. Houston Texans (2-6)
Last Week: 28
Week 9 Result: Won 27-25 at Jacksonville
A two-point win over a terrible Jacksonville Jaguars team doesn’t change the disastrous trajectory of the 2020 season for the Houston Texans.
So, let’s talk about defensive end J.J. Watt, who became the fourth-fastest player in league history to tally 100 career sacks on Sunday.
In typical Watt fashion, he took little credit for the achievement while speaking to teammates in the locker room, per Matt Young of the Houston Chronicle.
“A hundred sacks is great, but that’s a whole bunch of teammates, coaches, coverages, D-linemen, linebackers, that’s a whole bunch of people, training staff, cafeteria staff, a whole lot of people helping me make that happen. So, while I may get a lot of media attention today for this, just know that it’s because of you, it’s because of everybody who helped make it happen. It’s never just about one person, so I want to say thank you. I appreciate it.”
Per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Watt will almost certainly be traded in the offseason after he made it clear that he isn’t interested in participating in a rebuild.
So, enjoy these last eight games with the greatest player in Texans history, Houston fans.
25. Houston Texans (2-6, LW: 26)
J.J. Watt got his 100th career sack in his 120th game. Only Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, DeMarcus Ware and Bruce Smith got to No. 100 faster. That’s a heck of a list.
Some analysts didn’t move us at all since it was a close victory against the other worst team in football, while others are excited to see how the Texans respond to an easier schedule. Here’s my own power rankings to finish this recap:
- Pittsburgh Steelers (Last Week: 1)
- Kansas City Chiefs (Last Week: 2)
- Buffalo Bills (Last Week: 6)
- Baltimore Ravens (Last Week: 5)
- Tennessee Titans (Last Week: 7)
- New Orleans Saints (Last Week: 10)
- Green Bay Packers (Last Week: 8)
- Seattle Seahawks (Last Week: 4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Week: 3)
- Las Vegas Raiders (Last Week: 13)
- Arizona Cardinals (Last Week: 9)
- Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 15)
- Indianapolis Colts (Last Week: 11)
- Cleveland Browns (Last Week: 14)
- Los Angeles Rams (Last Week: 16)
- Chicago Bears (Last Week: 12)
- Philadelphia Eagles (Last Week: 17)
- Cincinnati Bengals (Last Week: 19)
- Minnesota Vikings (Last Week: 26)
- Carolina Panthers (Last Week: 20)
- Los Angeles Chargers (Last Week: 21)
- Atlanta Falcons (Last Week: 25)
- Denver Broncos (Last Week: 18)
- New England Patriots (Last Week: 24)
- Detroit Lions (Last Week: 23)
- Houston Texans (Last Week: 27)
- San Francisco 49ers (Last Week: 22)
- New York Giants (Last Week: 28)
- Dallas Cowboys (Last Week: 29)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week: 30)
- Washington Football Team (Last Week: 31)
- New York Jets (Last Week: 32)
I try not to overreact to each week’s upsets and thrilling finishes, believing massive swings in the rankings reveal a lack of confidence in previous placement. This was one of the hardest weeks to maintain that habit. The Vikings and Falcons continue to surge and are playing much better than the company they are surrounded by, but I still believe those teams are a few wins away from being in serious contention for a playoff spot.
I thought the Broncos had finally found their footing after such an amazing comeback against the Chargers, but when going against another team in desperation mode, they could not finish the job. The Chargers, on the other hand, continue to be the best team in the NFL when it comes to finding a way to lose. They’ve lost via overtime field goals, failed trick plays, missing a game-winning field goal, completely forgetting how to play defense for an entire quarter to seal a comeback defeat, and now dropping a game-winning touchdown. Is there any other heart-wrenching way to lose? Maybe next week they’ll copy off of Atlanta’s notes and we’ll see them give up an onside kick that’ll lead to a miraculous loss, or an accidental touchdown that gives the opposing offense time to march downfield and win the game. This will be a season for the ages for Chargers fans as they watch a rookie first round quarterback play like an MVP whilst the rest of the team does absolutely everything it can to make sure it doesn’t matter.
Speaking of which, watch the end of that Jets/Patriots game again. The Jets did exactly everything wrong at the exact right time in order to give the Patriots a shot at victory. The Jets could’ve taken a knee and burned clock every one of their possessions in the fourth quarte and would have likely won.
Only the Jets.