Most of the Texans’ 2020 NFL season was either really sad, or really bad, or a combination of both. That being said, there were little globs of good things, like Rivers getting @’d by Justin Reid, Eric Murray trying to cover Davante Adams, Deshaun Watson throwing from empty sets, the ridiculous losses to Indy and Tennessee, Watson’s Thanksgiving Day performance that got Matt Patricia fired, and of course, the end of the Bill O’Brien era.
Of all the Houston Texans things that happened in 2020, which one was your favorite? This is the question I asked the masthead, these are their answers:
When the season ended.
The best moment of 2020 was hands down getting to see O’Brien get the can. The elation and rush that came from seeing BR’s notification that it was in motion was weirdly similar to when the Astros won the 2017 World Series (suck it, haters). Of course, no one could see the absolute mountain of feces that we were quickly approaching but it was a beautiful moment nonetheless. I can’t wait to watch Alabama run the ball 85 times per game and still decimate the country. BOB will look like a genius and will become Texas’ new head coach in two or three years. This is the way.
I want to say it was the day Bill O’Brien was fired. But considering everything that has transpired since then, BOB’s firing feels more like we opened Pandora’s septic tank and now we have to watch the three blind mice manage the cleanup operation. With that out of the running, I’d say my favorite pure moment was the Texans game on Thanksgiving where we watched Deshaun Watson, who we love very much and wish would stay in Houston, play a game for the ages with Will Fuller and the rest of the receiving corps.
Watching Watson orchestrate the offense, it was the last time this season where I really felt like things might be okay. We had a generational talent at quarterback, a head coaching job with some great candidates coming up in the carousel, and the possibility of a decent general manager to help navigate through the salary cap hell the team is expected to be this offseason.
And then Jack Easterby stepped in, brought in his own GM, pissed off one of the nicest people, by all accounts, on the team, and hired a coach that Steve Smith said had an eye for talent like Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles, which made any hope of things being okay next season like Cal McNair’s intellect: nonexistent.
WILL NO ONE RID ME OF THIS MEDDLESOME PRIEST?!
The way this season played out, I am not sure there really was a “favorite” part. When BO’B was fired, it seemed like the Texans understood that things were bad and they would take the right steps to clear out the rot and that the recovery wouldn’t take too long. How naive and hopeful was that thinking.
Yet, I was most amused in the way that only a classic Texans fan could be with the “entertaining” losses. Think back to the pre-2011 Texans. They were always so close to glory, were always competitive...and usually found a way to come up short. 2013 was like that. 2020 got us back to those days. Yeah, the team suffered some horrendous beatdowns (with Chicago being the worst). However, so many of the games came down to the final plays...and the Texans not only found a way to lose, but were creative and entertaining in doing so (David Johnson’s stupendous fumble against Green Bay, the nail-biter losses against Tennessee, the derp-tastic goal-line fumbles against Indianapolis, the team allowing Nick Chubb to go for a 50 yard plus run only to stop at the 1 to ice the game).
That one short week in Nov when the Texans beat the Patriots and then turned around to beat the Lions on Thanksgiving may be the last good on-field stretch the team may see for a while. Now, the Texans want to be the NFL version of the Titanic, only the Titanic had a better orchestra and arguably better leadership.
For me the highlight was realizing Deshaun Watson was pulling together the best season out of any quarterback in the league. Loved seeing him put all the detractors behind him (where are all the “insufficient pitch speed” guys who were slamming him before he was drafted?). Unfortunately, Jack Easterby had to go and ruin that one silver lining in the dark cloud of 2020... thanks, Jack!
While getting rid of Bill O’Brien was a plus, it should have been done immediately following the playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. And, when he went out the door, all his people should have gone with him. Seeing it happen at 0-4, then seeing no one else who was part of O’Brien’s braintrust make an exit on his coattails was the prelude to ruin we’re all seeing unfold before our eyes right now.
This certainly has been the hardest season in recent memory. Even the most recent 2–14 season had reasons to be happy. Jadeveon Clowney would join the team and people truly saw the season as a blip rather than a prolonged drought. At the moment, we haven’t still hit rock bottom yet. The resignation of President Jamey Rootes is another couple of shovels deeper into the ground. Not only that, but the Watson saga continues, we have little draft capital, and the Texans may see an exodus in free agency.
To answer the prompt as best as I can, the development of Brandin Cooks into the offense was a pleasure to watch at the end of the season. There were only one or two games where both Will Fuller and Cooks were playing at an elite level, but you finally got to see what O’Brien’s dream offense was supposed to be. Cooks was an addition that surprised me, as I would have preferred to use the 2nd round draft pick we traded away (GETTING ANGRY AGAIN) on a rookie receiver instead of Cooks, but it proved to be a rather solid decision.
Depending on where Watson and Fuller go, Cooks could be a valuable asset to the offense moving forward. He has said publicly that he likes the city and wants to continue his career here, and that is something we don’t hear often in this neighborhood.
Don’t forget, this is all Bill O’Brien’s fault. Every bit of it. The talent drain on the roster, the 4-12 season, wasting Deshaun Watson’s rookie contract, the charlatan who is running things now, all of it, O’Brien is responsible for, he’s the reason why the Houston Texans are the empty husk they are now.
The 2020 NFL season was successful for the Houston Texans simply because O’Brien was fired. For years he puttered around the quarterback position, wasting J.J. Watt’s prime, and turned what could have been a great Texans team into a mediocre team. With Watson at the helm, he never came close to putting together an offense that maximized his skill set. He sold the team’s soul to go up 24-0 against Kansas City, a fool’s gold lead thanks to blocked and muffed punts, only to piss it away with a COWARD’s field goal and a straight jacket fake punt. The same one possession luck that made Houston 11-5 last year, flipped over to make them 4-12 this year. This was never a great team under O’Brien’s watch, despite the talent, and then the franchise quarterback he was handed over.
The past wasn’t good. Even if it ends up being better than the Pisces present we are currently living in. Don’t wallow in nostalgia, that sick and yellowing thing. 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, these were all limited seasons, where there was a better present out there than the one the team resided in, a reality they were never able to get to because of who the head coach was.
O’Brien’s dismissal was the best part of this season far and away. The 0-4 start. The red button Jack Easterby guided Cal McNair’s fat finger onto. We celebrated on the podcast. I kissed those I loved. It was a grand and beautiful day.
That was the pinnacle of the 2020 season, and since then it’s been falling action. The hope and sentiment then was Houston would nail their head coach hire, find someone who could build an offense that gets the most out of Watson, and then, maybe, just maybe, if they hit on their free agent signings, develop the internal talent that the previous administration failed, and if one or two starters were found in the draft, the Texans would be right back in the postseason picture.
This was too much to ask for. Too mush optimism. Nodding off that hopium. These are the Houston Texans. Always expect the worse.
Instead, McNair lied to Watson, Watson wants out, David Culley is here to keep morale high during the rebuild, and this is Jack Easterby’s team. My hands are monkey paws dumbly foundling the keys.
Don’t miss 2018. Miss week four 2020. That was when there were beautiful, alternative futures, glorious things around the corner. The zenith, the peak, the cream, and now this, well this isn’t even a football team.