There are few things to pull from this game and to extend to others. The only aspect that can be extended out into the future is Houston manufacturing Deshaun Watson as a runner, something clamored about to start the season and something that died when Watson got hurt but has now been resurrected. It worked. The zone reads and power plays jolted an impotent rushing offense like blue pills.
Other than that, there isn’t much to see here about the future. Instead of big things, there were neat little things to help us deal with the three hours we wasted waiting for the inevitable. J.J. Watt spraypainted his 2018 statistics gold by working a fourth-string right tackle. DeAndre Hopkins had the best game of his career against Jalen Ramsey and his gallows mouthpiece. Andre Hal caught another pop fly interception. Blake Bortles played his last game as a Jaguar against Houston. Bortles completed 15 of his 28 passes for 89 net yards, averaging 3.8 yards an attempt. Even [NAME REDACTED] would say, “Ooooo Blake, that’s bad. You gotta do better than that.”
The only thing that mattered was that the Texans won. They beat down one of the three worst offenses in the NFL. They smashed them. They pulverized, obliterated, vivisected, shredded, crushed, and decimated the Jaguars. As a result, the Texans won the AFC South and now get to play the Colts. The Week 17 AFC South Championship Game I’ve always wanted will have to wait until next year.
To go from 0-3 to 11-5 was spectacular. What was thought to be a lame season that would kill off Bill O’Brien will instead be carried into the playoffs. Playoff football is better than no playoff football. While last year’s team evaporated with Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt’s injuries, this team resurrected itself to go on a nine-game winning streak and ended up where they should have been all along.
Next weekend is talk for a different time in a different year. Now is the time to savor Houston winning the greatest prize in all of sport—an AFC South Championship. Go buy your t-shirts. Go buy your hats. That 2011 AFC South Champions t-shirt in your closet flies forever, just like your 2018 one will.
One time, I had some questionable BBQ for lunch and then promptly pooped my pants (and got it on my socks and shoes) trying to hurry to the bathroom as I got back to the office.
For some reason, this game reminded me of that.
For the 85,476th time, the Houston Texans started off the 2018 season 0-3. Today, the team finishes the season 11-5, going 11-2 after the opening trio. Perhaps the biggest thanks goes to the pillow-soft schedule, as the Texans played a bunch of teams that generally suck and, most importantly, couldn’t throw the ball downfield.
Of course, the Texans should have never started the season 0-3. Nor should the Texans’ offense be at 21st by DVOA. Even with Deshaun Watson as the quarterback, it was the Texans’ defense that pulled the team up by the boot straps this year. Again. Romeo Crennel’s squad did it again, and Deshaun Watson saved Bill O’Brien’s job.
So the Texans head into the postseason, with a 25 point/game “juggernot” of an offense. That won’t do in the playoffs, and if we face Indy in the first round, we might be out early (I would have liked our chances much more against the BE-SFs, who must run the ball to succeed).
As for today’s game? 20 points by the offense, and the defense would have thrown a shutout except for the muffed punt. For a Marvin O’Brain squad, it was pretty much the usual.
Jalen Ramsey versus DeAndre Hopkins pic.twitter.com/N27RRmQFjy— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) December 30, 2018
I’m just so thankful that none of Houston’s stars were injured in today’s game and they secured another banner for NRG Stadium. The game was better than I expected, but unnecessarily risky. O’Brien is really tough to understand.
Hopkins owned Jalen Ramsay, and Watt owned Blake Bortles. Kareem Jackson was as amazing as Davenportal was ethereal.
All is well in the world. On to the postseason!
Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins pic.twitter.com/ZydmsWG6rP— Brian T. Smith (@ChronBrianSmith) December 30, 2018
It’s hard to get past a knee-jerk bad reaction to the ugly wins, but in the end the history books will show the Texans finished at 11-5 and hosted a playoff game if nothing else. They did it with some seriously hardcore handicaps from the 0-3 start, as they lost WR2, WR3, and WR4 while Deshaun Watson still managed to put himself further into NFL history by becoming the first QB in history to throw for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns while rushing for 500 yards and 4 TDs.
It’s seriously debatable that this could be Houston’s year; it’s doubtful if you examine the Xs and Os carefully, but like so many teams that knock on the door one season and kick it off the hinges the next, by adding some top flight offensive linemen, some depth at cornerback and wide receiver, 2019 should bring the best Houston Texans team the NFL has ever seen.
In the meantime, they need to find a way to shave Andrew Luck and Frank Reich.
Before the season started, I’d say the majority of Texans fans believed the 2018 iteration of their squad would be a playoff team. Many, like yours truly, thought they’d win the AFC South.
Then the season began. The loss to the Patriots in New England? Disappointing, but not a shock. The loss to the Titans in Nashville? Very concerning. Dropping the home opener to the Giants? Panic in the streets. Of the 183 teams that started 0-3 since the NFL implemented a sixteen game schedule, only four rebounded to make the playoffs. That meant that your Houston Texans had a 2.7% chance to make the NFL Playoffs in late September. The 2018 season was effectively over.
The Texans’ response to that data? They reeled off nine wins in a row. No other team in NFL history had ever won more than six games in a row after starting off 0-3 in the Super Bowl era. The Texans shattered that record. They turned 0-3 into 11-5 and a division title. That’s astounding.
Diminish that accomplishment if you choose to do so; whether it was a soft schedule, or luck, or whatever else you want to attribute it to, the Texans won the games. Complain about Bill O’Brien, or the play-calling, or the overmatched offensive line, or a leaky secondary, or any number of other things that aren’t as flawless as they could be; that’s your prerogative as a fan. Declare the Texans a fraud, sure to come up short against Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton & Co. when it really counts. Or, should they somehow beat the Colts, destined to meet their end at the hands of the Patriots as the Texans have so many times before. Go nuts.
I’m going to be over here marveling at what this team accomplished. I’m going to recognize that a team fortunate enough to employ Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins is never totally out of it. I choose to get excited about a Houston defense that, while not as stout top to bottom as the 2016 version was, is still plenty good enough to keep opposing offenses in check.
I have no idea how the Texans will do in the playoffs. They could easily be one and done. They could win a game and lose in New England like the Texans do seemingly every year they qualify for the postseason. Or maybe DW4 shocks us all and takes this team somewhere it’s never been. It’s all on the table. I’m going to enjoy the ride, and I’m going to savor it all that much more after this team was written off before the first month of the regular season ended.
The Houston Texans are in the NFL Playoffs. It’s supposed to be fun, so fun I will have. I hope you do as well.