The Houston Texans were able to get themselves out of the wild card round for the first time in three years, knocking off the Buffalo Bills 22-19 in overtime. However, they still would not be able to get over that divisional round hump, losing out to the eventual Super Bowl winner Kansas City Chiefs 51-31. The Texans in fact would have a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter but gave up 28 unanswered points before half-time. With the 2019 season in the past, it’s now time to focus on the 2020 season. Here are my team award predictions for the Texans.
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MVP: Deshaun Watson
While the Texans failed to finally get themselves over the second-round hump. Watson would leave Texans fans with a lot to be hopeful for next season. In the wildcard against Buffalo, Watson would perform a Houdini like escape on two Bills defenders, avoiding what should have been a certain sack. In that same play, Watson would connect with running back Taiwan Jones on a 33-yard pass completion. This would set up a Ka’imi Fairbairn 28 yard field goal conversion to send them into the divisional round.
Watson would play all but one of the 16 regular-season games, winning 10 of his 15 games. He threw for 26 touchdowns, 3,852 yards, and a passer rating of 98.0. Also, Watson’s sack totals were cut by 18 from 62 to 44. Watson can take comfort in the fact, Laremy Tunsil will be around for the foreseeable future. Tunsil signed a three-year extension for $66 million. They would also add Charlie Heck in the fourth round.
While Watson did suffer a pretty huge knockback with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, the addition of Brandin Cooks isn’t a bad consolation. They would also sign Randall Cobb to a three year 27 million dollar contract. Cobb contributed over 800 yards and three touchdown receptions last season with the Dallas Cowboys.
I expect Watson to continue producing at the same relative pace, with an offensive line that should continue to steadily improve. While Watson won’t have his right-hand man in tow entering the 2020 season, he will instead have a number of receivers that will now need to step up and be counted. Keke Coutee and Will Fuller have both been especially injury-prone over the last two seasons, can one of those two players finally manage to shake the injury bug?
Offensive Player: Brandin Cooks
In an attempt to try and best refill the void left by Hopkins, Cooks would be brought over through a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, giving up a second-rounder in the process. While Cooks isn’t on the level of a Hopkins, he is still a top 15 receiver and will help to resettle the passing game. He did have a sharp downturn in 2019, having posted his worst season since 2014. Although prior to last season, Cooks would have four straight 1,000 yard seasons along with 29 combined receiving touchdowns.
So much depends on his health issues, as Cooks has continued to suffer concussions over the past two seasons. However, coming in as the clear cut number one receiving target, I expect Cooks to rebound with his usual 1,000 plus yards along with the usual seven to eight touchdowns, as he will be targeted on a quite consistent basis.
Defensive Player: J.J. Watt
Watt comes off a 2019 season in which he would miss half the regular season schedule due to a torn pectoral muscle. He would end up producing just four sacks and 15 solo tackles. Now into his 10th season, Watt has two more seasons left on the contract, with a cap hit of $15.5 million and $17.5 million. The Texans would have no dead money if they were to let Watt go from his contract after next season.
So with that all in mind, Watt returns with a whole lot to prove and much to lose. It was only two seasons ago that Watt played the full 16 game slate, producing 16 total sacks as well as seven forced fumbles. With so much on the line this upcoming season, I would put my money on Watt responding with a strong response in 2020.
Offensive Rookie: Isaiah Coulter
With the last selection in the draft, the Texans selected Coulter, a wide receiver out of Rhode Island. Coulter brings a lot of attractive attributes, including good size, quickness, and height. If Coulter should manage to impress Texans management in the preseason, I see no reason why he can’t work himself into a top-four receiving role. I look at the continuous injuries among the majority of Texans wide receivers, and I feel the opportunity is certainly there for Coulter to make a dent if he plays his cards right.
Defensive Rookie: Ross Blacklock
Snaring Blacklock with the 40th selection you could argue was minor theft, given his potential. After missing all of the 2018 season because of an ACL tear, Blacklock would return with his best year at TCU, combining for 40 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Along with besting his defensive totals from 2017, he would be named to the first-team All-Big 12.
Blacklock is pretty mobile for a player that weighs over 300 pounds, along with a quality first step in which to get the jump on opposing offensive lineman. Blacklock also has the ability to play at several different positions on the defensive line, when called upon. With the loss of D.J. Reader to free agency this off-season, Blacklock should look to fill that hole left at defensive tackle.
The defensive front came into the draft, in need of significant patchwork. Watt’s health issues have not gotten much better over the last four seasons, having played the full 16 game slate just once. If Watt should sit for any length of time, Blacklock could be expected to carry much more of the load in his first season.
Biggest Surprise: David Johnson
There were many onlookers that were left scratching their heads when Johnson was sent back to Houston in the Hopkins trade. Especially, when you consider the Cardinals would get Bill O’Brien to take on Johnson’s full contract. While Johnson hasn’t come anywhere close to his monster 2016 output, It was just two seasons ago that Johnson played the full 16 games. In that season Johnson would produce 940 yards rushing along with 10 combined touchdowns. He’s always been a steady receiving back, so I expect Watson to throw plenty of balls his way.
With Lamar Miller now out of the picture, Johnson’s main competition fort touches will be Duke Johnson. In Duke’sfive year career, he has topped 400 yards just once. If I was to predict David’s statistical outcome for 2020, I would mark him down for in the range of 900 plus yards along with 10-11 touchdowns on 220 plus rushing attempts.
Biggest Disappointment: Will Fuller
This was a tough decision, while newly added running back Johnson might seem like a reasonable choice for this category, given his steady fall back from 2016. As just previously stated, I do feel strongly Johnson could end up surprising with a nice season as he moves on from Arizona. Fuller, on the other hand, I do not have the same belief that he can turn it around this upcoming season. Already four years into his career with the Texans, Fuller has not started more than 14 games since his rookie season and more than 11 games in the past three.
I’m sure theirs some that think with the loss of Hopkins, this could be Fuller’s time to finally step up. However, when you consider he has not hit 700 yards receiving in any season, and topped four touchdowns just once. I can’t imagine why 2020 will be different, regardless if Hopkins is in the picture or not.
Questions and comments?
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