Coming into the season, the Texans didn’t have a lot of great expectations put on them.
But two games in, perhaps the low expectations were a bit hasty. The Texans (1-1) still aren’t a playoff team in our wildest imagination, but they appear to be a scrappy enough team to make games interesting this season.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve found out and what we can expect going forward from the Texans in a few key areas.
There seemed to be little hope at the position where the Texans once had a bright future. With star Deshaun Watson presumably permanently out and journeyman Tyrod Taylor in by default, things didn’t look as promising. That is until the first two games where we have seen that Taylor is in fact more than serviceable. He can be a playmaker with both his arm and legs.
What to expect going forward: With Taylor in control, the offense can be effective attacking teams with his versatility. The question is can Taylor stay healthy? He has lost jobs to rookie quarterbacks after he suffered injuries in his last two stops in Cleveland and San Diego and during last weekend’s loss to the Browns he suffered a hamstring injury that forced the Texans to turn to rookie third-rounder Davis Mills, who clearly isn’t ready. The Texans can win some games with Taylor running the offense. Without him, not so much.
Last season, the Texans couldn’t seem to stop anybody. But through two games the defense looks entirely different under first-year defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. The Texans are swarming to the ball and playing opportunistic football, and the results have been a defense that creates turnovers. After finishing dead last in the NFL in turnovers created last season with just nine, the Texans unit is close to equaling last season’s total with seven created turnovers. And that’s with 15 games still left to play.
What to expect going forward: Smith’s Tampa 2 4-3 defensive scheme is certainly much more fun to watch and creates disruption and confusion for opposing offenses. So look forward to more created turnovers this season. But while turnovers are a big part of the equation, so are tackling and figuring out how to get off the field. The Texans missed way too many tackles in the loss to the Browns and allowed running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to gash them way too many times. That must be cleaned up quickly.
The Texans were seemingly given a gift with four games on the schedule against rookie quarterbacks. Even better, two of those matchups are in the AFC South against Jacksonville’s No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. You figured the Texans could finish 4-13 this season with the Patriots’ Mac Jones and the Jets Zach Wilson also on the schedule. But after two games, it looks like the Texans are definitely better than a four-win team this season. They seemed to be on an upset bid against the Browns before Taylor’s injury.
What to expect going forward: The outlook for the season changes considerably depending on the availability of Taylor at quarterback. Mills lacks Taylor’s experience and playmaking ability to make things happen when the play breaks down. But with Taylor in the game and the defense continuing to show growth, the Texans should sweep the rookie quarterbacks on the schedule, while also notching two wins against AFC South rival Indianapolis along with victories over Miami and the Cardinals. That will put the Texans at 8-9 for the season and in second place in the division behind Tennessee.