The contrast between two NFL campaigns can sometimes be quite startling, especially when it comes to weighing up the previous achievements and the expectations which inevitably follow. When looking at how the Houston Texans fared last season, then observing how the team has begun the 2020 NFL regular season campaign, it’s almost like comparing chalk and cheese.
2019 NFL Season
Despite never managing to achieve more than two consecutive wins through the regular season, the Houston Texans were still able to comfortably top the AFC South with their 10-6 winning record.
Highlights included the 32-53 destruction of the Atlanta Falcons, as Deshaun Watson registered a perfect passer rating, along with a victorious trip to Wembley Stadium in London, where the Texans treated their English fans to a 26-3 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Once postseason arrived and having ranked fourth in the AFC Conference table, the Texans produced a spirited overtime win in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs. After trailing the first two quarters against the Buffalo Bills, the 19-22 final score in overtime was a great comeback.
— The Courier Sports (@ConroeSports) January 5, 2020
However, upon progressing to the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the Texans had the misfortune of coming up against the NFL’s unstoppable force of last season, yet they did make an encouraging and positive start against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Texans burst into a phenomenal 21-0 lead in the first quarter, yet it all went wrong from there. The Chiefs hit back with seven consecutive touchdowns and a field goal, crushing Houston hopes completely to claim the final 31-51 victory.
Ultimately, this proved a hugely disappointing conclusion for the Texans, after what had looked a tantalizing appearance in the playoffs. As for the Chiefs, they ended up reaching Super Bowl LIV, defeating the San Francisco 49ers to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
2020 Season Start
Insofar as many pundits were concerned, the Houston Texans overachieved last season. Heading into the 2020 regular season campaign, such views were also underlined by NFL odds which pointed towards a tough year ahead for the team.
Unfortunately, results early in the season have hardly given credence to any hopes the Texans might beat the odds again, with playoff prospects already looking decidedly gloomy. Posting a 1-6 record from the opening seven games, it’s fair to say postseason participation looks unlikely.
ESPN pre-season NFL Ranks listed Deshaun Watson amongst the top 10 players in the league, along with J.J. Watt and Laremy Tunsil in the top 100. However, they also gave the Texans just a 20.9% chance of winning the AFC South title again, and an optimistic 36.5% chance of making the playoffs.
Breaking: The Texans have fired HC and GM Bill O’Brien.
(via multiple reports) pic.twitter.com/f9JWajMxYv
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 5, 2020
Starting the season against the Kansas City Chiefs, albeit with a gutsy display from the team, the Texans opened their account with a 20-34 loss at the Arrowhead Stadium. The losing streak continued against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Minnesota Vikings. That 0-4 record also cost Bill O’Brien his job as head coach.
The slide was eventually halted when the Texans hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars, hitting the visiting side hard for an encouraging 30-14 victory, sparking brief hopes they were finally getting the season on track. A glimmer of hope for interim head coach Romeo Crennel, yet the flickering flame of hope was quickly extinguished.
Once again, the Texans fell back into the unwelcome habit of losing. At the Tennessee Titans the Texans showed great fighting spirit, before running out of steam in overtime for the 36-42 loss. The following game there was no stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who tormented the losing Texans for the 35-20 outcome.
Given such an unforgiving start to the 2020 NFL season for the Houston Texans, while the team will undoubtedly battle for anything they can get from the remaining fixtures, finding any genuine positives is tricky business indeed.
Carrying the unwanted tag of being one of the worst defenses in the NFL, there’s a good chance of some welcome rotations in the final games of the regular season. That could provide Jonathan Greenard with his chance to shine, giving the 23-year-old much needed experience ahead of the 2021 campaign.
According to Deshaun Watson, the Texans can still win the AFC South. While that may seem extremely optimistic after the opening seven games and with just one win on the board, he insists the team is entirely capable. In theory, Houston face an easier schedule in the coming weeks, compared to the opening stretch of the season.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) November 6, 2020
Unless the Houston Texans can match the ambitious hopes previously outlined by Deshaun Watson, winning the AFC South looks a tall order. That particular objective will be fought out between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts this year.
This has become a season of transitions, both on the field and in the offices of the Houston franchise. Hopefully, the months ahead will be put to good use, as the Texans look to rebuild.