The Texans Lock Up the AFC South Title
The Texans have their third AFC South title in five seasons and their fourth winning season in five seasons. The Texans went 5-1 in the division this year and moved to 18-14 overall under Bill O’Brien the past two seasons. Even bigger than that is that the Texans are 11-4 the past two seasons coming out of the bye week.
As a team starting 2-5, the Texans, at one point of the season, stood at a 17% chance of making the playoffs. With some luck and by making some key adjustments, the Texans were able to change the course of the season by playing solid fundamental football.
Going back to 1950, the Texans are the only playoff team to start four different quarterbacks and have all win at least one game. Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden all notched wins as quarterbacks for the Houston Texans.
Brian Hoyer Makes it to the Playoffs
Brian Hoyer set career highs in touchdowns (18), completion percentage (60.5), and quarterback rating (93.0) plus he will have his first playoff appearance as starting quarterback.
He was uneasy in the pocket early in the game against the Jaguars, feeling pressure that was not there, but he took everything the defense gave him. He only had one target of 20 yards or more and focused the majority of his work on underneath routes.
Hoyer and the offensive success depends on him getting the ball out on schedule and slowing down the pass rush. Going 25 of 40 for 249 yards, Hoyer was solid in his first game back since missing the past two games with a concussion.
Alfred Blue Making it Happen
Alfred Blue had 11 carries on first down and 5 went for first downs, for an average of 7.5 yards a rush. When adding in the fact he had a 65-yard run wiped out, Blue and the offensive line dominated on first down for the offense.
The Texans moved to 3-0 on the season when Blue runs for a 100 yards and, while his 102 yard day will not win style points, he did plenty to make it happen for the offense.
Akeem Hunt Shines
Akeem Hunt had only four touches on the day, but he averaged 13.8 yards on those touches. Hunt is making plays and using his speed to flip the field in a hurry for the offense. He turned a screen pass into a 27-yard gain and on his run of 25 yards, he broke down the Jaguars safety in open field. He also had a 55-yard tunnel screen negated due to him not being set prior to the play.
Hunt has cut out a niche for himself in the offense and he is giving opposing defenses something to think about when he touches the field.
DeAndre Hopkins Joins Randy Moss
Bill O’Brien mentioned during the season that DeAndre Hopkins does things that he saw Moss do during practice with the New England Patriots. Now Hopkins is in the same discussion with Moss after being the only player besides Moss to have racked up at least 3,500 receiving yards before turning 24 years old.
It was a break out year for Hopkins and this season was key to show he can handle the number one duties of a NFL wide receiver.
Jaelen Strong’s Time
It feels like good things happen every time Jaelen Strong touches the football and Sunday was no different. Strong showed he can catch and make defenders miss, which was on display on a simple two-yard ball to the flats as he turned it into a 20-yard gain.
Strong is making the most of his opportunities with 6 receptions for 56 yards on Sunday. Both the receptions and yards numbers are career highs. With the wide receiver health in question as both Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts game to game with various injuries, Strong’s emergence is coming at the right time.
Whitney Mercilus Touches Double Digit Sacks
Whitney Mercilus mentioned that he reached personal goals for himself at the end of the regular season. Locking up 12 sacks this year, he and J.J. Watt are the first Texans duo to have double digit sacks in a season.
Mercilus continues to be a difference maker for the defense and he has been able to turn up the pass rush when needed. Finally able to provide some help to Watt, Mercilus is coming into his own as a player and becoming a complete edge player.
Kareem Jackson Solid in the Win
Kareem Jackson has been playing solidly in the run game and he is providing help when he lines up in the nickel cornerback position. He is fast enough to cover ground inside the box and is a sure tackler helping out the linebackers.
He helped seal the game when he jumped an outside slant route and picked off Blake Bortles for a touchdown, in which Jackson started high stepping from the 20 yard line. He is hitting his stride after missing nearly a month with a high ankle sprain, which he suffered against the Miami Dolphins.