HOUSTON – The time has come for the sounds of football to return to NRG Park.
It’s a six-week grind and the countdown to the Sept. 9 opener at New Orleans starts now.
The Texans are coming off of an AFC South title in 2018 after finishing 11-5 in a season that included a nine-game win streak after an 0-3 start.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson is back for his third season and many expect this season to be his breakout year in all areas. For the Texans to accomplish their goals, Watson’s success and health are critical.
How Watson landed in Houston
Watson was drafted in the first round by the Texans after a stellar collegiate career at Clemson, where he led the Tigers to a national championship. Watson grew up in Gainesville, Georgia, and dominated on the high-school level.
What happened in 2018?
Coming off an ACL injury that ended his rookie season in 2017, Watson hopes this year isn’t as painful as last fall when he was sacked 62 times. Keeping Watson upright and protected is the Texans top priority. Some sacks were his fault, but mostly they were because of a bad offensive line. Watson dealt with a partially collapsed lung and cracked ribs suffered in a game against the Cowboys. At Jacksonville, Watson chose to take a bus ride to get there because of the injuries just so he could suit up and play. Despite the injuries and poor offensive line play, Watson still produced good numbers in 2018, finishing with 4,165 yards, 26 TDs and a passer rating of 103.1.
What’s ahead in 2019?
Watson is set up to have a breakout season if things fall into place. It will start with improved offensive-line play. The Texans hope first-round pick Tytus Howard can fill a slot immediately at left guard. The hope is that he will eventually be a starter at left tackle.
A healthy wide receiver corps will go a long way towards Watson’s success as well. DeAndre Hopkins, who had 115 receptions for 1,572 yards, was hurt late in the year, including the playoff loss to the Colts. Deep threat Will Fuller suffered a torn ACL. Fuller is healthy again and so is KeKe Coutee, who battled hamstring problems all season and missed 10 games. His best game was an 11-catch effort. The Texans need more of that, and for Coutee to prove he can stay healthy and be a slot target on the field for Watson.
The tight ends will also be big for Watson, who has some good options in Jordan Thomas and Jordan Akins.
- Name: Derrick Deshaun Watson
- Hometown: Gainesville, Georgia
- College: Clemson
- Height: 6 feet, 2 inches
- Weight: 220 pounds
- Drafted: Texans, 2017 first-round
- Career stats: 5,864 yards, 45 TD, 17 INT, Passer rating 103.1
- 2018 stats: 4,165 yards, 26 TD, 9 INT, Passer rating 103.1
- Offseason Travels: London, Egypt, Austria, Puerto Rico, Rome, Berlin and Israel