Hello all - Ari Alexander writing to you this week after the Houston Texans turned in a listless second half performance over the weekend. It came after they took a surprising lead early in the game against the favored San Francisco 49ers on the road. Niners rookie QB Trey Lance led a second-half comeback against the Texans to win 23-7, but Davis Mills likely showed enough for the Texans to prioritize giving him a look in 2022.
COOKS HITS HIS MARK
The Texans had a direct line to a 3-game win streak with a 7-0 early lead thanks to Davis Mills’ undoubtable connection with wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks had 11 of Houston’s 30 targets, giving him a 37% target share. Cooks has been among the NFL leaders in target share and passed 1,000 yards against the 49ers. His 1,011 receiving yards this season gives him 1,000+ for the 6th time in his 8 year career. He has now passed the mark in both of his seasons as a Texan. Cooks has been traded 3 times in his career (4 technically, if you count that his draft pick was traded before he was picked), but seems to have found a home in Houston as the team’s primary receiver. With 6 of his past seasons going over 1,000 yards, he’s one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL.
STUCK ON 4
Last season, with a mix of Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel, but with Deshaun Watson playing at a Pro Bowl level, the Texans won 4 games. This season, with rookie head coach David Culley and a mix of veteran Tyrod Taylor and 3rd round rookie Davis Mills, the Texans have won 4 games.
The fact Houston’s record hasn’t dropped into embarrassing depths is a credit to Culley and his staff - especially Lovie Smith’s defense. NFL Network has reported Culley is likely to return for a second year. It would be in Houston’s best interest not to one-and-done a coach who has had to deal with the lack of talent on the roster.
WHO STAYS AND WHO GOES?
Most of the Texans roster isn’t signed past this season, so mainstays like safety Justin Reid and Jordan Akins are likely gone after this season, along with a massive amount of players Nick Caserio signed during the team’s roster turnover. There are a few players who have played well on their one-year deals and could be back next season.
Here’s a cursory list of players I think Houston should keep:
RB Rex Burkhead
DT Maliek Collins
DT DeMarcus Walker
LB Christian Kirksey
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
LB Neville Hewitt
CB Desmond King
Many of these guys are on cheap deals, with only Collins and maybe King likely to cost the Texans more than $5 million per season.
The Texans end the season Sunday against the Titans. Tennessee (11-5) fell to the Texans back on Nov. 21.