The Houston Texans finished the 2019 season with a 10-6 season and were just one game shy of making it to the Super Bowl. However, one year later, the Texans finished the 2020 season with a dismal 4-12 record and a most uncertain future for the franchise.
The problems with the franchise didn’t start this season, but in a year full of challenges and obstacles from the outside world, the team couldn’t overcome the deficiencies on and off of the field. 2020 marked the first year since 2017 the team lost 10 or more games and had a losing season.
Many say the problems with the team began when Bill O’Brien traded Jadeveon Clowney to the Seattle Seahawks in 2018, a questionable decision to this day to most of the fan base. As if trading Clowney wasn’t enough of a blow to the Texans, O’Brien then traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in April 2020.
After an 0-4 start to the season, the Texans’ owner, Cal McNair fired O’Brien and named Romeo Crennel the interim head coach while the search for both a general manager and head coach took place.
The Texans had to overcome playing during a global pandemic, changes in management midseason, injuries, and suspensions. The team wasn’t able to overcome the obstacles placed in front of them and as a result, the team self-imploded over the course of the season.
What Went Right
To be quite frank, for the team as a whole, nothing went right this season. Some say O’Brien finally losing his job was definitely a move in the right direction, but other than that, the team doesn’t have a lot of positivity to reflect on when they look back at this season. Some of the players had good seasons, but as a whole, the team did not.
Deshaun Watson, the franchise quarterback, who signed a four-year, $156 million extension in September, posted some of his best numbers this season. Watson put up 382 completions on 544 completions for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions for a 112.4 rating on the season. Watson also put 444 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns up in 2020. He set career-bests in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdown, and interceptions.
O’Brien felt that Watson didn’t need Hopkins to put up the numbers, and he was right as the numbers on paper show, but Watson did need the pass protection and reliability he had with Hopkins. Watson was sacked 49 times in 2020, the third-most in the league.
David Johnson posted 147 rushing plays for 691 yards and six touchdowns during his first year with the Texans and Brandin Cooks had 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. Both Johnson and Cooks were traded to the Texans in the offseason.
What Went Wrong
It was 2020, the year in which anything was possible and it became normal to expect the unexpected. The pandemic affected the season before it even started. The 2020 NFL Draft was held virtually, spring training didn’t take place, the practices were limited in the preseason, and all preseason games were canceled. Covid-19, injuries, and suspensions took their toll on an already struggling team this season.
There wasn’t a week that went by in which the Texans weren’t negatively affected by injuries. Players such as Benardrick McKinney, Brandon Dunn, Johnson, Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Dylan Cole all spent time on the injured list this year. There are just as many players not listed as listed who were out at least one game with an injury. An unhealthy roster was the last thing the Texans needed this season.
The Texans were not only plagued with covid and injuries to take players away from the roster, but violations of the NFL performance-enhancing drugs policy also cut the roster short. Will Fuller V, who had been an important core part of this season’s offensive, and Bradley Roby, one of the team’s better cornerbacks were both penalized with a six-game suspension. Their suspensions came with five games left in the season, so not only was this season cut short, but they both will also miss the first game of 2021.
Team Award Winners
MVP – Deshaun Watson
Despite losing Hopkins and playing with a struggling defense, Watson played as well as any quarterback in the league in 2020. Wherever he plays next season, expect him to be in the MVP conversation.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Charlie Heck
The Texans didn’t have many draft picks in 2020 but Heck looks like a long-term asset. In the final two games of the season, Heck played 75 percent and 100 percent of the snaps and played well. While the team is set with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard as their starting offensive tackles, Heck could develop into one of the best swing tackles in the league.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Jonathan Greenard
Again, the Texans lacked impact rookies in 2020 but Greenard finished the year out strong with nine total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit in Week 17. Depending on how the offseason goes, Greenard could be in a position for a much larger role in 2021.
Biggest Surprise – David Johnson
When the Texans traded away Hopkins for Johnson and a second-round pick, many thought Johnson was thrown in for salary cap reasons. However, he had a great bounce-back season in 2020, finishing with over 1,000 scrimmage yards and eight total touchdowns.
Biggest Disappointment – The Front Office
How can you have a superstar quarterback, a future Hall of Fame defensive end, and still only win four games? Between firing their head coach midseason and the dysfunctional mess in the front office, some consider it a miracle the Texans won four games this season.
One Burning Question
Where will Deshaun Watson Play in 2021?
It’s no secret that Watson wants out of Houston, but the Texans currently seem determined to hold their ground and not trade him. Watson is reportedly frustrated with several of the decision the Texans have made recently. Watson was assured he would be involved in the hiring process for the general manager and head coach positions, but this wasn’t the case. The Texans hired Nick Caserio to fill the role of general manager and David Culley as the next head coach. Watson wasn’t involved in the hiring process for either position and it has been reported the suggestions Watson offered to fill the positions weren’t even considered. Can this relationship be saved or will Watson end up playing somewhere else in 2021?