State of the Texans Midseason-Bye Week Awards for the Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have entered a much-needed bye week to make the final push to improve on their 6-3 record. A top of the AFC South, the Texans hold the cards on their playoff future if they continue to rack up wins.
Even with the devastating injury to J.J. Watt, the Texans have been dealing with multiple injuries over the past month. Somehow the Texans have found ways to put together a strong start to the season.
State of the Texans has decided to hand out bye week awards to individuals to start the first half of the season.
There is one stipulation our rules, Deshaun Watson is ineligible for any awards due to everyone knowing he is the team MVP and offensive player of the year. From this point and probably every season, he is the signal-caller for the Texans.
State of the Texans Awards
Rookie of the Year
There were so many pundits and fans upset that the Texans did not trade up for Andre Dillard on draft night and "settled" for Alabama State's Tytus Howard. The Texans stuck to their plan for someone who fit what they were looking for the roster. Howard, in a short time, has turned into a foundational player on the offensive line.
The Texans were still attempting to figure out their combination at offensive line and stuck Howard at left guard to learn the system. After the arrival of Laremy Tusil, the Texans did not wait and moved him to right tackle, and the rest is history.
Howard's best trait is how well he blocks in the run game and add in he is tough to move in pass protection. The athletic big man has been a day one starter and their best right tackle since Eric Winston. He even showed some toughness coming back against Jacksonville in London, gutting out a strong performance with a braced up left knee helping the Texans to a win.
Best Free Agent Signing
This is a tough one, but the signing of tight end Darren Fells has exceeded expectations. Fells had been an afterthought with the Cleveland Browns and only looked at as a blocking option. Even when Fells arrived in Houston, he was buried behind a depth chart of young promising tight ends.
Injuries and lack of production hit during training camp, and Fells was still plugging away getting better. Fells has the ability to be an every-down tight end with his blocking presence and improved route running.
Fells only had 12 targets for the Browns in 2018 in 16 games last season. He is already up to 31 targets this season, which is a career-high. Fells has already set a personal best in touchdowns, targets, and receptions (24) in 9 games.
After a strong start to training camp and the arrow pointing up, tight end Jordan Thomas' second season with the Texans has been empty. Thomas was putting on a clinic during camp and proving to have a good relationship with Watson in the red zone.
A hamstring injury derailed him early in camp, and in the final game of the preseason, he suffered a rib injury that put him on the injured reserve.
Even before his rib injury, Thomas missed so much time due to his hamstring injury he was passed up by Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, and Jerrell on the roster. Thomas was never able to make up ground and now has become a non-factor for this season.
There are many that worthy of this award. The true difference-maker for the Texans on offense has been Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil, since his arrival to Houston before the season, not only changed the offensive line but the mentality of the group.
Tunsil has held up his end of the bargain by keeping Deshaun Watson clean the last month of the season. He has to clean up the false starts, but his impact holding the rest of his peers on the offensive line has made a difference.
The addition of Tunsil allowed the Texans to move Howard to the right tackle and have the confidence to start rookie Max Scharping next to him due to his experience on the field.
The offensive mentality has changed with Tunsil in the lineup and allowed plays to be called with confidence on gamedays.
If the Texans did not have D.J. Reader in the middle, the chances of Benardick McKinney and Zach Cunningham having their seasons would be in question. Reader's ability to eat up blockers and make plays on his own makes the Texans middle of the defense one of their strengths.
Add in his improved pass-rushing ability, Reader has been able to push the pocket to help the edge rushers clean up on sacks.
Reader's presence is all over the place from the run game to the pass rush plus sprinkle in the hustle plays he has run down running backs or wide receivers, he has been a complete player and the most consistent in 2019.
Biggest Surprise Award
A non-factor in Cleveland and Jacksonville last season and after signing him this off-season Carlos Hyde was not in Kansas City's plans heading into the season. The Chiefs came calling the Texans, and with the injury to Lamar Miller, O'Brien leaned on Bradley Roby for information on his friend and teammate from Ohio State.
Hyde not only has rejuvenated his career, but he has infused life into a running game that has been up and down since O'Brien arrived as head coach. Hyde brings a physical presence to the offense rushing for 704 yards and three rushing touchdowns through nine games.
He has tapped into the fountain of youth that made him one of the up and coming backs in the NFL when he was with San Francisco this season with the Texans.
Under the Radar Award
Before the season started, O'Brien wanted another wide receiver a veteran presence for the roster. Not only for a safety net due to the inconsistencies of Will Fuller and Keke Coutee but to be part of the game plan. Kenny Stills became part of the deal for Tunsil with Miami and he has been more than just an insurance plan for the Texans offense.
Able to play inside and outside of offensive sets, Stills has produced at a high clip when the football is thrown his way. 81.8% of Stills receptions this season have gone for a first down and he is currently averaging 16.7 yards a reception.
Stills is one of the Texans' top three receivers on the roster and right now he and DeAndre Hopkins are their go-to tandem in the passing game.
Team MVP Not Named Deshaun Watson
Even without playing this past week, J.J. Watt still leads the NFL with 20 quarterback hits going into week ten of the season. Watt still showed his presence on the field as a pass rusher and run stopper when needed.
The Texans moved Watt around more this season to the inside especially allowing him to take advantage of others working within the scheme. The defense up front was built for Watt to make plays and he did that through the first nine weeks of the season.
Even on ,the play he tore his pectrol, it was a tackle for loss on a running back when the defense needed it the most.
With the Texans pass rush up and down this season, Watt was still able to generate hits and hurries on quarterbacks despite defenses sending multiple blockers his way.
Watt is our pick for the MVP, outside of Watson, due to the defense having to find a new identity for the second half of the season. That is how vital he was to the week to week plan for Texans'xans defensive success.
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