We have been talking this week about some "Bye Week Blues" for the Houston Texans, but now we are looking at the bright spots on the team. There have been little, but there are some players who, despite the bad start of the season, are putting together an impressive season.
Some may surprise you, but the solid seasons they are having cannot be denied.
The Bright Spots
Watt has been, as usual, the model of consistency for the defense and the Texans team. He is not on the same pace he was last season for quarterback sacks, but he is still setting the bar on what NFL defensive linemen need to do to dominate games. Teams try to be aware of him on the field, but it still does not matter in the long run of the game. He needs help from the other side of the defensive line, but he has built his resume even more this year.
Key Stats: 34 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 3 pass deflections, 11 quarterback hits, 17 quarterback hurries, 408 snaps
Easily the second best defender for the Texans. Even though he is plagued by pass interference calls (all seem questionable), Jackson is a complete corner. He will cover when needed, but most importantly he will put a hit on a ball carrier. People are critical of the way he tackles, but to have a cornerback that is not afraid to make plays in the run game is an added plus in the NFL. His progress from year one to now has been impressive and he is going to make it tough for the Texans to let him walk away from the team when his current contract is up.
Key Stats: 379 snaps, 26 targets, 15 completions, 7.3 yards per completion, 20 yards after the catch (110 yards), 2 touchdowns, 3 pass deflections
Teamed with Kareem Jackson, Joseph rounds out one of the top tandems in the NFL. Joseph has played solid this season and is looking like his former self that signed here in 2011. More than anything, his confidence and health are back. Teams are being careful throwing outside the numbers and looking to the middle of the field in the passing game. Just like Jackson, Joseph will play the run when needed and is putting together a solid season.
Key Stats: 391 snaps, 36 targets, 16 completions, given up less than two receptions in 6 of the 7 games, 1 interception, 4 pass deflections
Sources: Texans Cutting Pro Bowl Kick Returner
Sources: Texans cutting kick returner Andre Roberts
Sources: Texans Cutting Whitney Mercilus
The Texans are releasing Mercilus, 31, as they continue to go with a youth movement on the defensive line
Sources: Texans Tryouts for 2 New Linemen
Houston Texans Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up-to-date on Texans NFL news as Houston works on its roster-building
Keo has been consistent for this defense and has provided some big plays from the safety position. As a starter, the Texans are 2-0. He made a game changing hit in the San Diego game to turn the tide and had a key interception against the Kansas City Chiefs to keep hope alive. He will tackle, but most importantly he understands his limitations as a player on the field. His instincts are only getting better and right now he looks like the second best safety on the team for the Texans.
Key Stats: 202 snaps, 19 total tackles, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections, 5 targets, 3 completions
The most consistent offensive lineman for the Texans and this could be his best season as a professional. His run blocking and pass protection have been solid and he has handled some of the best defensive linemen in the league. He has had to make some slight changes to his game with the quarterback change, but that did not slow his level of play. He has been called the best center in the NFL by select people in and around the league, and this season he is making a real case.
Key Stats: 532 snaps, 7 quarterback hurries allowed
When thrown the football, Hopkins is as impressive as it gets for a rookie only seven games into his career. His route running is sharp and his catch radius makes it easy for quarterbacks to work. He showed against the Kansas City Chiefs that he can go vertical when needed, which was a surprise because that was the first time he has. He is clearly the future of the franchise as a wide receiver and he has been as good as advertised coming out of Clemson.
Key Stats: 472 snaps, 42 targets, 28 receptions, 416 yards, 14.9 yards a receptions, 2 touchdowns
Having the punter the focal point of a football team has been labeled the "kiss of death" because he has been seen too much. In a way it is true for the Texans, but Lechler has been on another level. Critics were saying that Lechler was old and had lost his touch, but he has turned back the clock and turned the punting game into something fun to watch.
Key Stats: 47.5 yards per punts, 32 punts, 17 inside the 20 yard line, 4 fair catches