Is Nate Washington the key to the Texans second half?
By Josh McSwain
On the surface, this may seem absurd. But recently, the veteran receiver has provided a boost for the offense. While DeAndre Hopkins is the lead dog in this offense, for every Batman there needs to be a Robin. I think Washington has provided exactly that.
This season, Washington is averaging 15.8 yards per catch, which is 15th in the league and tops on the team, and has scored three touchdowns in the last two games. The veteran receiver also has two games with more than 100 receiving yards with 105 against the Chiefs in the season opener and 127 against the Dolphins. He still possess the speed to beat the defense over the top, with a long of 48 yards this season set against the Panthers.
But in a pass happy offense that gets little from the ground, the Texans are going to have to air it out a lot down the stretch.
The Texans have gotten little from their tight ends this season, meaning most of the burden will be on Hopkins and Washington to make the bulk of the plays. Cecil Shorts III has some playmaking ability, but he is so inconsistent with his injuries that the Texans cannot count on much from him as they head down the stretch run. But the 11th year pro from Tiffin College, who has a Super Bowl ring that he won with the Steelers in 2008, will be key in the second half because the Texans will have to roll coverage away from Hopkins somehow. Washington is going to have to give opposing defensive coordinators something to think about and prevent Hopkins from being doubled every play, because teams won’t respect the running game with as lousy as it has been this season.
Washington has one thousand yard season so far in his career, in 2011 with the Titans. He caught 74 passes for 1,023 yards and a career high seven touchdowns. While he likely won’t match those numbers with just eight games left in the season (he has 26 catches for 411 yards in six games so far in 2015), he still needs to have a good year to put the Texans in position to take the AFC south from the Colts.