An unfortunate injury to Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller derailed a promising 2018 season.
The Houston Texans announced that wide receiver Will Fuller will miss the rest of the NFL season as he undergoes surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Fuller has been a game changer since the team drafted quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fuller has caught 11 touchdowns in the 14 games he’s played with Watson under center. In the seven games Fuller played this season, he had 32 receptions for 503 yards and was second in the team with his four touchdowns. He was having a career year averaging 71.9 receiving yards per game and also led the receiving group with 15.7 yards per catch.
Fuller was responsible for 23 of the offense’s 165 first downs and had eight of his 32 receptions go for at least 20 yards or more, so he had a 25 percent rate of having an opportunity for a big play for the Texans.
However, his effect on the game went beyond the box score, Fuller demanded a bracket coverage by opposing defenses, and all the attention he attracted allowed for tight ends and interior receivers like Keke Coutee to have plenty of space to operate in the middle of the field.
It’s no coincidence that in Fuller’s big game vs. the Miami Dolphins in which he had a touchdown, five receptions and 124 yards that he had a ripple effect other players get open. Tight end Jordan Thomas was a benefactor of Fuller garnering most of the coverage in the red zone.
Granted, Thomas was in pass protection at the start of the play, but he was able to slip freely into the end zone due to the fact that most of the defense was on the right side of the field worrying about DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller. In that particular play, Watson even had the tight end, Jordan Akins, open because of a miscommunication between the two defenders and the respect they have of Fuller’s ability to get open.
Fuller added a valuable dimension to the Texans offense and was on pace to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. The stats and the film show that he was one of Watson’s favorite target, his blazing speed and crisp routes were a key component for the Texans’ aerial attack.
It’ll be tough or nearly impossible for the Texans to replicate his impact on the offense even though they traded for veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The Texans have rookie wide receiver Vyncint Smith and Sammie Coates on the active roster, but they are nowhere near as polished route runners as Fuller.
Fuller proved this season that his performance with Watson last year wasn’t a fluke, and he is primed to be a mainstay in this offense as long as he is able to prove he can get back to where he was this season in terms of health and production.