Houston Texans clinched the AFC South division in Week 17 with a resounding victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Houston Texans always had control of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and won 20-3. The offense played mistake-free football after having multiple contributors out with injuries, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was ruled out for the season and placed on IR meanwhile Keke Coutee missed another game due to his hamstring injury. The Texans relied heavily on DeAndre Hopkins, DeAndre Carter, and Vyncint Smith in the passing game.
Rookie wide receiver Steven Mitchell was signed from the practice squad once Thomas was placed on the IR, but he saw minimal action in the game. He did, however, drew a penalty for defensive pass interference that put the offense in position to score, but it’s clear he’ll see little to no action moving forward if the receivers in front of him stay healthy.
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The offense will rely on Hopkins, Smith, and possibly Coutee if he is cleared by the training staff to play against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Carter has done a good job in Coutee’s absence, but Coutee has proven to be one of the Texans better receivers in his short time on the field.
The running game also looked better with the Texans opting to give quarterback Deshaun Watson more freedom to keep the ball and run it in the read-option plays. The offense had a total of 134 rushing yards and Watson rushed for 66 of those yards and a touchdown score. Watson’s ability to keep the ball and run downfield kept the Jaguars defense honest and opened running lanes for the running backs. Alfred Blue had 12 rushing yards for 3 carries meanwhile Lamar Miller had 56 rushing yards on 17 carries after coming back from an ankle injury that kept him sidelined last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Another small nugget, D’Onta Foreman was inactive for the third time in four games. It looks more and more dubious for Foreman to be a contributor in the playoffs, the Texans have been cautious with him after coming back from an Achilles injury last season, but he had a poor outing against the Eagles last week. It seems out of the picture for the Texans to turn to Foreman unless Miller or Blue get injured in the postseason.
The offense was run as well as could be imagined considering the turnover at the wide receiver position. Outside of Hopkins, none of the other receivers have spent more than a season with the Texans or had much experience in the NFL. Smith, Coutee, and Mitchell are rookies meanwhile Carter has bounced around from team to team since coming into the league undrafted in 2016 but had never spent much time on the field until this season as the Eagles’ returner on special teams.
The Jaguars game was of extreme importance for Watson and the offense as he continued to develop his chemistry with his receivers. He didn’t disappoint going 25-35 for 234 passing yards and completing 71 percent of his passes. Watson has done a good job of cutting on his turnovers and he hasn’t thrown an interception since Week 11 against the Washington Redskins.
The defense also made some adjustments in their final game of the regular season, with the injury of Johnathan Joseph, the Texans elected to use Shareece Wright as the boundary cornerback accompanying Kareem Jackson. The Texans elected to move Tyrann Mathieu from safety to slot cornerback and played Andre Hal at free safety alongside Justin Reid.
Joseph missed the Jaguars with a neck injury but he is expected to be available for the Wild Card game against the Colts. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep Mathieu or Jackson in the slot since the Texans have been reluctant to play cornerback Aaron Colvin after returning from his ankle injury.
Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has continued to move players around the secondary as he’s looked to find for the best lineup ahead of the playoffs. The Texans have a lot of possibilities moving forward but it does seem unreasonable for many changes to occur with the Colts game less than a week away. Crennel will rely on the players he has utilized in the past few games for the upcoming game.