The Texans have now lost six of their last seven games, falling to the San Francisco 49ers 26-16 on Sunday. It was a game that featured teams on two completely different trajectories. Houston has now lost three straight, while the Jimmy Garoppolo-led 49ers have new hope with back-to-back wins.
It was a close game through two quarters as the Texans entered half down just 13-9. Houston scored a touchdown out of the half to take the lead, before the 49ers scored 13 unanswered points to pull away.
DeAndre Hopkins is making a strong case for best wide receiver in the league, with another solid performance. The Clemson product finished with 11 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns, both from third-string T.J. Yates.
Hopkins has been solid all season, and through thirteen games has 1,084 yards and 11 touchdowns on 77 catches. His performance is especially astounding considering he’s had to catch passes from three different quarterbacks.
The Texans might have a quarterback controversy on their hands, the backup quarterback position that is. With Deshaun Watson lost for the season, Tom Savage has headed the Texans and has been mediocre, to say the least. When he exited with an injury of his own, a familiar face took over.
TJ Yates, the man who won the Texans their first ever playoff game in 2011, is back. Yates passed for 175 yards and two touchdowns in two quarters and two minutes of the second quarter, but couldn’t finish the job and the Texans lost. Despite that, fans and analysts alike have called for Yates to take over the rest of the season.
Expect him to be the lead quarterback during practice this week while Savage recovers, when he does, Coach Bill O’Brien will have a tough call to make as to who will finish out the season at quarterback.
Injury bug strikes again
Tom Savage exited the game with a concussion with two minutes left in the half. Savage was visibly shaken after getting hit by 49ers defensive end Elvis Dumervil on an incomplete pass.
After spending only three minutes on the sideline getting checked out, Savage re-entered the game, which was met with much controversy, before being pulled permanently and checked into concussion protocol.
It’s been an injury ridden season for Houston, as JJ Watt put it “it sucks, we have a Pro Bowl roster on injured reserve.” In addition to Watt, star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson is out for the season with a torn ACL, Whitney Mercilus suffered a torn pectoral muscle and is lost for the season as well. CJ Fiedorowicz, the tight end from Iowa, has struggled to stay healthy, with four concussions in two years, is reportedly considering retirement.
Hope on the defensive side
In positive news, Brian Cushing made his return from suspension. He was named a captain for the week and finished with a sack. The Texans will have the next three games to test his compatibility with the defense, and try new schemes with the versatile linebacker leading the group.
Jadeveon Clowney had another solid game, finishing with six tackles. He faced a tough test this week, often lining up against Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley. To Clowney’s credit, he applied steady pressure of Garoppolo. The Texans also forced a turnover as Kareem Jackson intercepted a pass early on.
The defense has struggled without J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but Clowney, Jackson and Johnathan Joseph and the return of Brian Cushing give fans something to look forward to the rest of the season.
The Texans currently sit in third place in the AFC South, behind Jacksonville and Tennessee, who are both sitting at 8-4, and ahead of the Indianapolis Colts. They’re essentially out of playoff contention at 4-9 and they have tough games against the Jaguars, Steelers, and a season finale to decide last place in the division against the Colts.
Houston doesn’t have a first round draft pick this season (unless they trade for one) and without a first round draft pick or playoffs to look forward to, it’s somewhat of a lost season for Houston.
However, with little left to lose, expect the Texans to play out the next three weeks by testing the younger guys and attempting to attract upcoming free agents.
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