This weekend, eight months removed from a blowout playoff loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Texans took the field to kick off their 2016 campaign against the Chicago Bears. Some new faces on the Texans squad played crucial parts en route to the 23-14 win, starting with quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Aside from an interception on the first drive of the game, Osweiler was solid in his first appearance with Houston, completing 22 of his 35 pass attempts for 231 yards and two touchdowns. He found Pro Bowl receiver Deandre Hopkins five times for 54 yards and a touchdown, but the real star was rookie receiver Will Fuller who caught five passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Fuller, who was known for his lightning speed while at Notre Dame, was Houston’s first round pick in this years draft. Running back Lamar Miller, Houston’s other high profile free agent signee from this offseason, carried the load on the ground, rushing for 106 yards on 28 carries.
On the defensive side of the ball, middle linebacker Max Bullough had to step up after a knee injury sidelined starter Brian Cushing. Bullough finished the game with five tackles, just one behind John Simon who led the team with six. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus got his season off to a hot start with four tackles and two sacks. In the secondary, defensive back Andre Hal had his struggles early on against receiver Alshon Jeffery, but an interception to begin the second half created a crucial momentum shift that the Bears never recovered from. JJ Watt had no play limit, but was quiet throughout the game and finished with just one tackle. Watt, who was just cleared following off-season back surgery, missed the entire pre-season.
Though it wasn’t very pretty at times, the Texans showed signs of brilliance throughout the game, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Between Brock Osweiler, the young, athletic receiving corps led by Deandre Hopkins and the always dangerous Lamar Miller, this new look Texans offense has the potential to really light up scoreboards over the course of this year. With both sides of the ball leaving room for improvement, theres no where else to go but up for this young team. Houston stays home this upcoming weekend and will host the Kansas City Chiefs.