HOUSTON -- Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t have to think back too far to remember when the offense wasn’t like this. When scoring 57 points was more a dream than a possibility.
The Houston Texans have won the AFC South in back-to-back seasons, but have done so while relying on their defense, which last season ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense. After gambling and trading up to select quarterback Deshaun Watson with the No. 12 pick in April, the Texans are no longer a one-dimensional team.
In the Texans' 57-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans, Watson was 25-of-34 for 283 yards, with four touchdowns and an interception. He added 24 yards and a touchdown on the ground on four carries. Watson’s five total scores tied the NFL rookie touchdown record and his Total QBR of 98.1 was the highest in a game this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“You have to thank the organization for going out and moving up and getting a guy like Deshaun Watson,” Hopkins said. “Taking that risk on moving up and trading draft picks to get a guy that they know can do this for this organization. It starts not just with us but with the organization going out and getting a guy like that.”
In Hopkins’ five seasons in Houston, he has caught passes from 10 quarterbacks; the Texans have had a different quarterback start the season opener in five straight years.
On Sunday, the Texans’ offense had the ball for 39:41 of the game, which took the pressure off the defense. The extra time on the sideline is something outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said he isn't used to.
“We usually play in a lot of snaps on defense, but this game we didn’t get to play too many snaps,” Clowney said. “I think I was on the sidelines like hollering at the coach one time like, ‘Man, I’m not on the field enough.’ He was like, ‘Nobody’s on the field right now.’”
Added defensive end J.J. Watt: “It makes life a lot easier. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. It’s nice to be able to sit back on the bench and just watch the offense move the ball down the field.
“I’m very excited to obviously be able to put up a performance like that. If they want to score 57 every week, that’s fine by me. I’ll take it.”
The Texans' offense has gone from simply trying to not turn the ball over and win the battle of field position to thinking about driving down the field to score.
“Guys aren’t thinking, ‘All right, we’ve got to have good field position to score.’ They think, ‘Let’s go 90 yards. Let’s go 80 yards,’” Hopkins said.
“Every time we touch the ball we’re trying to score it. We’re not happy with three; we need seven.”