HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans took a gamble on their offense this offseason, trading wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for running back David Johnson in an attempt to do more than just win a division title.
But two games in, that gamble has not paid off, the latest showing a 33-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Houston did not take advantage of its speedy receivers or new running back. Yes, it has been only two games -- against two of the best in the AFC -- but a strong start by others in the division, including the 2-0 Titans, means they don’t have the luxury of time to figure it out.
One of the few bright spots in the Texans’ season-opening loss to the Chiefs was a big game from new No. 1 receiver Will Fuller V, but he did not have a target on Sunday. He was in and out of the game and did not play in the Texans’ final drive before halftime.
The Texans have an uphill climb to make up ground in the AFC South and the first-place Titans. Tennessee is coming off a postseason run, showing it was the best team in the division toward the end of last season. Houston has won the AFC South in four out of the past five seasons, but with an improved division and an offense that hasn’t taken a step forward, that is certainly not a given in 2020.
QB breakdown: Watson completed 25 of 36 passes for 275 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He spread the ball around, with seven players finishing with at least one catch. Not included in that total was Fuller. His leading receiver was newcomer Brandin Cooks, who had five catches for 95 yards.
Troubling trend: A week after impressing in his Texans debut, running back David Johnson was ineffective for Houston, finishing with 34 yards on 11 carries. Without an effective run game, the Ravens were all over Watson, sacking him four times. Houston was missing backup running back Duke Johnson due to an ankle injury, and the only other rush outside of David Johnson and Watson was Fuller, who had one carry and did not gain a yard.
Biggest hole in the game plan: A lack of turnovers. In the week leading up to the game, Texans defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver said he thought the Texans’ run defense would improve -- they gave up even more rushing yards this week -- but it was the lack of turnovers that were concerning him. But for the second week in a row, Houston did not get a takeaway. The Texans lost the turnover battle 2-0 as wide receiver Keke Coutee fumbled in the second quarter, leading to a Ravens touchdown.
Silver lining: No team that started 0-2 last season made the playoffs, but the Texans have done so the past two times they lost their first two games of the season, most recently in 2018, when they started 0-3 and then won nine straight games to win the AFC South.