The Houston Texans have a chance to clinch a first round bye in the AFC playoffs if they can finish the regular season with two wins after defeating the Jets on Saturday. The Texans, as they have done all season, relied on solid quarterback play, an elite receiver and a ferocious pass rush to defeat the Jets, 29-22. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:
Football is a simple game when wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is on your team. Deshaun Watson and the Texans don’t have to overthink or scheme Hopkins open, as the former Clemson Tiger can go over, around and run past defensive backs. Hopkins (6’1, 215) has elite timing and jumping ability, which allows him to make catches while draped by cornerbacks, resembling a gymnast more than a football player. Hopkins has 94 receptions for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season. Even more impressive, 67 of those catches have gone for first downs. When the league’s best receivers are being discussed, Hopkins name should be at the forefront. Defensively, anything short of double coverage won’t suffice and at times -as he showed on Saturday- that may not be enough.
DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson highlighted Sam Darnold in the preseason against the Redskins and was impressed with his command of the offense. 15 weeks into his rookie season and the same holds true. Darnold has a good feel for the game for a rookie quarterback, he isn’t afraid to run when nothing is there and did his best work during the two-minute drill before halftime. The former USC Trojan will have to work on his feet when surrounded by the rush. If enough pressure gets around him, he exhibited the tendency to float the ball and not get his lower body involved. This lack of torque in his throws led to balls with less velocity and forced receivers to work back to the ball from their routes (see his two third down throws on the second possession of the game). These tweaks should be correctable. Along with Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, Darnold has showed promise in his first season under center. Like his fellow draft mates, Darnold must cut down on the turnovers (14 passing touchdowns-to- 15 interceptions on the season.)
Robby Anderson (6’3 190) has a similar lanky build as Hopkins but is more of a vertical threat than he is an acrobatic catcher.
“They’ve got a receiver that probably runs as fast as anybody we’ve played in Anderson,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said before the matchup.
As he has gotten comfortable with a rookie quarterback, Anderson has caught 38 passes for 588 yards and five touchdowns. The 25- year old receiver is playing his best football as the season comes to a close, notching 11 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks. He hasn’t had the luxury of steady quarterback play early on in his career but the skills are in place. As the former Temple Owl grows with Darnold, look for the duo to establish more of a connection in the seasons to come.