Eight months after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs, the Houston Texans again walked off the field after a poor performance, this time falling 34-20 in the season opener on Thursday night.
Houston revamped its offense this offseason around quarterback Deshaun Watson, trading away All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for running back David Johnson, acquiring receiver Brandin Cooks from the Los Angeles Rams and signing free agent Randall Cobb. This offense may well turn into the speedy, big-play unit coach Bill O’Brien envisioned when he put the team together this offseason, but the Texans failed their first test of 2020.
Troubling trend: The Texans’ passing game without Hopkins struggled against Kansas City, with their new receivers -- Cooks and Cobb -- combining for four catches on seven targets for 43 yards. Houston hopes to replace Hopkins’ production with speed and the pair of veterans, but was unsuccessful getting the ball down the field against the Chiefs. Watson was 1-of-7 for 15 yards, an interception and four sacks when pressured.
QB breakdown: Watson's matchup against Patrick Mahomes was the biggest storyline coming into the game after an offseason during which each signed a massive contract extension. But on Thursday, Mahomes again came out on top, throwing for three touchdowns and 211 yards without an interception. Watson didn't get going until the Texans were down 31-7, finishing with 247 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His best receiver was Will Fuller, who had eight catches for 112 yards. With the defense struggling, the Texans needed Watson to take over the game, and he did not.
Promising trend: It’s only one game, but Johnson impressed against the Chiefs, running for 77 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and catching three passes for 32 yards. There is a lot of pressure on Johnson to perform because of who he was traded for, and the Texans will hope he can build on a solid debut.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The defense picked up where it left off in that playoff game, allowing 369 net yards and 31 unanswered points. After falling behind 24-0 in the playoffs, the Texans allowed 82 points in the next six quarters spanning that January game and Thursday night. Houston allowed three different Chiefs receivers to score touchdowns on Thursday, led by wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who had seven catches for 82 yards.