The 2018-19 NFL season has been an unmitigated roller coaster for the Houston Texans franchise.
After three consecutive losses to the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, and New York Giants, all signs of the team's poor efforts in those games signaled a lost season. Head Coach Bill O’Brien was also on a hot seat that was doused in gasoline.
Somehow, after defeating the Tennessee Titans Monday night 34-17, the Texans were able to turn their pitiful start into an historic eight-game win streak. While this has been a complete team effort, O’Brien deserves high praise for this dramatic turnaround.
Down 10 only five minutes into the first quarter, Houston was able to score 14 unanswered as Deshaun Watson hit Demaryius Thomas on a 12-yard pass play, followed by a 15-yard run a drive later.
The sequence that won the Texans the game was midway through the second quarter as the Texans defense was able to stop the Titans offense on a goal line stand, setting up a 97-yard touchdown run by Lamar Miller, giving Houston a 21-10 lead. The Titans were unable to keep up, scoring only one touchdown in the second half.
What makes this win so special was that as the team was wrapping their game plan preparations for their division rival, their owner, Bob McNair, passed away after a four-year battle with cancer.
But in spite of all the pressure the Texans were under, the team proved Monday night as well as the rest of the season that they can perform well in high-pressure situations. As everyone already knows, this is something that the franchise hadn’t been able to do previously.
In Weeks 4 and 5, The Texans were able to survive in overtime victories against the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys.
After a shaky team performance against Buffalo in Week 6, Houston’s defense dominated division rival Jacksonville Jaguars 20-7 in Week 7. The offense shined against the Miami Dolphins 45-23 in Week 8, where Deshaun Watson threw for five touchdowns on Thursday night in primetime.
After losing WR Will Fuller for the season, the Team was able to acquire veteran Demaryius Thomas via trade and highlight undrafted free agent Keke Coutee to reload their receiving corps in wins over the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins.
The Texans defense also witnessed a resurgent JJ Watt and has seen Kareem Jackson dominating after converting from Corner to Safety. Both are currently the highest-rated players in their positions, according to Pro Football Reference.
Overall, the Texans have matured into a formidable team this season, which is something the team has not looked like in previous seasons under O’Brien.
In each of O’Brien’s first three seasons, the Texans looked like an average team, finishing at 9-7. They then fell apart after losing Watson in 2017, finishing the season 4-12. Consequently, O’Brien and his coaching staff have faced heavy criticism for the way the Texans have finished out each season.
While an eight-win streak is not a playoff victory or a Super Bowl championship, it is also not something that should be taken lightly. The Texans are now one of the hottest teams in the league and have a huge chance to not only clinch the AFC South, but the entire conference as well.
With five games left in the season, we should start giving Bill O’Brien more credit for his coaching efforts.
Source: @pff_Texans on twitter and NFL.com