Examining several hidden gems the Texans have uncovered
After a heartbreaking loss, there's often a hard time finding the silver lining. The lead up and last offensive play from the Texans in the loss to the Colts was a microcosm of this season: it started bad, got brighter, and eventually flamed out in horrible fashion. Nick Martin could've snapped it better, but Deshaun Watson could've also caught or handled it better. No matter what side of the fence you fall on, it was as bad. But there are some bright spots.
One of them was the performance of the wide receivers, specifically Keke Coutee and Chad Hansen. Coutee is the Texans' Great Value version of what T.Y. Hilton is to the Texans. He performs well against the Colts, but not as much when going against other teams. Some of that has to do with the previous coach's distaste of him. However, if Watson has formed a connection with him, he deserves to stay on as cheap labor. Speaking of cheap labor, Chad Hansen literally came out of nowhere! He was on the practice squad and last played in an NFL game in the 2017 season for the Jets after being a fourth round pick (15 games, nine catches for 94 yards). This pair combined for 13 catches on 16 targets and 242 yards. Coutee and Hansen gave Watson some good targets as both seemed to find themselves open and making plays. If they can continue to perform at a decent level, this could help alleviate some of the issues at receiver.
Another position of concern that has some promise is linebacker. When Benardrick McKinney, Dylan Cole, and Brennan Scarlett all got hurt, it killed the depth the team had at an already underwhelming position. Tyrell Adams has stepped up beautifully playing next to Zach Cunningham. Starting with the first win against the Jags, Adams has 86 tackles compared to Cunningham's 76. That eight game stretch has shown me enough to say I'd like to see these two next to each other moving forward. Another linebacker I'd like to see more of is Jacob Martin. He flashes some pass rush ability off the edge and I think with more reps, he could turn into something. In eight games played so far, he only has three sacks, and that's been in limited playing time. In these last few games of this season, and going into next season, I'd like to see him get a real shot. They won't have high draft picks to get young, cheap labor, so giving guys like Martin a chance to be your edge rusher would be ideal.
Honorable mention goes to Max Scharping and Kahale Warring. A couple of draft picks that appear to have been busts actually played in the loss to the Colts. They didn't make an impact or anything, but being on the field and playing is a lot more than what they've done so far in their couple years with the team. My other honorable mention goes to A.J. Moore. Moore has been a special teamer, but pressed into playing duty due to injury/suspension. He had a sack in the Colts loss, but appeared to have given up the 39-yard touchdown to Jonathan Taylor. Scrappy guy who plays hard.
I'm not saying this team is destined for greatness as far as any of these guys are concerned. They're making the most of the opportunities they've been given. Finding a silver lining in such a crushing loss is hard, but these guys did enough to make me take notice and want to see them more moving forward. Out of them all, Hansen and Adams are my two favorites. I like players who scrap and fight for their place in the league. These two guys are both in their fourth NFL seasons and are finally getting some playing time. Looks like they may have found a home.