PASSING THE TORCH

As Texans honor Johnson, his replacement - DeAndre Hopkins - shows he is pretty good, too

DeAndre Hopkins is a fitting replacement for Andre Johnson. Houston Texans

The Texans honored their greatest receiver on Sunday by inducting Andre Johnson into the Hall of Honor.

After watching that, their current franchise receiver went out and did his best Johnson impression in the second half. DeAndre Hopkins would finish with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Texans 31-21 win over the Cardinals.

The Texans moved to 4-6 on the season with the win, ending a three-game losing streak, but even after Sunday’s result, it seems destined to end as many of Johnson’s did.

Hopkins and to a lesser extent Lamar Miller are the last men standing on the offense, as injuries have taken away Deshaun Watson, William Fuller for much of the season and now D’Onta Foreman.

Hopkins is one of the lone bright spots left in what has been a season of disappointment and critical injuries. After Sunday, he has 62 catches for 879 yards and 9 TDs -- matching Johnson’s career high.

In his career, he is closing in on his third 1,000-yard season in five years in the league. He had 802 as a rookie, and 954 last season, when he often played poorly, did not battle for balls and looked lethargic at times.

This season he has been anything but.

He has fought for balls, made amazing catches, played defense when poor passes could have been intercepted. He has been physical -- often getting called for pass interference, but fighting for every inch. He has been a bright spot in what has become a lost season.

It was fitting that Johnson was honored, because Hopkins came to play on Sunday, with another strong effort, this one coming primarily against the Cardinals’ stud corner, Patrick Peterson. It was another highlight game in what is becoming a strong 2017.

Unfortunately, like many of Johnson’s great seasons, it is likely being wasted. But on Sunday, he played a lot like his predecessor.

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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans remain winless as the team comes up short against the Bears in Chicago. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Davis Mills made two costly mistakes with interceptions. The first one took points off the board and the second allowed the Bears to kick a game-winning field goal. These were the first two of the season and they highlight the need for near perfection from the offense.

2. Davis Mills claimed he made the correct read on the second interception. He said the tip is the reason the Bears intercepted it. I disagree. It looks like Roquan Smith read it like a book and might have been there anyway.

3. The other interception from Davis Mills wasn’t a good read either. Mills made a quick decision and rifled the ball to Brandin Cooks but the defensive back basically had his whole body between Cooks and the ball. The Bears made a nice play to come down with the deflection.

4. Davis Mills is not to be trusted in moments where most quarterbacks can move the football. The Texans failed to get into field goal range at the end of both halves. Mills has consistently failed in those spots this season.

5. There were some curious calls from Pep Hamilton. The Texans don’t have much talent, but Hamilton has had some unique moments. There was a screen to Pharaoh Brown on third and long. The team called a screen on third and one. There was a telegraph on third and short in the red zone.

6. Why can’t this team get the wideouts more heavily involved? Rex Burkhead shouldn’t be getting the second greatest number of targets. Brandin Cooks shouldn’t leave a game where he has less than 10 targets. It would be worth scheming the ball to Cooks a few more times than he is currently getting the ball.

7. Kamu Grugier-Hill is not playing well right now. The veteran just bounced right off a Bears running back at one point. He is also a liability in coverage. Christian Harris is hopefully back after next week but it would be worth seeing if Garrett Wallow has anything more to his game than the veteran.

8. The rushing defense was assaulted again. This time by running wideouts and a backup running back. Lovie Smith needs to look at playing time and the depth chart to see if something can get corrected here. This can’t keep happening earlier and earlier in games each week.

9. Jerry Hughes has been one of the best players on this team through three games. The veteran has been consistent and flashed more than a few times. A nice addition by the team this offseason.

10. Jalen Pitre is so damn good. He’s already one of the best players on this team. He had two interceptions today to go along with a sack. He wasn’t fooled on play action and nailed Justin Fields for the sack. When it felt like the Bears were getting whatever they wanted, Pitre darted in for a tackle in the backfield. He’s been awesome.

11. There must be some evaluation from the Texans. The team might need to ask if everything they’ve put together at this point is the right direction. There is a sound argument the team should be 3-0. Instead, the team is winless, and closing in on hopelessness

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