Watson has his best play yet and Hopkins might be the best he's ever been
Trades unlikely to help fill Watt-sized void
3 headlines, 2 questions, and 1 bet ahead of the trip across the pond to London to play the Jaguars.
Watson wows as usual
"I kinda threw it blind." 😳— ESPN (@espn) October 28, 2019
Deshaun Watson explained how he threw the game-winning TD pass after taking a cleat to the eye. pic.twitter.com/vMixca2Pdi
We can focus on the game-winning score all we like, but, Watson was very impressive in the second half as whole.
Early on I thought there were some typical elements of sharpness that were lacking and it could be a long day for the Texans if Watson wasn't sharp but he got it going soon after.
He would go on to complete all but four passes in the second half and rush for 34 of his 46 rushing yards after halftime as well. The Texans would score on all three of their second half possessions with one possession taking almost half a quarter controlling the clock.
It feels like each week Watson shows a trick in his bag and overcomes every level of adversity headed his way. He is officially "you're in every game" territory with Watson. Houston has a chance in every game with Watson playing the way he does.
"Slim to none" chance trades are made
The #Texans can't trade their own 3rd or 4th round pick because it is tied up in the Johnson deal.— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) October 28, 2019
They should get comp picks this offseason but obviously those can't be dealt now.
There doesn't seem to be a player on the roster that would garner a pick/player worth acquiring https://t.co/24BFTH0zwW
Head coach Bill O'Brien didn't seem to think the Texans were going to make any moves. He did use the word "today" on Monday. It is worth noting the trade deadline isn't until Tuesday at 3pm. Maybe I am dicing words but it doesn't seem likely the Texans have the assets, or desire, to make a trade. O'Brien mentioned there needed to be balance in working on this year's team and the future.
The only player that I could see being on the block and maybe getting moved would be Keke Coutee. He was active and healthy but didn't play in Sunday's win over the Raiders. The team does have an injury at wideout with Will Fuller, but Coutee can't play outside anyway. They also promoted Steven Mitchell Jr. from the practice squad last week.
It's unlikely they make a deal, and even if they do, I can't see it being a big one. Their big deals have already been done.
The best ball of his career
Only Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss were faster to the above number. Hopkins did it with quite the quarterback crew. He's caught touchdown passes from the following passers:
I asked Hopkins if despite the stats, if he is playing the best football of his career.
"Yeah, some would say different," He said. "They might, like, I'm getting old, year seven, and what not. But honestly, I feel like I am. I feel like being on the same page with Deshaun, I feel like we have been clicking."
Hopkins was pleased to be in the same conversation as the above greats and wanted to give credit to his teammates as well.
"I got to thank the quarterbacks that's helped me get 8,000 yards, because I can't throw the ball to myself, even the Brock Osweilers, the Brandon Weedens, I got to thank those guys, honestly. Y'all might laugh, but I can't throw the ball to myself."
Deshaun Watson heaped praise on his teammate as well.
"He's an unselfish person," said Watson. "He's a guy that just wants to win. He don't care what the stat line says, he doesn't care how many touchdowns he has, as long as we get that W on Sundays and we're aiming for what we want to go to, the ultimate goal, that's what it's all about."
How do you fill in for Watt?
This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal. Absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to finish the season with my guys and give the fans what they deserve. I truly love this game and can’t stand letting you guys down. Thank you for all of the thoughts & well-wishes.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 28, 2019
O'Brien made it clear you don't just fill in for a hall of fame caliber player like J.J. Watt. And he's right. The Texans will likely have to make use of what they currently have on the roster and potentially a small addition.
It is my assumption Carlos Watkins will "start" in Watt's spot with rookie defensive end Charles Omenihu playing a good portion of the snaps that Watt vacated. Brandon Dunn could also be used to move pieces around along the defensive line situation. D.J. Reader will need to be as good or even better than he currently is for Houston. Angelo Blackson has been a nice player this season.
The linebackers are where things get interesting. Whitney Mercilus is the lone true pass rushing threat on this team. His job just got insanely hard. Jacob Martin will need to continue to show promise. He had the team's lone QB hit yesterday. I don't see any scenario where Barkevious Mingo gets snaps that matter on defense but I could be surprised.
There isn't a free agent option that would make a lot of sense. Maybe someone from another practice squad. I also don't believe a trade would acquire anyone of significance. There aren't many options on the Texans own practice squad. Albert Huggins was signed off the practice squad by Philadelphia last week or he would have had a shot at the spot. Javi Edwards is more of a nose tackle exclusively so it seems unlikely he is the player to get that spot.
What's Watt's future?
Some of J.J. Watt's injury history over the past five seasons for the #Texans— Cody Stoots (@Cody_Stoots) October 28, 2019
2015 - Abdominal injuries
2016 - Back injuries
2017 - leg injury
2019 - pectoral injury
This is far less significant than the other injuries he has dealt with in his career. In fact, when it comes to season-ending, it isn't even close compared to the back and the leg break. That being said, four of his last five seasons have been severely affected via injury.
The positive for Watt is he played at an elite level when he played coming back from the injury and again, those were far more serious than what he is dealing with now.
There was conversation in 2017, obviously I'm unaware how real it truly was, that Whitney Mercilus could have come back after his injury and played that season. The season was off the rails by the time he was healthy. So, this is far from a terrible injury for Watt. He shouldn't even miss offseason activities.
His contract becomes interesting though. He has no guaranteed money and two years left on his deal after this season. He carries a cap hit of $15.5 million and $17.5 million those two years. An extension is absolutely in the conversation when you think about what Laremy Tunsil's new deal and Deshaun Watson's new deal may cost the team. Not to mention, Whitney Mercilus is a free agent and DeAndre Hopkins already has his big contract and makes close to $15 million each of the next three years.
It is fun to hope Watt is a member of the Texans for life, and with the team likely staying in the conversation of success with their quarterback, he doesn't seem poised to "ring chase" elsewhere. He will also be just 31 years old and plenty of elite pass rushers have had loads of success in their 30's. All-time greats like Bruce Smith and Reggie White had amazing stats in their 30's and even Terell Suggs and Cameron Wake were recent examples of players who were fantastic in their 30's.
Watt, for the moment, is a far off thought. The 2019 season still has eight games to be played.
I bet the Texans aren't anywhere close to full strength against the Jaguars
It could be another game where backups have to play key roles for the Texans. Lonnie Johnson's concussion seemed bad on the field I would expect he is missing this weekend. Tashaun Gipson didn't get the most positive endorsement of health for this week from Bill O'Brien. Roderick Johnson was banged up which led to the Chris Clark start. Tytus Howard has no shot to play this week. It is imperative Bradley Roby or Johnathan Joseph, or hopefully both, can play against a decent Jaguars team.
The injuries have piled up on the Texans and after London the bye week comes at the perfect time to get players healthy for the final 7 games.