Grown men taking their last shot
The Houston Texans offense is, on paper, something you’d expect of the mid-2010s Cleveland Browns. Gone are the elite players such as Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, who brought with them great expectation as well as performance. Instead the Texans now turn to Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Brandin Cooks and others at wide receiver, and a hastily assembled running back room of veterans looking for another chance.
In truth, most of the Texans offense seems to be players taking their last shot at a starting gig in the NFL, which means there is experience, but largely dwindling ability.
Taylor deserves credit for a good performance in Week 1. The former Cleveland Browns starter has struggled to find a starting role since being let go by the Buffalo Bills, and was pretty quickly replaced by a young first rounder at both the Browns and the Los Angeles Chargers. In Houston there is little threat, at least for this season, that anyone will take this offense from him.
Watson is facing serious sexual assault civil and criminal cases, and the Texans are reportedly trying to make him someone else’s problem for the right price. That leaves Taylor with the job, but also a sense of freedom to express himself and do his thing without the burden of a younger player breathing down his neck, or the expectation of delivering a playoff run.
The freedom Taylor has was on show in the Texans offensive game plan against the Jaguars as well. He was forced to evade pass rushers a few times, and in doing so demonstrated that he’s still got the ability to move. Once one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL, Taylor also developed a nice connection with veteran receiver Brandin Cooks, who finished with 132 yards, close to half of Taylor’s total. Taylor finished 21-of-33 with 291 yards and 2 TDs, 40 yards rushing from 4 attempts on the ground.
Motivated to stay in the league as long as he can, Taylor could prove to be a lot to handle for teams this season. However, the abysmal offensive line protecting him will have a lot more problems with the Browns front seven than they did against the Jaguars, and an improved Browns secondary won’t stand idly by either. Taylor and company present a threat to the Browns defense, but a manageable one.