The Green Bay Packers have neither a long nor particularly storied history with the Houston Texans. Since the Texans joined the NFL, they’ve met the Packers just four times. The Packers have won three of those four games.
The fifth contest in their all-time series features two teams with very different starts to 2020. The Packers started about as hot as a team can get, but fell on their faces against the Buccaneers. The Texans, meanwhile, carried an offseason of dysfunction into the start of the regular season, stumbling to 0-4 before finally, mercifully firing Bill O’Brien. They’ve gone 1-1 under interim head coach Romeo Crennell.
To help us get a handle on the Texans, we turned to Jeremy Brener of SB Nation’s Battle Red Blog. He first gave us a tour around the Houston offense and will be back tomorrow with a look at the defense.
Acme Packing Company: The numbers paint a mixed picture on Deshaun Watson so far this year. What’s the story on his 2020 season?
Jeremy Brener: The playcalling with Bill O’Brien was abysmal, and I think that’s what paints the muddy picture. Despite losing DeAndre Hopkins, Watson’s got numerous weapons around him. It’s taken a little while to get his chemistry right with Brandin Cooks, but there’s been improvement over the past two weeks. I think Watson is only going to get better now that he isn’t limited by O’Brien’s questionable playcalling.
APC: David Johnson arrived in Houston via one of the splashier (and, shall we say, most-discussed) moves of the offseason. What’s your assessment of his play through six games? Would you rather have DeAndre Hopkins?
JB: Every time David Johnson finds the end zone, I say it’s the greatest trade of all-time. I’ve done that three times in six weeks. DeAndre Hopkins has only found the end zone twice. So, you tell me who won the deal.
Now, for everyone who just read the previous sentence, R-E-L-A-X! There’s no question I’d rather have Hopkins. He’s a Top 5 receiver in the game and he’s in his prime. David Johnson is defined by his unbelievable success in 2016, four years ago, which feels like an eternity ago. Obama was still president! In 2020, Johnson is a guy that gets you two yards on first down and it just isn’t enough. I feel like the Texans are misusing him though. He’s had far more success as a runner outside the tackles, and on the few occasions they give Johnson a run outside the tackles, it usually goes for a first down and more. If the Texans could just give him some more pitches or speed option plays, I think they’d find more success.
APC: Texans’ wide receiver Randall Cobb spent most of a decade catching passes from Aaron Rodgers and was also known as an all-around good guy in Green Bay. How has he been received in Houston?
JB: I can see why the Packers kept Randall Cobb for so long. He’s a great team-oriented guy and for a team with a lot of change in its skill players, he’s been a glue guy for the team. He hasn’t been Deshaun Watson’s favorite target, but he’s been a reliable one. He can also make some shifty receiver plays like the one he had last week in Nashville that went for a TD. Definitely one of my favorite new guys to watch.
Stay tuned for part two of our chat tomorrow, when we discuss the Texans’ defense.