The Texans season started in Kansas City with a show of unity on both sides. When the football started, though, the Chiefs were clearly still on a high from last year, with some help from a pair of rookies that might make all the difference for them in the 2020 season. The Texans struggled in quarters two and three and that spelled the difference in this one. Here are my Harris Hits from the 34-20 loss to the Chiefs in the 2020 season opener.
There were a few pleasant surprises that emerged during the loss to the Chiefs, so I'll focus on them.
On the first day in pads, I can remember telling anyone outside of 6-ft from me that running back David Johnson was going to be a huge problem for defenses if he could stay healthy all year long. He showed some juice in the running game, piling up 11 carries for 77 yards and the first touchdown of the 2020 season and also snatched three receptions for 32 yards. With Duke Johnson banged up in the second half, David Johnson may see more touches in the near future, but I really like what he showed on Thursday night. He was quick to the hole, strong enough to fight through weak tackles and his vision was outstanding, especially on that touchdown run.
Another positive was not really a surprise. Receiver Will Fuller V was the only Texans receiver that got separation consistently throughout the night. He was targeted ten times and made eight catches in a variety of forms. That's the Fuller V we've all known could blossom as a top notch receiver in this league. He made an excellent catch on a fourth down that kept a drive alive in the fourth quarter, fighting off holding, honestly, by Chiefs cornerback Rashad Fenton. He played tough, catching at least four or five Deshaun Watson passes over the middle of the field. Fuller V was sharp in all facets.
Defensive tackle P.J. Hall was claimed on waivers early in training camp and there probably wasn't a ton expected from him. In the final week of training camp, though, he flashed his traits - quickness, power and athleticism - showing that he could eventually fit on this defensive line rotation. Against the Chiefs, he was strong and active and made a number of plays, including a whopping hit on Clyde Edwards-Helaire down on the goal line in the second half. I called a number of Hall's games at Sam Houston State so I've been well aware of what he COULD do for a while. On Thursday night, he hit on that potential and this defensive line needs more of that in the near future.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson was under fire for much of the night, but the touchdown throw to tight end Jordan Akins was an absolute laser. Watson hit that particular route in training camp at least a half a dozen times, most of those thrown to Akins, and it showed. He reached back and let it rip and Akins made the catch for his first touchdown catch of the season.
Early in the fourth quarter, it felt as if the Texans play speed, tempo, etc…picked up two or three notches. It wasn't so much realizing a sense of urgency, it was more like making the adjustment/adapting to true game speed. From that point on, the Texans seemed to be playing at a much faster rate of speed through the end of the game.
There were a ton of eyes on safety Eric Murray, but I thought he played a relatively solid ball game. The one that he'll see over and over and over when he lay his head on the pillow is an interception possibility that came his way in the second quarter. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes missed a wide open Travis Kelce across the formation and tried to squeeze one into a receiver further downfield. As he did, he completely missed his target and the only player with any chance was Murray. Unfortunately, he was not able to hang on to the pick that may have changed the momentum of the first half.
Safety A.J. Moore has been a special teams star the past two seasons but he saw some quality playing time on defense on Thursday night. He made his presence known when he labeled Edwards-Helaire on a pass out in the flat in the fourth quarter. Mahomes never saw Moore and swung a pass out to his rookie running back and just as the ball arrived…WHACK…Moore ran right through the ball, and the rookie, to create the pass breakup.
The Chiefs offense was as good as I've seen in this league in all the years that I've been down on the sideline. They kept flashing Run It Back on the scoreboard and it's clear that this team is certainly ready to Run It Back. The only two players that needed to be replaced were the two that opted out for medical concerns - guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and running back Damien Williams. It's safe to say that guard Kelechi Osemele and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs two replacements, helped that offense not miss a beat. This offense is, perhaps not arguably, better than the one that led the Chiefs to a championship last year. The Texans defense didn't tackle horribly, but the Chiefs have so many different weapons with run ability/run after the catch ability that it's difficult on any defense that hasn't tackled a bunch this summer or any summer, really.
Well, that's it from the dark of the plane on this flight home. Time to move on and get ready for Baltimore.
Check out photos from the Houston Texans first game against the Kansas City Chiefs.