Texans face another MVP when Jackson, Ravens come to town
Pity the Houston Texans, who opened their season trying to subdue one former NFL Most Valuable Player before being scheduled to take on Lamar Jackson in Week 2.
The Texans (0-1) will try for better results on Sunday afternoon when they host Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (1-0).
Houston struggled mightily to contain Patrick Mahomes in the season opener on Sept. 10, with the 2018 NFL MVP throwing three touchdown passes to lift Super Bowl champion Kansas City to a 34-20 victory.
While Mahomes flourished, Deshaun Watson had his issues in his first game without DeAndre Hopkins. The four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver was traded to Arizona in the offseason.
Watson threw for just 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Chiefs. He also was sacked four times. That might be considered a mild disturbance considering he was taken down six times and limited to just 169 passing yards in Baltimore’s 41-7 romp over Houston on Nov. 17.
“It didn’t go so well last year,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said in a conference call. “We need to play a much more disciplined football game on Sunday than we did last year.”
O’Brien likely was pleased with what he saw from Will Fuller V, who is expected to carry a bigger responsibility in the absence of Hopkins. Fuller recorded team-leading totals in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (112) against the Chiefs.
“He’s a guy since coming into the league – high yards per catch guy, excellent contested catch guy,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Fuller. “He’s a go-to receiver for sure, very talented, very fast. They have a number of good receivers, all high-end receivers.”
The conversation about high-end players on the field Sunday has to include Jackson — and the Texans know it.
Jackson threw for four touchdowns and rushed for 79 yards as Baltimore rolled up 491 total yards of offense in last year’s meeting.
Jackson did quite well for himself on Sunday as the Ravens opened the 2020 season with a resounding 38-6 victory over Cleveland. Jackson completed 20 of 25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns en route to being named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the sixth time in his career.
“Lamar did a really good job, and our offensive line did a good job of creating time in the pocket which allowed the coverage to expand,” Harbaugh said. “… Lamar has amazing vision and can throw on the move. He sees the field so well. To me, those are the keys to that.”
Tight end Mark Andrews certainly has benefited from that, and he followed up his team-leading 10 receiving touchdowns in 2019 with two more last week. Rookie J.K. Dobbins rushed for two scores in his NFL debut to boot.
Houston’s David Johnson — acquired in the trade for Hopkins — totaled 109 scrimmage yards (77 rushing, 32 receiving) and a touchdown against the Chiefs. Johnson also found the end zone in his last meeting with Baltimore, doing so while playing with Arizona last season.
–Field Level Media