Noon Sunday at NRG Stadium (Ch. 9, 100.3-FM, 1130-AM)
ABOUT THE TEXANS
• The Texans are off to the second 0-3 start in the past three years, but Houston dug out of the previous hole in 2018 with nine straight wins to win an AFC South title. During a 28-21 loss to the Steelers on Sunday, the Texans offense was shut out in the second half.
• After playing more than half a season just once since 2015, star defensive end J.J. Watt appears healthy while leading Houston in quarterback hits (five) and sacks (two) and playing 83.6% of the defensive snaps through three games.
• The Texans defense predictably struggled in a brutal AFC slate to begin the season against the Chiefs, Ravens and Steelers, allowing 31.7 points and 388 yards per loss. Safety Eric Murray, the former Gophers defensive back and Chiefs’ 2016 fourth-round pick, forced a fumble last week for Houston.
• Running back David Johnson, 28, has a modest 13-15 touches per game so far after the DeAndre Hopkins trade that sent Johnson from Arizona to Houston this offseason. He’s averaging an effective 4.9 yards per touch as he tries to rebound from an injury-marred 2019.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT | QB Deshaun Watson
• Watson has been pressured nearly as much as Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins this season, according to Pro Football Focus, with a 38.7% rate behind only four others, including Cousins (41.1%). Watson hasn’t been as successful eluding the pressure, taking 13 sacks.
• Watson, the two-time Pro Bowler, saw his front office swap his No. 1 receiver, Hopkins, for Brandin Cooks this offseason. Watson is coming off his best half of the year against Pittsburgh, with 202 yards and two touchdowns by halftime. But he completed just five passes in the second half.
• Texans coach Bill O’Brien on improving his offense: “There’s great quarterback play right now, there are some really dynamic offenses. I just think that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to improve and be one of those types of offenses that can score.”
• Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer on Watson: “I heard his college coach describe him as Michael Jordan, and you can see a lot of those qualities. The way that he can run, and how strong he is, how strong of an arm he has, the things that they can do with him. He’s really a special, special player.”
COACH SPEAK | Bill O’Brien
• O’Brien is in his seventh season as Texans coach with a 52-47 record in the regular season and a 2-4 record in four playoff appearances. He was named general manager this offseason, and then traded Hopkins to the Cardinals for Johnson and a pick swap.
• O’Brien has never had a top-10 scoring offense in Houston (11th in 2018 was best finish), but the Texans haven’t ranked worse than 17th since drafting Watson in 2017.
• On facing this version of the Vikings defense and Mike Zimmer, whom O’Brien said is a friend: “I’ve been in the league for however many years, and gone up against Mike several times when he was in Cincinnati, Dallas and now here in Minnesota. He does a great job. He’s one of the best defensive coaches of all time, in my opinion.”
• On turning around an 0-3 start into an 11-5 finish in 2018: “What I remember about that team is we got a win. Once we got a win, we got a little bit of confidence back and were able to string some wins together. But how much you draw from that year to this year, every year is different.”