The Houston Texans fell to 3-4 on the season following Sunday’s shootout loss to the Seattle Seahawks but hopes were still high for the franchise due to the play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.
That all came crashing down Thursday when Watson suffered a torn ACL on a non-contact play during practice.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed Friday that Watson had indeed suffered a season-ending injury, and the team has since placed their 2017 first-round pick on injured reserve.
Stay tuned… ⏱ pic.twitter.com/xEMdfrq8SP
— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) November 3, 2017
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound quarterback, who became a household name with his play at Clemson, quickly took the league by storm, throwing 19 touchdown passes in his first seven games.
“In the short time that he played with us and the type of guy he is, he’ll be one of the top quarterbacks in this league for a long time,” O’Brien said, via Houston’s team website.
The Texans will once again turn to Tom Savage following Watson’s injury, and can only hope he plays better than his Week 1 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fourth-year quarterback out Pittsburgh has a 60 percent career completion percentage and has thrown no touchdowns to one interception in seven games played.
While Houston intends to reclaim the AFC South this season, Watson’s injury has surely reshaped the division.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans both sit a game ahead (4-3) the Texans in the AFC South, and Houston does not have the same defense they could rely on when Brock Osweiler was their quarterback last season.
J.J. Watt’s absence from Houston’s defense is nothing new to the Texans in 2017, but the loss of cornerback A.J. Bouye in free agency and outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus to a season-ending injury has clearly impacted the team.
The Texans are the allowing 18th most yards in the NFL entering Week 9 and are giving up the fourth most points (26.9) per game in the league this season.
It’s not only that the Texans defense has regressed in 2017, but that both Jacksonville and Tennessee have improved during the offseason.
The Jaguars are allowing a league-low 15.7 points per game this season and the cornerback tandem of Bouye and Jalen Ramsey is arguably the best in the NFL right now.
While the Titans have not been consistent this season, they have logged wins over Seattle and Jacksonville and have won two straight games entering Week 9. Tennessee also has arguably the best quarterback in the division in Marcus Mariota, as Watson and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck have both been ruled out for the 2017 season.
The Titans are also expected to get first-round pick Corey Davis back on the field in the second half of the season, and the addition of their 6-foot-3, 209-pound rookie receiver is only likely to improve their offense down the stretch.
The Texans and Colts have won the AFC South every season dating back to 2009, but with both Watson and Luck ruled out for the 2017 season, Jacksonville and Tennessee should be considered the division favorites.