But after allowing an NFL-high 62 sacks last season, the line allowed six on quarterback Deshaun Watson in their 30-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.
The Saints had 11 quarterback hits, and Watson had two lengthy stints in the blue medical tent in the first half. The Texans have to fix this before they host the Jaguars home opener Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
The Texans’ struggles in protecting Watson showed up in a big way midway through the fourth quarter. Houston trailed by only three points and were at midfield. But on third down, Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson beat Tunsil badly and the Texans were forced to punt.
QB breakdown: Watson and the offense struggled for most of the fourth quarter, but showed why the Texans will likely always be in the game if he is playing. With 50 seconds left in the game, Watson led the Texans on what seemed to be the game-winning drive, capped by a 37-yard TD strike to Kenny Stills. Watson finished 20-for-30 for 268 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception. He also had four carries for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Troubling trend: The Texans’ defense allowed 510 net yards, including 370 passing yards from Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Houston lost defensive backs Tyrann Mathieu and Kareem Jackson in free agency, and the Texans’ secondary was burned on Monday night against the Saints.
Eye-popping stat: Entering the game, the Texans were 32-2 when leading at halftime under Bill O’Brien, which was the best record (by win percentage) in the NFL since 2014. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the next best in that span is the Patriots at 54-4. On Monday night, the Texans led 14-3 at halftime and were outscored by the Saints 27-14 in the second half to lose the game.