It took nearly a decade to get there, but the Texans have been difficult to keep out of the playoffs since their initial appearance. Within their first 18 years, the Texans have reached the playoffs six times.
They are tied with the Jaguars for the most postseason appearances among expansion clubs that joined the NFL after 1976 during that time period. The Texans have used a lot of star power to achieve those numbers.
In this piece, I’ll go over a list of ten of these men who helped the squad with their performances.
As a rookie, Brian Cushing made an early impression, and he remained a valuable member of the Texans’ defense for the following eight seasons. Cushing is the franchise’s all-time tackle leader (664) and has led the club in tackles each season he has topped 100. Cushing set a franchise record with 17 tackles against the Giants in 2014, and he’s one of just two Texans to ever force two fumbles in the same game.
The Texans had only one player who had run for 800 yards in a season before Chris Myers was traded to them in 2008. Those figures skyrocketed once Myers took over as the offensive line’s anchor, with a Houston running back rushing for at least 1,000 yards in five of his seven seasons. By 2011, the Texans had 2,448 rushing yards (153 per game) and Myers had helped lead running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate, who had combined for 2,166 of those yards.
Johnathan Joseph had great expectations as a first-round draft pick. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Bengals, where he established himself as a top cornerback, before signing a five-year, $48.75 million contract with the Texans before the 2011 season.
That was the start of a nine-year stay in Houston, which included six playoff appearances and victories over the Bengals in 2011 and 2012. During that period, Joseph appeared in nearly every game, never missing more than three in a season, and intercepted at least one pass in every season save one.
Matt Schaub holds nearly every major passing record in the Texans’ franchise record book, and he was the quarterback who eventually got them into the playoffs. Schaub’s first NFL starting job came from Houston, and after establishing himself as a star, he helped the Texans reach the playoffs in 2011. (though he was injured and unable to play in the postseason).
After recovering from his injuries in 2011, Schaub led the Texans to a 12–4 record in 2012, including his first career playoff victory over the Bengals. Schaub passed for 527 yards in a game against the Jaguars earlier that season, which is tied for the second-most in NFL history.
Schaub set team records by completing 1,951 of 3,020 passes for 23,221 yards and 124 touchdowns during his time with the Texans.
Williams’ stats were low but decent as a rookie, but he had a breakout season in 2007. He started the year off on a high note, collecting two sacks and recovering a fumble, in which he returned 38 yards for a touchdown in a 20–3 win over the Chiefs. He recorded 14 sacks before the end of the season, and he added another 12 sacks and forced a career-high four fumbles in 2008.
During his 2008 season, he also had three sacks against the Jaguars in the Texans’ first Monday Night Football game. Williams was switched to linebacker in 2011 after missing the final three games of the 2010 season. When he tore his pectoral muscle against the Raiders, his season was cut short once more, this time after only five games.
Brown paved the way for three running backs to gain 1,000 yards in a season, including Arian Foster’s four seasons and Steve Slaton and Lamar Miller’s one apiece. Brown’s blocking was also responsible for all three of quarterback Matt Schaub’s 4,000-yard passing seasons.
As a rookie, Foster did not make the team out of training camp, but he was promoted for the final six games of the 2009 season. Foster took on a larger role after starter Steve Slaton was injured, although he wasn’t guaranteed the starting job the next season.
When rookie Ben Tate was injured in training camp, Foster stepped up and rushed for an NFL-high 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns, all of which are still franchise records for a single season.
Hopkins was a prolific receiver who finished in the top five in receiving yardage in three consecutive seasons (2015, ’17, and ’18), as well as catching at least 100 receptions three times. Hopkins became Houston’s No. 1 option after fellow receiver Andre Johnson left for the Colts in 2015, and his 11 touchdowns set a new single-season team record.
Hopkins is second in franchise history in receptions (632), yards (8,602), and receiving touchdowns (54), but he leads the Texans in postseason receptions with 37 for 446 yards.
J.J. Watt embodies almost everything a team might hope for in a superstar player. He was not only one of the best defensive players in the NFL throughout the 2010s, but he also performed an important humanitarian role across the country. Even though he has battled to stay on the field in recent seasons, this combination has made him a fan favorite among Texans fans.
Watt recorded 101 career sacks with the Texans, which is 47 more than second-place Whitney Mercilus on Houston’s all-time list. He became the 35th player in NFL history to earn 100 sacks in his career in 2020, despite the fact that sacks were only made an official statistic in 1982. Watt also has four of the Texans’ top four single-season sack totals, including a career-high of 20.5 in both 2012 and 2014.
He did so twice, making him the first NFL player to have at least 20 sacks in a season. During his career, he also set team records with 25 forced fumbles and 16 fumble recoveries.
Andre Johnson was the first significant superstar to wear a Texans uniform, and he was the first individual enshrined into the franchise’s Ring of Honor following a stellar 12-year career.
For the Texans, he racked up 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns on 1,012 receptions, all of which are franchise highs.