Dolphins vs. Texans: Houston's Biggest Winners and Losers

Matt GoldsteinContributor IISeptember 9, 2012

Dolphins vs. Texans: Houston's Biggest Winners and Losers

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    I'll admit it, I was nervous for a little.

    The Texans team that had been built up and praised all offseason was trailing one of the most talentless teams in the NFL 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

    Then, Texans fans were able to breath a collective sigh of relief. The vaunted Bulls on Parade defense forced four turnovers on consecutive drives, which allowed the Texans' offense to put up 24 unanswered points.

    After that, Gary Kubiak slammed down on the break pedal in an effort to wipe time off the clock.

    It worked.

    The Texans ran and ran, throwing when necessary, in their own special way of lowering the dagger into the opponent.

    The Texans dominated the game on defense, not allowing the Miami Dolphins to score a single offensive touchdown, and the Texans ultimately won the game by a score of 30-10.

    Let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers of the Texans' first game of the 2012 NFL season.

Winner: J.J. Watt

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    J.J. Watt was simply incredible today, and his play certainly wiped away any concerns that may have lingered about his dislocated elbow that he suffered during training camp.

    Watt dominated at the point of attack all throughout the game, and one may actually be able to see why Wade Phillips proclaimed the second-year player a future Hall of Famer.

    Actually, forget I ever said that.

    Anyways, Watt made his presence known all day long in all facets of the game. He deflected three passes (as only he can), two of which resulted in interceptions by Brian Cushing and Kareem Jackson.

    In addition, Watt displayed his pass-rushing skills by gathering one-and-a-half sacks and pressuring the quarterback nonstop throughout the game.

    Watt was also disruptive at the point of attack, disrupting any attempt of the Dolphins to get their supposedly dangerous rushing attack going.

    All in all, Watt deserves the defensive MVP for the Texans.

Loser: Kareem Jackson

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    It was an up-and-down game for Kareem Jackson, as he showed improvement in several areas but still proved that he has a lot of work left to become a great cornerback.

    To start off with the good, Jackson displayed excellent coverage skills. He managed to stay within the general vicinity of his assignments, and he was able to disrupt a few short passes. He also picked off a pass that J.J. Watt deflected high into the air.

    Jackson, however, still displayed his bad habit of not rotating his head and locating the pass in midair.

    A perfect example of this came late in the fourth quarter on a deep pass to Brian Hartline. Jackson was all over Hartline, and it seemed unlikely that the pass would be completed. 

    Jackson, however, refused to put his head on a swivel, and Hartline was able to catch the pass for a huge gain despite the great coverage.

    While Jackson's mistakes did not hurt the Texans versus a weak Dolphins team, they can and will hurt the Texans when they play the likes of the Green Bay Packers

Winner: Andre Johnson

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    Andre Johnson proved that he is still one of the best wide receivers there is in the NFL.

    Throughout the entire offseason, Johnson's ability to still perform at a high level was highly criticized. Critics argued that he was getting up there in age, and that his numerous injuries would hinder his playmaking talents.

    Well, Johnson just shut them all up.

    Johnson caught eight of 10 targets for a total of 119 yards.

    His sole touchdown came in the second quarter on an excellent pass from Matt Schaub. Johnson was draped by the opposing cornerback, but he still managed to catch the ball next to the sideline of the right side of the end zone for the Texans' third touchdown of the game.

    If Johnson can stay healthy, the Texans certainly have quite a weapon for their high-powered offense.

Loser: The Texans' Young Receivers

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    After an offseason of hype and hopeful expectations, Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin failed to make even a noticeable impact in the Texans' Week 1 victory.

    The two young receivers compiled a total of three targets, and their lone reception came on a nine-yard catch by Jean.

    Honestly, despite their excellent offseasons, this was to be expected. Inexperienced receivers, especially rookies, typically struggle in their first seasons in the NFL.

    A solid season for either Martin or Jean would entail about 500 to 600 receiving yards and two or three touchdown receptions. 

    Hopefully, one or both of the two receivers will be able to reach those marks this season.

Winner: Matt Schaub

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    Matt Schaub played so well this game he was rewarded with a $62 million contract extension for four years with $24.75 million guaranteed

    All kidding aside, Schaub's performance today should put away any doubts about his ability to return from his devastating Lisfranc injury that his preseason performances should have already stowed away.

    Schaub finished the game with 266 passing yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 102.4.

    Schaub controlled the game offensively, showed great touch on all of his touches and sparked several scoring drives.

    Essentially, he looked like the efficient quarterback that he has always been for the Texans.

Loser: Trindon Holliday

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    Trindon Holliday averaged over 30 yards per kickoff in the preseason on many, many return attempts.

    Against the Dolphins, Holliday totaled 47 yards on three attempts, and, let alone reaching the opposing end zone, he never even got out of his own 20.

    Holliday is a fan favorite, and it would certainly be a disappointment if he cannot even come close to replicating his incredible preseason performances. 

    If he cannot be the spark the Texans were hoping for in the return game, it could actually have a profound effect on the team. On cut day, the Texans released several solid players, including Troy Nolan, and one of those players was let go so Holliday could have a roster spot.

    Holliday does not need to get a touchdown every week. He does, though, have to get out of the 20-yard line.

Winner: Owen Daniels

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    The Texans need players to step up in the passing game this season, and that's exactly what Owen Daniels did versus the Dolphins.

    He proved to be a favorite of Matt Schaub, receiving a total of eight looks for four receptions and 87 receiving yards.

    Daniels made several big catches of third downs, and he also broke out a big play for the Texans in the third quarter. On 2nd-and-10, Schaub threw a jump ball to Daniels over the middle of the field, and Daniels leaped into the air over the defender and sprinted away for a gain of 24 yards.

    If Daniels can return to his Pro Bowl form, then the Texans will have two extremely dangerous receiving threats in him and Andre Johnson, a perfect counterbalance to their efficient rushing attack.

Winner: Defense

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    If there were any doubts about the Texans' defense regressing in its second season under Wade Phillips, they may have been effectively wiped away in their impressive performance versus the Dolphins.

    Though the Dolphins' offense clearly does not strike fear in the hearts of their opponents, the Texans' defense did exactly what they should do against a rookie quarterback.

    The defense forced four turnovers, three interceptions and one fumble recovery, which completely swung around the momentum of the game.

    The defense pressured Ryan Tannehill, the rookie quarterback, all throughout the game, which certainly made it difficult for Tannehill and the Dolphins' offense to get anything going. 

    The defense looked exactly as it did last season, and that should be enough to inspire any Texans fan.